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As time goes by, it is growing harder for the nuclear industry to hide the toxic effects and legacy of uranium mining. But, uranium mining still disproportionately affects people who can be marginalized in some way by governments. The case against uranium mining is not only a public health and environmental issue, it is also a human rights issue.
Slow in coming, but important, progress is made in forcing Areva to take responsibility for the workers who have fallen sick at their uranium mining facilities in Niger. This is good news, but remember- this is the company that just a few years ago when confronted on this issue said publicly to Der Spiegel (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,686774,00.html) that Niger was poor, needed the jobs, and should be grateful.
Excellent work on the part of Greenpeace, SHERPA, and others for their hard work in getting Areva this far. And, for bringing the plight of uranium miners and their families to the public eye. The front end of the nuclear fuel cycle is deadly, dirty, and decidedly not carbon free.
NIAMEY (Reuters) - Areva said on Tuesday it would monitor the health of thousands of workers and residents exposed to its uranium mine sites in Niger, bowing to pressure from advocacy groups.
The move comes a year after the French nuclear giant launched a plan in Gabon to treat more than 1,000 former miners who fell ill after working in one of Areva's mines there.
"Health observatories have now become a reality in two African countries and Areva wants to extend the health monitoring to all the mines it operates in the world," said Alain Acker, medical director for Areva.
"In case of illness attributable to professional activity, Areva would take responsibility for healthcare up to French medical standards."
This is a very good synopsis of the information Virginians must sort out as they struggle to understand the enormous impact uranium mining will have on their state. It is also an excellent look at the misinformation and outright lies spread by the industry and often enabled by governments around the world, not just in Virginia.
Star Tribune l KATIE WHITEHEAD 12 October, 2011
When Virginia Uranium Inc. (VUI) took Virginia legislators to see a closed uranium mine near Bessines, France, in June, company vice president Walter Coles Jr. asked the mayor of Bessines, Andrea Soyer, what advice she would give them.
Her interpreter translated her response: "Very big rules to follow... With people, tell them everything... Not to hide anything... Really to tell everything."
A listener paraphrased: "Transparency. Be open. Don't hide. When you start to hide things, people start to suspect." http://vimeo.com/27119336
I would agree: transparency is critical as legislators consider whether to establish "big rules" to govern uranium mining in Virginia.
There's general agreement that uranium mining without "big rules" has caused great harm to people and the environment.
Scientist Who Testified In Support Of Mining Around The Grand Canyon Stands To Make $225,000 From It
The battle over uranium mining near the Grand Canyon turns even more sordid as US Geological Survey scientist is shown to benefit to the tune $225k if the new mining claims are allowed to go through. It is also important to point out that the proposed withdrawal only addresses NEW mining claims, not existing ones. And while it is important the moritorium is passed, the Grand Canyon is not the only thing at stake here. It is important to protect one of the US's national treasures, but uranium mining will devastate human health and the environment, and put further at risk the Colorado River. Those are things worth protecting as well. This should not be allowed to become a sleight of hand where the photo-op site is protected at the expense allowing dangerous practices to continue elsewhere.
As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, Republican members of Congress have been waging a war to open 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon to uranium mining. Last week Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar took one of the last steps in withdrawing the area from new mining claims. But in response, Republicans have introduced H.R. 3155, the Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act of 2011, to keep the decision from moving forward. The issue has become “one of the top legislative priorities of Republicans in Congress” as Energy and Environment Daily reported this morning.
At a hearing yesterday on the bill in the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands, Republicans called a witness to the stand who is a retired United States Geological Survey scientist. Dr. Karen Wenrich noted in her testimony supporting the bill that the Bureau of Land Management has “vastly overstated the environmental harm caused by past and potential uranium development.”
However, under questioning from Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), it became clear through public Securities and Exchange Commission filings that Wenrich stands to make $225,000 by selling 61 uranium claims that she owns only if the Interior Department’s withdrawal does not go forward...
Australian Senator Scott Ludlum makes a moving speech at the send off of Australia's Walk Away From Uranium Mining. The work to end uranium mining in Australia is far from over, and much work needs to be done around the world. But, a moment must be taken to honor the brave and tireless campaigners of Footprints For Peace as they take yet another strong stand against the front end of the nuclear fuel chain.
Senator Scott Ludlum l 24 August, 2011
LA Times l Neela Banerjee 21 June, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Monday that it intends to place a 20-year ban on mining 1 million acres of land bordering the Grand Canyon, an area where uranium mining claims have spiked 2,000% in the last seven years.
The ban would strengthen a moratorium on new mining claims and activity, which the administration placed on Grand Canyon border lands two years ago in response to the jump in uranium stakes.Interior Department officials said the agency initially would extend the current moratorium another six months, until December, in order to complete the steps necessary to establish the 20-year ban. Mines currently in operation would not be affected.
Environmentalists, some lawmakers and water utilities serving metropolitan areas in the southwest, including Los Angeles, said the decision would protect the critical Colorado River watershed from possible contamination from uranium mining and would prevent the Grand Canyon panorama from being gradually industrialized.
The decision to mine uranium in Tanzania Heritage Site may have already been taken before environmental assessments could be done. The government is projected to earn $5million/year from the mining, while companies are projecting $200 million/yr earnings.
Unesco spokesman Lazare Eloundou Assomo told the BBC it would be "regrettable" if Tanzania started uranium mining without the UN body's approval.
Uranium mining has caused devastating environmental and health damage where ever it has been conducted.
BBC News Africa l 1 July, 2011
Ezekiel Maige said he told the recent UN World Heritage Centre meeting it would mean the park's size would need to be reduced by less than 1%.
The UN body said it would approve the plans, as long as environmental assessments were carried out.
Money made from the mining would help in the park's upkeep, Mr Maige said.
According to the UN cultural organisation Unesco, the 5m hectare-Selous Game Reserve in the south of Tanzania has large numbers of elephants, black rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles - and is relatively undisturbed by humans.
The low carbon nuclear argument can only be made by ignoring the front end of the fuel cycle. More, uranium mining has been from the start an enormous environmental hazard and energy justice issue with impacted communities and workers bearing the brunt of corporate and government greed.
Earthworks l Erika Kamptner 6/23/2011
From the introduction:
Uranium was first mined in the United States in 1871, but industrial-scale uranium mining boomed at the end of World War II and the dawn of the Atomic Age. The industry's history of contaminating streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater with radioactive or toxic wastes is just as long, and it persists as abandoned open-pit mines from the Cold War era continue to leach pollutants into waterways, mostly on public or tribal lands, in 14 Western states. By 2009, 14 uranium mines were in operation in the U.S., and four were in situ operations that involve injecting chemical-laced solutions into the ground to dissolve uranium from ore and then pumping out the uranium-containing fluids.
But as we will see, modern-day uranium exploration and mining are far from being as safe as they propose to be. Together the legacy and the future of uranium mining are threatening communities who, under the lax provisions of the 1872 Mining Law, have little recourse against the reach of large multinational mining companies. The new 21st century push for nuclear power in the U.S. and worldwide significantly increases the risk of future uranium development leading to more tragic contamination stories like those outlined in this report.
This report tells only some of the stories of communities impacted by uranium mining.
We highlight the more serious cases of contamination from past and present mining. We spotlight the special places threatened by the devastating and lasting impacts of exploration and drilling. And we recommend policy changes that are urgently needed to protect the public from an industry whose byproducts too often include environmental degradation and health hazards.
It is long past time that regulation of uranium mining is brought into the 21st Century.
Eric Jantz, the attorney in the case, says he is hopeful. His clients and the U.N. both recognize the right to clean, potable, water as a human right. His clients cannot take their claim to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights because the U.S. does not recognize its jurisdiction. Nonetheless, according to the petition and all logic and humanity, "the State has violated Petitioners' human rights and breached its obligations under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man." Let there be justice.
NYTimes l APRIL REESE 12 May, 2011
In a last attempt to deep-six a controversial project to mine uranium near two Navajo communities in northwestern New Mexico, a Navajo environmental group is taking its fight to the global stage.
Tomorrow, Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, with the help of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, will submit a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arguing that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to grant Hydro Resources Inc., a license to mine uranium ore near Churchrock and Crown Point, N.M., is a violation of international laws.
The groups contend the mines, first permitted by NRC in 1999, could contaminate drinking water for 15,000 Navajo residents in and around the two communities, which lie just outside the Navajo Nation. In 2005, the Navajo's tribal government passed a law prohibiting uranium mining within its borders.