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Uranium Mining

Uranium mining is necessary to provide the "fuel" for nuclear reactors (and also to make nuclear weapons). Historically, uranium mining has been carried out on land occupied by indigenous people - who have often also comprised the work force, and who have suffered the health and environmental consequences. High-grade uranium is a finite resource, therefore disqualifying nuclear power from consideration as renewable energy.

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Tuesday
Aug072012

Workers contaminated with uranium dust at Canadian processing plant

Three workers at a Cameco processing facility in Ontario were exposed to airborne uranium dust in an incident at the Saskatchewan company's Blind River refinery last month, federal regulators say.

The exposure happened June 23 when a worker loosened a ring clamp on a 208-litre drum of uranium oxide yellowcake. The lid blew off, injecting about 26 kilograms of the material into the air.

The worker closest to the drum and two others in the area, who were not wearing respirators, were exposed to the dust.

The drum came from the U.S. company Uranium One's Willow Creek facility in Wyoming. More.

Thursday
May242012

Sign petition to block uranium mines in New Mexico!

Former uranium mine worker and Navajo leader, Larry J. King (pictured), has gathered 10,000+ signatures and growing on a petition to stop new uranium mines that will contaminate Navajo drinking water supplies. Hydro Resources requested a permit 23 years ago to mine from an aquifer at four sites in two New Mexico towns: Church Rock and neighboring Crownpoint. It has since received permits from the EPA, the NRC and the state. The Easterm Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining has been fighting the plan since 1994. The site is on private land but within the Navajo community. The Navajo Nation has banned uranium mining on its own lands. Mining from the aquifer for uranium will pollute the water under the two towns and make it undrinkable. Chuch Rock does not use the aquifer currently but views it as a future water source. Read more and please sign the petition to the Environmental Protection Agency which is revisiting its decision to grant Hydro Resources a permit.

Sunday
Nov272011

The uncalculated cost of "decommissioning" Canada's many uranium mines

Pat McNamara writes in Nuclear Genocide in Canada:

"Taxpayers will have to foot the bill to remediate the abandoned uranium mines in Canada whose owners simply walked away. Many other mines simply dumped their radioactive tailings in the closest lake. These radioactive tailings ponds are contaminating downstream environments. In most cases, the tailings ponds are contained with simple earthen dams. There have been more than 30 breaches of the earthen dams at Elliot Lake since they were first put in place." (excerpt from Part 4, "Nuclear Costs to Date")

Saturday
Nov262011

"Nuclear genocide" at Serpent River First Nation, Elliot Lake, Ontario

Uranium tailings wall at Elliot Lake, leaking into Serpent River watershed. Photo by Robert Del Tredichi.In Part 1 of his book overviewing the Canadian nuclear establishment's history, Nuclear Genocide, Pat McNamara included an essay on the dozen uranium mines, and associated mills and refinery, located near Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada -- adjacent to the Serpent River First Nation. Much of the essay was taken from the book This Is My Homeland, edited by journalist, Serpent River First Nation Member, and Green Party of Canada indigenous peoples affairs spokesperson Lorraine Rekmans. As documented by Gordon Edwards and Robert Del Tredichi's Nuclear Map of Canada, 145.3 million tonnes of radioactive tailings, out of a national Canadian total of 193.2 million tonnes -- a whopping 75% -- are located at the long-shuttered Elliot Lake uranium mines, on the Serpent River watershed which flows into Lake Huron at Georgian Bay. To this day, the Elliot Lake uranium tailings are still the largest source of radium discharges into the Great Lakes, the drinking water supply for 40 million people in the U.S., Canada, and numerous Native American First Nations.

Friday
Nov252011

"We left them to die and hoped they would never ask any questions"

Having not been warned about known hazards, Dene men even slept on burlap bags containing uranium and radiumThese powerful words come from Andy Orkin, an Ontario lawyer who worked on behalf of the Deline First Nations people, among the very first indigenous victims of the Atomic Age. Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada is home to a traditional Dene tribe, the only indigenous people on the mighty Great Bear Lake near the Canadian Arctic. Orkin is quoted in Part 1 of Pat McNamara's Nuclear Genocide in Canada. 

The book opens by describing Port Radium, the first uranium mine in Canada, which commenced operations in 1933. Local indigenous men were hired to haul pitchblende, uranium ore containing then-coveted radium, in burlap sacks (see photos at left). Although the Canadian mines department had already alerted the federal government to the hazards, the men of Deline were not warned. They began dying of various cancers -- diseases unknown previously to the tribe -- at an alarming rate, in 1960.

Eventually, the Canadian government admitted the men's exposure to hazardous radioactive materials was to blame, but the "Village of Widows" had long since already figured that out themselves. As nuclear widow Cindy Kenny-Gilday of Deline said:

"This village of young men are the first generation of men in the history of Dene on this lake
to grow up without guidance from their grandfathers, fathers and uncles. This cultural, economic,
spiritual, emotional deprivation impact on the community is a threat to the survival of the one and only
tribe on Great Bear Lake. Itʹs the most vicious example of cultural genocide I have ever seen and it's in my own home."

The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility has posted a 1998 "Call for a Federal Response to Uranium Deaths in Deline" by the Dene First Nation People of Great Bear Lake.

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