Fear continues to rear its ugly head in Quebec as opposition over uranium mining grows louder.
According to the Financial Post, hundreds of local municipalities have joined the First Nations to protest against uranium mining operations in the province, which they believe could damage their health and natural environments, including traditional hunting and fishing.
“Like shale gas, it touches a sensitive chord in Quebec,” said Ugo Lapointe of MiningWatch Canada, which opposes mining of the metal that fuels nuclear power plants.
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In July, Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur I’environnement (BAPE) released a 626-page report condemning uranium mining operations in Quebec. The report stated there are still too many uncertainties and “significant gaps in scientific knowledge of the impacts of uranium mining on the environment and public health”, and concluded “it would be counter indicated, [or ill-advised] in the present context, to allow uranium mining operations in Quebec.”
While no official decision has been made, Quebec could permanently ban mining for uranium, following the footsteps of British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Currently, the only uranium-producing province in Canada is Saskatchewan.
Michael Binder, the head of Canada’s nuclear safety watchdog, said the report’s conclusions and recommendations “lack scientific basis and rigor.”
To “suggest that uranium mining is unsafe is to imply that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the government of Saskatchewan have been irresponsible in their approval and oversight of the uranium mines of Canada for the last 30 years.”
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Former uranium capital Elliot Lake has become a vibrant retirement community in recent years despite the fact 12 uranium mines operated for decades until the 1990s.
In Saskatchewan, the nuclear safety confirmed there is no link between cancer development and living near or working in a uranium mine or processing facility.
According to Valerie Fillion, head of the Quebec Mineral Exploration Association, the BAPE report has created a difficult position for the government as the report has created uncertainty for foreign investors looking at the province.
“Yes it’s political, but it’s also very economic because if they want us to bring investment to Quebec, some of those investments might not come depending on the decision they make.”
(Source: Financial Post)