Thursday, June 19, 2008

Uranium concerns voiced at meeting

Government needs to place a moratorium on the practice, public gathering told


MEMRAMCOOK - About 75 people filled the Abbey-Landry School auditorium in Memramcook last night, anxious for assurances that uranium mining in their midst would not be a threat to their health and the environment.

The people, like those at similar meetings held elsewhere in the province in past weeks, are worried about the long-term effects of mining the radioactive material and of the disposal of the mine tailings which remain a hazard to air, soil and water sources for a very long time.

A presentation by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, which organized the meeting, described the mining process and potential dangers, complete with photos of the impact of mining operations in other North American sites. Council spokesman Yvonne Devine talked about radioactive components that pose a deadly threat over thousands of years.

The fact that no MLAs were in the audience to explain their government's position on uranium mining in New Brunswick only exacerbated the issue for some of the audience.

Art Hacking of Calhoun said he was told by one MLA that he knew nothing about uranium mining yet voted against imposing a ban or moratorium, allowing exploration to continue.

A number of sites throughout southeast New Brunswick have been pegged for exploration although there is no guarantee that the exploration will find sufficient quantities of uranium ore to warrant full-scale mining, said Ron Shaw of the Department of Natural Resources. Nor will mining happen overnight. It takes years to go through the process before mining can begin, he said.

Those in attendance wanted to know if anyone in government was an expert in uranium mining and the safe disposal of radioactive materials but no one was there who could answer them.

Memramcook Mayor Donald LeBlanc reminded the gathering that the municipality, among others, adopted resolutions calling for a moratorium or ban while uranium mining is further investigated elsewhere.

British Columbia has banned uranium mining while Nova Scotia upheld a moratorium on mining and exploration.

The City of Moncton also called for a ban of exploration in and near the Turtle Creek watershed.

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