The presidentof the gold-mining Kumtor Operating Company, Gerhard Glattes, resigned onJune 8 in the wake of an ecological mishap with rippling effects. On May 20,a company truck had accidentally spilled sodium cyanide into the Barskonriver near the shore of Issyk-Kul lake. The accident polluted the river,endangered the lake, and was followed by hospitalization of some 600 localresidents. Nevertheless there are indications that some local authoritiesand panic-prone residents may perhaps have exaggerated the consequences ofthe accident.
Kumtor is a joint venture of the Canada-based Cameco company and thegovernment-owned Kyrgyzaltyn (Kyrgyz Gold). The highly productive Kumtorgold field has emerged as the country’s number one foreign exchange earner.Cameco has offered to compensate the residents affected. A Kyrgyz governmentcommission investigates the situation. Officials from Canada’s ecologicaland health departments and doctors assigned by Cameco have also begun aninvestigation. (Russian and Western agencies, June 5 and 8) –VS
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