Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Uranium Mining in Canada

Canada last week, April 2015

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a deal
with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa to confirm the export of
3,220 tonnes of uranium from northern Saskatchewan to India, a country
that has never signed the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT). That very day in Quebec City, Indigenous activists from
all over the world working to end uranium mining were meeting with
allies at the World Uranium Symposium. The symposium brought together
200 activists and organisers, physicians, environmentalists, and
researchers from the natural and social sciences, all working with the
intent to dismantle the nuclear industry and the huge costs associated
with it. 
Polls suggest that Canadians oppose a nuclear deal with
New Delhi, perhaps out of fear of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
But Indigenous activists reminded the symposium that the most obvious
costs were already being felt by their communities, even without the
immediate threat of nuclear war. Uranium mining, nuclear power
generation, and nuclear waste all result in grievous harm to ecological
and human health that lasts for countless generations.
Additionally, the social cost is high, in the public subsidies necessary to keep
nuclear energy viable, in the diversion of immense amounts of water
resources for nuclear industry use, and in the high carbon costs
associated with mining, transport, and storage of uranium, which makes
nuclear power a dubious choice to fight climate change. The only
tangible benefit to Harper's deal with India is the profit distributed
to shareholders of Cameco, the company responsible for uranium mining in
northern Saskatchewan. Attendees from Saskatchewan's Committee for
Future Generations suggested that the complicity between government and
industry has led to a health system that refuses to acknowledge problems
related to the industry. Saskatchewan environmentalist and former MLA
Peter Prebble recalled that when it started in 1952, uranium mining was
established in the province to provide plutonium for the nuclear arms
industry of the USA, and baseline health studies were never
While Harper appeases his constituents, the agreement must also be viewed in
the context of longstanding grassroots resistance in India to nuclear
plants, most famously at the plant in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, where
the full repressive force of the Indian state has been deployed against
anti-nuclear activists. Similar popular resistance occurs in Maharashtra
at the Jaitapur plant. India's civil nuclear programme has also been
placed under scrutiny through the country's mechanism for public
interest litigation. Indian researchers attending the Symposium affirmed
that lax industry regulations are a concern, with companies preying on
the poor. But Modi too is pandering to those who can extract profit in
the short-term from the building and maintenance of nuclear power
plants, rather than those who will deal with its long-term
Prime Minister Harper stated that the moratorium on export of nuclear
industry materials to India, which has been in effect ever since New
Delhi used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb in the 1970s,
had exerted an unnecessary pall over the collaboration possible between
the two countries. While diversion of uranium into military purposes
remains a concern, the Symposium did note that the most pressing threat
for nuclear war remained in the stockpiles of nuclear weapons still held
by the five traditional nuclear powers, the vast majority of them in
the United States and Russia, and called for complete disarmament. The
symposium's declaration also notes the dangers associated with uranium
in all phases of its extraction and use; from mining, processing,
civilian and military use, and storage. It calls for a worldwide ban on
the exploration and use of uranium, especially in that such activities
violate the rights of Indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed
consent for activities on their territories. It insists that
accountability for those harmed by uranium should last generations into
the future while the mineral remains radioactive. That this list
of demands has to be stated at all may seem depressing. But there is
hope. World experts such as Mycle Schneider reported to the Symposium
that the world's generation of nuclear power is decreasing, dropping in
2012 by 12 per cent over the historic maximum in 2006. Additionally, the
world's largest builder of reactors, French state-controlled company
AREVA, lost up to 88 per cent of its share value between 2008 and 2012.
Germany is now creating more jobs in renewable energy than in nuclear
and coal energy production.' The declaration also highlights that
Quebec is now also home to some of the most promising work against
uranium exploitation. The Cree Nation of Eeyou Itschee has stood in
solidarity with its citizens in Mistissini who have resisted uranium
exploration near their community, with Cree youth walking 850 km across
Quebec last year to demonstrate their opposition to the plan. Their work
has galvanised opposition around uranium mining, with the Inuit of
Nunavik in northern Quebec, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and
Labrador which includes 10 Indigenous nations across 43 communities, and
over 300 municipalities in Quebec rejecting uranium mines. Meanwhile,
Saskatchewan's premier Brad Wall has welcomed the deal with India,
stating that the 4,000 workers, including many Indigenous employees,
stand to benefit from the deal. The struggle against uranium is
not over, not across Canada, not in India, nor elsewhere. An
immigrant who made Montreal home, Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay is currently a
rural family doctor in northern Ontario. He is an organizer with the
Canadian chapter of the People's Health Movement and a
co-representative for the North America region on its global steering council.  
Lori Hanson is on the global steering council of the People's Health
Movement. She is a professor in community health and epidemiology and
lives in Saskatoon. Declaration of the World Uranium
Symposium 2015 Quebec City, Canada | April 16 2015
To endorse this resolution go to the link below: 

the participants of the World Uranium Symposium 2015, coming from 20
countries on five continents, having gathered in Quebec City, Canada,
the traditional territory of
the Huron-Wendat Nation, in April

