More Canadian calls against uraniumPublished by MAC on 2008-07-01
Environmentalists want halt to uranium exploration in cottage country
25th June 2008
Environmentalists says higher uranium prices have led to prospectors staking almost every square inch of Crown land in Haliburton County.
The environmentalists say the future of the area, which is in the heart of Ontario cottage country, is at stake.
Joan Barton, from the group Environment Haliburton, said over the past year, she and her neighbours have discovered that three prospecting companies have been staking Crown land throughout the county. One of them, she said, has early plans for a mine near her home in Wilberforce
"We have been advised of this," she said. "It will be open pit [mining] in Ontario resort country just north of Toronto."
Barton and other environmentalists are calling for a moratorium on the exploration and mining of uranium in the district.
"This issue has come upon us quite suddenly," Barton told a news conference at Queen's Park on Tuesday.
"It's basically been within the past year that Haliburton County has been flooded with mining claims, mining companies and mining interest. The mining companies came in very quietly, and without the knowledge of our community, staked every scrap of Crown land."
Activist John Sewell said most of the uranium produced in Ontario is not used in Ontario.
"Eighty per cent of it is exported out of Canada â€¦ most of it to the [United] States, but some to Britain, some to France."
Sewell said there hasn't been any uranium mining in Ontario for more than 20 years and since there's no shortage of supply worldwide, there's no need to resume it.
So far, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has rejected a request for a freeze on uranium exploration.
But the Liberal government said it is reviewing the exploration provisions of the Mining Act.
Stop uranium mining until study is done on impact: coalition
Group cites effects on environment, health, land claims
Thulasi Srikanthan, The Ottawa Citizen
25th June 2008
Uranium exploration should be suspended in Ontario until its impact on health, the environment and aboriginal land rights is properly addressed, said a report released yesterday by the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium.
The report emerged from a series of public meetings in Ottawa, Sharbot Lake, Kingston and Peterborough in April. It also called for a royal commission to review Ontario's Mining Act, deeming it out of date.
The meetings were part of a citizens' inquiry conducted by the coalition of concerned citizens from the greater Ottawa Valley and the Kingston areas.
"I hope at the end of the day if the province takes it seriously, they will put in a comprehensive inquiry," said former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar, who is not part of the coalition, but served as a independent panel member at the hearings.
Ontario's Mining Act, passed in 1868 and changed little since, has raised the concern of a number of municipalities that want the province to make changes; including Ottawa, which has asked for an immediate comprehensive public review.
Critics are concerned that prospectors can stake a mining claim on private property without notifying landowners, as long as the latter don't possess the mineral rights. Claims cannot be made in some areas, like gardens, orchards, "pleasure grounds" or land containing homes or churches. While a majority of Ontario landowners do own mineral and surface rights, others have given theirs up, possibly for financial reasons. Landowners pay taxes on mineral rights.
Aside from reviewing the act, council also decided to petition the province to impose an immediate moratorium on uranium prospecting, exploration and mining in Eastern Ontario and the Ottawa River watershed. These activities, according to the city's website, would be suspended until all environmental and health issues were resolved and "there are settlement plans for all related native land claims."
However, the chance of the province agreeing to a moratorium seems remote. "That is not something we are considering," said Anne-Marie Flanagan, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. Ms. Flanagan said there is a high global demand for uranium.
"It's used not just for energy, but it's also used for detection and treatment of cancer," she said.
"We don't have any operating uranium mines here, but we need to keep the option open." As for the act, Ms. Flanagan said the government is committed to a review.
"At this point, we are studying legislation in other jurisdictions to see what they have done," she said. Ms. Flanagan said the government intends to hold public consultations, but no timeframe has been set.
The report also urged independent studies into the health of residents in areas where uranium is processed. This includes Port Hope, Blind River and Chalk River. The coalition also called for a halt to new nuclear power plants and suggested money be directed to reducing energy use and increasing sustainable sources of energy.
