38 children “overexposed” to arsenic pollution in the Orbiel Valley

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The site of the former Salsigne gold mine in Aude closed in 2004, and rumours that it is polluted with arsenic have finally been confirmed.

Results of tests have been released, and on Tuesday a spokesperson from the Regional Health Authority for Occitanie, said that there were 38 children under the age of 11 living in the Orbiel Valley near the former Salsigne gold mine, who have an above average rate of arsenic, and that there was a clear case of “overexposure” to arsenic.

Europe’s largest gold mine, and the most polluted arsenic site, had been operating for nearly a century until 2004. But it has left millions of tons of toxic waste stored at five sites around it, some of the sites are not sealed properly, say activists.

The floods of October 2018 in the Aude, which killed 14 people, increased concerns about soil pollution. And the announcement on June 20 of the discovery of higher than average arsenic levels among three boys confirmed the residents’ fears.

Angry residents are relieved that the announcement means that something will be done now.

Source: France 3