Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU)
Citizens’ Inquiry on the Impacts of the Uranium Cycle
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A Submission

By Katherine Kitching

As a (somewhat) young adult who looks forward to living the next 50 years here in Ontario, I feel very uncomfortable with the idea that our government is planning on pushing forward with new nuclear energy projects.

First off, I am uncomfortable with nuclear energy because I think people see it as a "free" energy source that allows us to keep consuming and consuming at greater rates.

I think we need to take a serious look at our energy consumption. No energy is consumed without consequences to the environment, even wind power. Even a "clean" energy source still creates pollution in the building and running of the facility, in the production and disposal of the appliances we buy that consume the endless energy produced, and even in the waste-heat that all these appliances, factories, and other energy-consuming activities produce. And as everyone knows (at the very least from Chernobyl), there are inherent environmental risks to nuclear energy programs that could, in worst-case scenarios, lead to much more significant environmental issues.

The amount of energy we Ontarians already consume is vast, and frankly, I feel that it is vastly excessive. There are so many things we take for granted, like having a house comfortably cooled to 18 degrees celcius in the heat of summer, or throwing our clothes into the dryer even on a hot sunny day because it's more convenient than hanging them on the line, or using appliances to perform simple tasks like sharpen our pencils or grind our pepper, that perhaps we need to re-think.

I am always humbled when I take a moment to reflect upon the millions (if not billions) of people in the world whose lives are probably 100 if not 1000 times less comfortable than ours. There are people who walk 20+ kilometres a day to get to work and back. People who have to bathe in a bucket. People who have to dry their clothes on a clothesline even in the middle of winter. These people are still getting by. Even if we made our lives just a LITTLE bit less comfortable, (but still waaaay more comfortable than the bulk of people on this planet), we could save a lot of energy and wouldn't have a need for more nuclear reactors.

Secondly, I am someone who is deeply concerned about this country's dealings with Aboriginal peoples - I think that we should be taking immediate steps to honour all land claims and treaties (and do so with a GENEROUS interpretation of them), and do what it takes to ensure Aboriginal peoples equal footing with other Canadians in terms of quality of life (health, education, political rights, discrimination-free environments, etc). To me it is therefore a no-brainer that we would at all costs avoid undertaking any sort of mineral exploration (or other resource exploitation) on lands that are currently part of a land claim process. To do otherwise is not only deeply disrespectful but, to put it bluntly, makes us look like a bunch of greedy pigs ("Let's go in and grab everything we can before we have to hand the land over!").

Thirdly, I am concerned about the link between uranium mining and nuclear weapons production. How can I be guaranteed that uranium mining in Ontario will not be used for weapons production in the U.S. or elsewhere? Certainly I don't trust the government to widely advertise the fact! Wars are some of the most polluting events this planet has ever seen. In fact, it's almost laughable for me to try to cut down on the amount of driving I do in a year when one bomb blowing up in another part of the world is spewing thousands of times more pollutants into the air than the car I borrowed will ever emit. Not to mention that nuclear weapons cause horrific damage to the environment and to people through the after-affects of the radiation (I once saw an absolutely mind-blowing book of photos of babies born in hospitals in Iraq since the start of the war, with some of the most grotesque deformities you could possibly imagine).

If we allow uranium to be mined, then it opens the possibility for some of this uranium to be used for weapons manufacturing. If we don't mine it in the first place, then we can be sure we're not contributing to this industry.

And finally, I REALLY believe that the "precautionary principle" should be a fundamental concept for Canadians to live by. We don't really know how to deal with nuclear waste. We can't be absolutely certain of averting a Chernobyl-style disaster. Why take the risk? Ontarians are already so rich in so many ways, and as I mentioned earlier, enjoy a VASTLY better quality of life than the average Joe on this planet. Do we really need more, more, more? I would rather make do with a little less and rest secure in the fact that my energy is coming from more reliable, safe, ethical and environmentally-sound sources.