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Dominican Republic: Beware something rotten on the ides of March

16 March 2010

The big headline from yesterday’s Dominican Today was more than a little alarming:

Yikes!.  At the end of the story, the Update reads:

Although executives of the gold mining company haven’t informed on the possible causes of the incident, news source reported that the head of Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation, Fernando Sanchez Albavera denied the poisoning of the workers. “In no way, nothing has happened with the workers of the company.” (my emphasis)

Never mind! It was, according to Canadian press reports, simply food poisoning, which I guess means there is no need to follow up on the  claim by “[o]ne of the workers taken to a clinic in Cotuí [who] said a loud explosion was heard in the company and that many people near the area suddenly began to feel faint, headaches even became unconscious.”

The Associated Press and the  Canadian press say that it was not toxic chemicals that felled the workers, as Dominica Today reported, but merely food poisioning.  Besides, it wasn’t a thousand sick workers, although  “Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez says 326 workers were hospitalized Monday and others are receiving outpatient treatment.”

Interestingly enough, Mr. “nothing happened”  Sanchez is quoted, albeit indirectly, saying something a bit different in the Canadian press:   “Fernando Sanchez, says a contractor provided the food and the illnesses have nothing to do with the work at the mine, which employs 3,500 people.”

Just for shits and grins, assuming this was food poisioning on the night shift, and say there’s a thousand workers in the mine, you’d think he would have known “something” happened when 10 percent of his workforce keeled over.

Back in  February,  the Canadian Ambassador need to defend Barrick Gold’s mining operation from criticism… it seems it’s not gold that’s in that thar pit, but  sufides, and the Dominican Republic’s Enviroment Minister,  Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal, complaining about the sulfide contamination just last week.

Not that sulfides would have made the workers sick, not without an explosion, which didn’t happen… but then, nothing happened — or maybe did — or something.

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