Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU)
Citizens’ Inquiry on the Impacts of the Uranium Cycle
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Uranium Exploration/Mining and the Nuclear Industry

Marion Moore

Uranium is the front end of the nuclear industry. Energy, weapons, and medicine all make use of nuclear technology. Exploration leads to mining which leads to milling which leads to enrichment which leads to the end uses energy, weapons, and medicine. Before we allow any exploration we need to be sure the end uses are safe, used for peaceful purposes, clean and economical. It is important to answer these questions first.

Nuclear energy is not safe. This is proven by the fact there is yet no permanent storage facilities for the stockpiled spent reactor fuel which will remain dangerously radioactive for time periods we can not comprehend. Nuclear power stations have become highly dangerous toxic waste sites.

Nuclear energy can no longer be considered peaceful. Since 1991 depleted uranium from the enrichment process has been used in weapons manufacture and is considered a form of low-level nuclear war. The international sales of Candu reactors have also contributed to nuclear arms proliferation.

Nuclear energy is not clean. The exploration, mining, milling and enrichment of uranium all use fossil fuels generating emissions which contribute to global warming. The construction, servicing and decommissioning of nuclear power plants will generate more CO2 emissions. Conservation and renewable energy together is the best clean sustainable choice.

Nuclear energy is not economical and the true cost is well hidden. Government subsidies to the industry are huge. Costs of properly managing the radioactive uranium mine tailings are not included. High nuclear reactor construction costs over runs are common. Toxic spent fuel rods stored at nuclear reactor sites will require a costly permanent storage facility. The full liability costs in the event of a reactor accident have been limited by government legislation. The costs of decommissioning nuclear facilities are also not included. In the end, cleaning up the waste of the full uranium/nuclear cycle will be paid by the public through their taxes and the negative health impacts.

The cost of choosing nuclear energy now is high. The only long-term sustainable solution for climate change is conservation with renewable energy sources. We do not have the time or resources to waste on nuclear power- which is not safe, peaceful, clean or economical.

Nuclear weapons are not safe to have in our world. Canada decided long ago not to manufacture or use nuclear weapons. We also do not export uranium which will be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. But we cannot control the end use of uranium once it is exported and it is very likely used for manufacturing nuclear weapons in other countries.

Nuclear medicine uses uranium. The reality is a very small amount of uranium is required to meet the needs of nuclear medicine. There already exists a vast amount of mined uranium to meet these needs far into the future. Uranium and its nuclear uses are not safe, peaceful, clean, or economical. The radioactive health risks, the use in weapons, the high CO2 emissions and the high economic costs make uranium/nuclear a very poor choice.

Producing uranium for these end uses also has grave health and environmental risks. Exploration, mining, milling the ore and enriching the uranium all pose very high health risks from radiation. If the only argument for producing uranium is economic development and rural jobs it is a weak argument which will leave a long standing environmental debt for future generations.

There is only one safe place for uranium. Leave it in the ground undisturbed where the earth can best protect us from its radiation.