There’s been a media frenzy this week over Cameco’s purchase of 550 tonnes of uranium or “yellowcake” from Iraq. Aside from highlighting the link between nuclear power and the nuclear weapons proliferation, the import of Saddam’s uranium to Port Hope is brining light to the dangers of mining and processing uranium in Canada.
Cameco’s Port Hope uranium refining facility has a long history of controversy. Earlier this spring, Cameco admitted that a leak from the facility may have been contaminating Lake Ontario for over a decade. There are also community groups in Port Hope working to stop radioactive emissions from Cameco’s refinery.
There are also grassroots groups across Canada fighting against uranium prospecting in their communities.
Last night, for instance, Lindsay Ontario passed a resolution calling on the McGuinty government to immediately place a moratorium on uranium prospecting. Twenty municipalities in Eastern Ontario, including Peterborough, Ottawa and Kingston, have also passed the resolution.
Similar groups are fighting uranium prospecting in Quebec. In New Brunswick over 30 environmental groups have called for a moratorium on uranium mining and the Conservative opposition has called for a referendum on the issue.
The environmental impacts of uranium mining and refining are severe. We’ll be hearing more and more from these local fights against nuclear development in the months to come.