2015; Acknowledging
that in 1943 Quebec City was the site where the United States, the United
Kingdom, and Canada entered into a formal cooperation agreement to
develop the first atomic bombs, resulting in the bombing of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki in 1945; Respecting the moratorium imposed by the
Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee in Northern Quebec on all
uranium-related activities on their lands, as well as the broad
consensus against uranium development by the Assembly of First
Nations of Quebec and
Labrador, the Inuit of Nunavik and over 300

municipalities across the province of

Recognizing the

growing awareness that nuclear power is not a cost-effective,

or safe response to climate change, and applauding the enormous
of the use of renewable energy and the significant strides

made in recent years to
phase out nuclear power;


the need for sustainable development and responsible


the unique health, environmental and social dangers present at all
of the nuclear chain, from the exploration, mining and milling

of uranium, to nuclear
power generation, the development of nuclear

weapons and the storage of radioactive

Recognizing that

the risk of contamination resulting from the extraction, use and

of radioactive substances presents a unique and grave threat to all
creatures, their environments and watersheds, transcending all

political and geographic
boundaries and enduring for eons to



that there are stores of radioactive waste throughout the world that
not been effectively isolated;

Recognizing that there is

compelling scientific evidence that there is no safe dose of

to radioactive emissions, and that even small doses can present health
to miners and local populations, animals and plant



that more must be done to understand, recognize and acknowledge the

scope and extent of all social, health and environmental short and long
term impacts
of uranium and nuclear-related activities on human

life, wildlife and plant life;

Recognizing both that the

technological development of nuclear energy opens the door
to the

development of nuclear weapons against which there is no effective
and that nuclear power generation facilities present a

serious threat in and of

Insisting that nuclear

regulating bodies be independent and work solely in the best

of people, animals and plant life;

Recalling the tragedies at

Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima Daiichi and many
other places

around the world;

Convinced that all non-military end-uses of

uranium, including medical uses, can be
readily satisfied in an

alternative manner;

Insisting that nuclear weapons and those

using depleted uranium be criminalized and
that all signatories be

held accountable to the obligations set out in the


by the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, alarmed by

and proliferation of nuclear arsenals, and convinced that the
consequences of nuclear detonations can be avoided only

when all nuclear weapons
and the systems that manufacture them have

been eliminated;

Affirming that it is in the interest of the

survival of humanity and of life on this planet
that nuclear weapons

are never used again, under any circumstances;

Recognizing that

those most immediately affected by uranium and nuclear related

often lack proper capacity and resources and that, as a result, such
infringe their fundamental human rights to life and

security of the person;

Affirming our commitment to the

principles of sustainable and equitable development,
and respect for

the fundamental human rights of all individuals and peoples for all

Acknowledging that unique and irreplaceable cultures and

landscapes have been and
continue to be endangered by uranium and

nuclear related activities;

Acknowledging that the world’s

Indigenous Peoples have disproportionately borne the
harmful burdens

of the global uranium industry, nuclear activities (including

and the dumping of radioactive waste;

Recalling that the United

Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
affirms the

rights of the world’s Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, and

social and environmental integrity which includes free, prior and
consent achieved through an independent, fair, transparent

and impartial process, and
recognizing that the survival and

well-being of Indigenous Peoples depends on full
respect for these

fundamental and inalienable rights;

Determined to reduce the

burden on future generations resulting from the extraction
and use of

radioactive substances;

Dedicating ourselves to a nuclear-free



1. We reaffirm the

Declaration of the World Uranium Hearing in Salzburg, Austria in

of the Indigenous World Uranium Summit in Window Rock, Navajo Nation,

in 2006, and of the IPPNW-World Conference in Basel, Switzerland in
Uranium and all radioactive substances must remain in their

natural location.

2. We demand a worldwide ban on uranium

exploration, mining, milling and
processing, as well as the

reprocessing of nuclear waste, and the irresponsible
management of

radioactive waste;

3. We call on all states, authorities and

Peoples to recognize and respect the rights of
Indigenous Peoples

including the right to self-determination and to free prior and

consent achieved through an independent, fair, transparent and
process, and to cease the pursuit of uranium- and

nuclear-related activities on
Indigenous Peoples’ lands in violation

of these rights;

4. We urge all states, authorities and Peoples

to provide full, fair and equitable redress
to all those harmed by

uranium- and nuclear-related activities and to ensure that

responsible are held accountable for their actions and failures;


We demand that all states, authorities and Peoples phase out and
eliminate nuclear
power generation and use, and dedicate themselves

to the development and use of
intelligent energy services based on

sustainable, safe and renewable energy resources;

6. We call on

all states, authorities and Peoples to strengthen their commitments

non-proliferation and disarmament, to eliminate all existing nuclear
to cease any and all development of nuclear weapon

technologies, and to support and
advance a legal treaty to ban all

nuclear weapons;

7. We call on all states, authorities and

Peoples to ensure that all existing radioactive
products, material

and structures from all phases of the nuclear weapons and power

are secured and managed in accordance with the best and safest
technology for the people, animals and plant life.


endorse this resolution go to the link below: