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

by Bob Stevenson

Good afternoon: I appreciate the effort that the panel is making in serving our public interest. My last presentation to Marion Dewar and others was six years ago.That was part of a community action in response to the “Police Riot” of November 16 and 17 of 2001. For those of us who feel that social justice needs a lot more attention, there are lots of issues and I'm only on 3 list serves. As president of Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice I have sent a letter to the Premier stating our opposition to this topic but today I am speaking for myself.

I'm happy to be here to support the opposition to any uranium mining in Ontario. How many times do we have to say that uranium mining and indeed the whole uranium industry is an extremely dangerous enterprise. During 1979-80 I was on a sabbatical from my teaching job here in Ottawa and was attending Simon Fraser University. It so happened that there was a teach-in that Fall on the wisdom of allowing uranium mining in British Columbia. The teach-in was successful and helped to persuade the provincial government to not allow uranium mining. One of the memorable speakers was the soft-energy guru, Amory Lovins. His recommendations are still relevant today: energy conservation, improved energy efficiency and alternative fuels. He likened the uranium industry to a dinosaur whose tail had been cut off but it was taking a long time time for the message to get to its brain. Here we are almost thirty years later and the industry is still being heavily subsidized by the federal government. The message still hasn't got to its brain. Indeed our provincial government plans to spend $ 40 billions on new reactors.

Some even suggest that the nuclear power industry exists to fuel the nuclear weapons program which is even more madness. I will not enumerate all of the threats from the air and water pollution at the mine site, the dangers in the processing, the hazards in the operation of the reactors or the fact that the experts haven't figured out what to do with spent fuel. This is an industry riddled with problems. I look forward today to hearing Dr. Gordon Edwards' contribution to the debate. He has been in the forefront of warning us for decades. These issues were also well documented by Dr. Fred Knelman in the 70's in his book, “Nuclear Power, the Unforgiving Technology”. It's all about the “Faustian Bargain” where we gain unlimited power in exchange for risks at each stage of the system.

Recently I was traveling by train through Port Hope, Ontario. As you approach the station at the centre of the old town, the train slows down through an industrial site with 100's of barrels lying on the ground. It is the site of the uranium processing facility. You wonder what's in the barrels and how safe is this place? An article in the Walrus magazine doesn't allay your fears. The company started in 1933 as Eldorado Mining and Refining. The present company sent out letters to the nearby residents about what to do if there was an accidental emission from the plant. They were advised to stay indoors and install plastic film over their windows. This is an industry that has been there for 75 years and that is the best that they can offer. This is an industry that needs to be controlled and eventually eliminated. In Europe, countries such as Sweden and Germany are planning to decommission all their nuclear reactors by 2015. They are simply too dangerous. They are in the 21 st century while our politicians are still advocating the wonder fuel of the 1950's. We could start by calling for a ban on uranium mining in Ontario and then demand elimination of all subsidies to the nuclear industry.

The interest of this panel in this issue is much appreciated. It is a fine start to a campaign to inform the public of the hazards of this industry.