For a full list of recommendations, visit www.ccamu.ca.
First Nations will fight uranium mining
24th June 2008
The Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations in New Brunswick are experiencing growing frustration with the approach of industry and government toward achieving development and self-sufficiency in the province.
The First Peoples are being conspicuously ignored, and their rights flagrantly violated and infringed, as result of this new-drive to modernize and expand. Industry pays lip service to aboriginal concerns and hopes to be left alone by First Nations in exchange for a modest donation.
While I do not wish to stereotype all industrial players as acting in such a cavalier fashion, the majority do. Some refuse to address First Nation concerns at all.
Meanwhile, the wealth of generations is being pumped out, dug up, paved over and redesigned without so much as a thank you to the peoples who first occupied these territories.
Of particular concern to the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet peoples is the new scourge of uranium mining.
If uranium mining takes place it will take place in our backyards, near our farms and villages, close to our rivers.
The First Nations will not allow their natural heritage to be poisoned by this ill-conceived effort.
Does anyone believe that the First Nations would meekly stand by and allow others to destroy our bond with the land when we, ourselves, are prohibited from doing so by the very nature of our ancient title? Uranium mining is clearly the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet "line in the sand."
We will do whatever else is necessary to prevent this harmful exploitation.
President, Mawiw Council
STATEMENT FROM THE ARDOCH ALGONQUIN FIRST NATION
Ardoch Algonquin First Nation
Honorary Chief Harold Perry
1045 Canoe Lane
National Aboriginal Solidarity Day
21st June 2008
On May 28th the Ardoch Algonquin people and our allies celebrated a victory when our retired chief and negotiator Robert Lovelace was released from jail. Robert had been the political prisoner of the province of Ontario for peacefully protesting the destruction and contamination of our community lands as a result of a proposed uranium exploration project licensed by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. Robert and the community initiated a protest on June 28 of last year against Frontenac Ventures Corporation for exploration work that they had begun without proper consultation between the Province of Ontario and Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. Ardoch Algonquin First Nation did not consent to this exploration project. Faced with irresponsible development that would impact our lands and waterscapes we undertook a four-pronged approach that included educating our community and the public on the dangers uranium poses to all parts of the Natural World. The second prong was direct action including information tolls and a "camp in" at the Robertsville Site. The third and forth prongs were legal action accompanied by political pressure. Since Robert's release, we have included a fifth prong of healing to deal with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual impacts of colonial actions by the provincial government: primarily the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Mines, and the Ministry of Natural Resources.
These ministries are responsible for allowing this situation to happen, escalate, and persist. They have failed in their fiduciary responsibilities to truly consult with us and provide us with evidence that uranium exploration is benign. Does determining the placement and number of holes constitute consultation? Or does consultation actually consider whether or not the free entry system and the staking of private and Aboriginal lands is legitimate. Does true consultation allow the building of roads into wetlands, the destruction of trap lines and traditional harvesting areas, the encroachment on habitats and the contamination of an entire watershed? Or does consultation take into account the voices of the affected communities: Algonquin, settler, and our relatives in the Natural World?
Robert Lovelace was criminalized, fined and sentenced to six months in jail for doing nothing more than upholding Algonquin Law. Algonquin Law is not complex, it just requires human beings to think in a much larger context and to consider how any project would impact future generations and the Natural World upon which we all depend for our survival. Robert did not want to be incarcerated but did so willingly as a consequence of "walking his talk." He does not consider himself to be a hero or a victim and would do it again if it meant stopping something that would cause such utter destruction to our homeland.
Having said this, the impact of incarceration over the past three and a half months has taken its toll on Robert and he is suffering greatly from this experience. Over the past few weeks since his release our community focus has been on helping Robert to readjust to life outside the walls of his cell. We have therefore been unable to comment publicly on what has been transpiring at Robertsville. Ardoch Algonquin First Nation continues to oppose uranium exploration within our community lands. While our sister community may feel inclined to negotiate with Mining and Northern Development and Frontenac Ventures with respect to their own community interests, such negotiations and any eventual outcome will have no bearing on our position or interests in our lands.
