Congo Mine, Source of Atom Bombs, Stays Shut, Says U.N.
UNITED NATIONS − A mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo that provided uranium for the U.S. atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 -- the first nuclear weapons used in warfare -- is too dangerous to reopen, the United Nations said Tuesday.
The Shinkolobwe mine, which partially collapsed in July, killing eight people, is likely to further collapse and puts miners at risk of chronic exposure to radiation, U.N. investigators said.
Some 14,000 miners, mainly youths under 18 living in the adjacent village of Shinkolobwe, once earned their living in the mine located in mineral-rich Katanga province in southwestern Congo.
But the village was destroyed in early August following the collapse, and the U.N. team said it saw no miners at the site during an Oct. 25-Nov. 4 visit.
"The situation in Shinkolobwe could be described as anarchistic -- there is no respect for mining safety regulations," Bernard Lamouille, a member of the U.N. assessment team, said in a statement.
Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. Environment Program and the U.N peacekeeping mission in Congo were among those conducting the investigation, which was requested by the government in Kinshasa.
The team will now prepare recommendations for the government on short-term and longer-term steps regarding the mine, the statement said.