The Hazards of Uranium Mining

Publisher:  Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Canada
Year Published:  1979  
Pages:  4  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX996

This leaflet summarizes Britich Columbia opposition to uranium mining.

Abstract:  This leaflet summarizes Britich Columbia opposition to uranium mining: ". . .the fact is that uranium cannot be mined safely, because no technology exists to prevent radioactive by products, such as radium and radon gas, from getting into the environment beyond the boundaries of the uranium mine." Mine waste (tailings) retains at least 85% of the uranium ore's radioactivity and contains radium-226 which accumulates in the bones and radon-222 gas responsible for fatal lung cancers in miners. These tailings remain radioactive for about 1,000,000 years.

In 1971, the price of uranium was $4 a pound. Canada played a major role within an international cartel that artificially created the present price of $50 a pound. Yet in 1976 alone, Atomic Energy Canada Ltd., a crown corporation, lost $180 million. And the government could find no funds in 1977 to rectify the situation of 260 homes in Elliott Lake found to be radioactive.

The text refers to the 1976 report of the Ontario Royal Commission on the Health and Safety of Workers in Mines which states that uranium miners risk cancer at 3 times the national average and that 81 miners died of lung cancer at Elliott Lake. While experts consider the federal health regulations inadequate, none exist in the province of Britich Columbia. The leaflet concludes that a decision needs to be made by the people of the Province, not by Ottawa, Victoria, or the mining companies.

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