Two fundamental points must be remembered. Direct negotiations between Aboriginal peoples and a resource extraction company is a violation of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which outlines the parameters that must be followed in such negotiations. Frontenac Ventures is an exploration company who wishes to explore for minerals on Algonquin land that has not been ceded to the Crown. Therefore, they are a third party who must remain outside the negotiations until such time as these matters are completed between the affected Aboriginal peoples (in this case Ardoch Algonquin First Nation) and the Crown (provincial/federal governments). The second point concerns the mediated talks that were held during the winter. These talks fell apart because the ministry refused to even acknowledge the possibility that consultation between Algonquin people and the Crown could include no drilling as an outcome.
Ardoch Algonquin First Nation has never wavered in its commitment to not allow uranium exploration on our community lands. We have suffered the consequences of resisting this project: we have been criminalized, fined, and sentenced to jail for upholding this position. We have suffered physical and psychological stress and harm from this experience that will haunt us for many years. In spite of this, we cannot in good conscience support uranium exploration on our community lands because we know there are negative impacts associated with this type of development. We have conducted extensive research on the potential impacts and feel that they are sufficient to justify our position. Those impacts include contamination of ground and surface water, and the release of radon gas from drilling. Humans, animals, amphibians, plant life and other parts of the Natural World that depend upon that ecosystem for survival will be at a much higher risk of radiation poisoning, ill health and mortality as a result. Furthermore, the construction of roads and removal of "overburden" will also have an impact upon sacred, social, and subsistence sites that will negatively affect our physical, cultural, and spiritual survival.
The charges that Ardoch initiated and pursued against Frontenac Ventures through the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment are a recent example of our determination to win this struggle. The McGuinty Government and Frontenac Ventures should never mistake a quiet Ardoch for a defeated Ardoch. We have not gone away and the protection of our homeland is still paramount. The peaceful resolution of this conflict lies squarely on the shoulders of the McGuinty Government.
For more information contact:
Chief Paula Sherman
Acting Chief Mireille Lapointe
Christopher M. Reid
Barrister & Solicitor
154 Monarch Park Ave.
Toronto, ON M4J 4R6
Tel: (416) 466-9928
Fax: (416) 466-1852
Nuclear critic Dr. Gordon Edwards
Current technology insufficient for uranium mining, says critic
BY BRENT FOX
20th June 2008
We have to be careful when it comes to mining, handling and using uranium.
Nuclear critic Dr. Gordon Edwards spoke to eastern Valley members of the Council of Canadians in Wolfville Wednesday evening, June 18.
A Vanier College math professor, Edwards is also a co-founder and the president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. He has assisted in getting uranium exploration moratoria in a number of jurisdictions, including Nova Scotia.
The province's uranium exploration moratorium -- which is actually only a government policy, not legislation -- has been in effect since the early 1980s. Meanwhile, areas of Hants and Kings counties have been cited as potential uranium sources.
Edwards noted the importance of getting the current moratorium into law. He pointed out that for every pound of uranium recovered, it leaves a ton of tailings. As well, 85 per cent of the radiation remains in those crushed rock tailings, which have to be stored safely. At the same time, one has to be mindful that the half-life of uranium radiation is 76,000 years. At the same time, other radioactive waste is also involved.
Those other products can wind up in the water table, he said. "It's tricky stuff, and our technology is not really up to it." Despite technology and methods improving, it's not enough. "We're not in control as much as we think we are."
The required tailing ponds are elaborate, they take up space and they are likely to be abandoned before the half-life is over.
Canada remains a top uranium exporter, though none of the product has gone toward weapons since 1965.
As for using nuclear energy as a way to reduce global arming, Edwards urged caution. Fear can lead people to make mistakes. "Fear stampedes you into acting without reflecting on the consequences."
He said there are safer alternative for power generation: solar, wind and tidal, and, there is more efficient use of electrical power.
Used for nuclear energy, uranium fuel rods are handleable with care when it first goes into a reactor, but become extremely dangerous when they come out.
It also means that the fuel has to be cooled for several years or there would be a meltdown.
Candu reactors don't leak, he noted, but that doesn't preclude accidents and accidental events like at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania three decades ago.
So why build them? Edwards noted that the application to build plants in Alberta is against the will of the oil companies and the Alberta government. But the companies building the reactors want them so they can sell others in the Third World.
Opposition Natural Resources critic Charlie Parker told the crowd that his party, the NDP, has been attempting to get the moratorium into law through legislation.
As well, he noted, the party has attempted to eliminate the moratorium's provisions that all exploration ceases if uranium turns up at a drill site for something else.
"We want to ensure that other kinds of mining aren't impeded by the moratorium," he said. He also made it clear that the NDP is opposed to uranium mining, but not to other mining. "We're not opposed to responsible mining," he said, "responsible environmentally."
Parker pointed out that mining is important to employment and the economy of rural Nova Scotia. The other parties declined to send representatives to the event.
West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee told a Voluntary Planning input session last May that his municipality would not support uranium mining.
Natural Resources Minister David Morse had suggested earlier this year that it could be time to revisit the matter of the moratorium with an open mind.
Peterborough city council urges provincial government to suspend uranium exploration in the province
Brendan Wedley, Peterborough Examiner
17th June 2008
City council called Monday night for the province to suspend uranium exploration - the same day the provincial government announced it would build two new nuclear reactors at its Darlington station.
John Kittle, with the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium, urged council to pass the resolution calling for the moratorium.
Allowing mining companies to explore for uranium in Ontario watersheds is a recipe for disaster, Kittle said.
"They're not good neighbours," he said. "The province should treat uranium as a high priority special case.
"We need to make it crystal clear to the province that we don't want this."
In addition to the environmental impacts, Kittle said the mining legislation allows companies to stake claims without permission from property owners or municipalities.
"It's a throwback to the Wild West days and it's still on the books," he said of the legislation. "The McGuinty Liberals are determined to allow uranium exploration in Ontario."
Council unanimously approved the resolution to ask the province for a moratorium untilall environmental and health issues related to uranium mining are resolved.
The gallery erupted with applause after the vote.
About 40 people were in the gallery. Roughly 30 left the room after council dealt with the uranium mining issue.
John Etches, a member of Safe and Green Energy, said there's a real possibility of uranium mining in Haliburton County, in the Otonabee watershed area.
There are no active uranium mines in Ontario but several companies have staked claims and are exploring the potential of extracting minerals, Kittle said.
Safe and Green Energy states 19 Ontario municipalities have already passed similar resolutions to the one approved by Peterborough council.
The $26 billion that the province is spending to refurbish its existing nuclear reactors could be better spent on alternative forms of power, such as wind and solar energy, Coun. Dean Pappas said.
"The cost of nuclear is going through the roof," he said.
Hopefully the mining industry and the province will come to terms with historic practices that have left us in an unfortunate situation, Coun. Len Vass said.
"Look no further than Madoc, Marmora - our neighbours have been affected by mining operations historically," he said.
Coun. Jack Doris and Bob Hall supported the resolution but told council they support the province's push to build new nuclear reactors.
"This is more about making sure that mining is done in a responsible way, that it's done in an environmentally friendly way," Hall said. "I don't want us to be slamming the door - or people to perceive us to be slamming the door - against well paying, good jobs for the city of Peterborough."
Grits drill deep on uranium promise
Adam Huras, Telegraph-Journal
16th June 2008
MONCTON - Premier Shawn Graham says his government will bring forward "significant policy changes" to address the public's concern over uranium mining in the province by the end of the month.
In a speech to more than 1,000 of his Liberal counterparts at a party fundraiser Saturday evening in Moncton, Graham talked mostly about what the party has completed so far, as it gets closer to the midway point of its mandate this fall.
But the premier did take time to address the uranium mining issue, which has become a contentious subject in the province, venturing further than he previously has in simply stating that the government would "re-examine" current watershed and well field regulations.
"We need to be a government that is responsive to the concerns of New Brunswickers," Graham said. "We know, for example, that there have been concerns recently about uranium exploration in New Brunswick.
"Our governmental services must be more effective for the companies and people."
The environment and natural resources departments are said to be currently reviewing why an exploration company was able to drill in the off-limits Turtle Creek watershed - which services 130,000 people with drinking water - as was discovered last week.
More than 19,000 uranium claims have already been made across New Brunswick.
The government shut down a drilling operation after a tip from a member of the public came forward.
Over the past several weeks, information sessions with concerned landowners in Fredericton and Moncton turned into boisterous protests, with citizens voicing a passionate distaste for uranium exploration.
The shutdown of drilling at Turtle Creek resulted in the province's environment minister saying the government is reviewing its drilling guidelines.
"The purpose of that re-examination is to determine if there are any changes that could and perhaps should be made with a view to better protect designated drinking water supplies in respect to any mining activity," stated the department's office.
In his speech, the premier also spoke of three projects he said his government is actively pursuing, including a lobby to the federal government for funding to complete the twinning of Route 1 highway.
Graham said the project will cost an investment of $275 million, something a $2 billion federal gateway fund should help pay for.
"So far, they've earmarked $400 million for the Windsor-Detroit corridor and another $1 billion for the Asia-Pacific Gateway," he said. "What's been earmarked for Ontario and British Columbia is more than 10 times the amount we're looking for to complete Route 1.
"We're asking for a fair deal."
Graham also said the province has made a request to the federal government for $5.8 million over three years to help recruit French-speaking immigrants to rural regions of New Brunswick.
He also wants to partner with Ottawa to develop a Centre for Advanced Training technology at CFB Gagetown.
"CFB Gagetown is already a leader in sophisticated computer simulators," said Graham. "By partnering with the federal government, University of New Brunswick, the National Research Council and the IT sector, CFB Gagetown and New Brunswick can be a global leader in advanced training technologies."
Graham used the rest of his speech to breeze through everything from the environment to health care to industry.
Graham praised his government's work in introducing a Climate Action Plan while also signing agreements with the 12 largest industrial energy users in the province.
He also highlighted investments in hospitals and the provinces economic battle against "have-not" province status.
SHABOT OBAADJIWAN FIRST NATION AND ONTARIO TO CONSULT ON URANIUM EXPLORATION
13th June 2008
Shabot Obaadjiwan Traditional Territory
Sharbot Lake, Ontario
Today the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation won a key concession from Ontario in its efforts to protect the environment and citizens of their traditional territory. Ontario, the Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin, and the Algonquin of Ontario, with the support of Frontenac Ventures Corporation, are developing a consultation process that will allow them to share information and engage in dialogue towards resolving the issues regarding the uranium exploration project.
The parties have agreed to focus on health, safety, and environmental concerns, as well as Algonquin Aboriginal values.
In an agreed statement the parties declared, "We intend this to be a true dialogue, with opportunities to listen and through respectful relations to make a new beginning at addressing each other's concerns and interests."
This agreement came on the same day that Ontario disclosed it has laid charges against Frontenac Ventures and Gemmill Sand and Gravel Limited with breach of environmental regulations. Road construction permitting access to the proposed uranium drill sites has damaged the sensitive wetlands in the area, dumping fill into the waterways severing the natural flow of the water. The two companies will have to answer these charges 7 August 2008 in Provincial Court in Kingston Ontario.
Chief Doreen Davis of the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation said, "We are pleased to see these steps taken by the Government and will continue to press for the protection of the environment and citizens of the region. "We feel these, and anticipated outcomes, vindicate our choice to pursue a legal strategy."
For Further Information Contact: Chief Doreen Davis (613) 279-1970