(October 16, 1998) Officially established in October 1995, the WISE Uranium Project has become an important and widely acknowledged part of the activities of WISE. The WISE Uranium Project was meant to improve cooperation among anti-uranium activists across the world, and to spread the information about this part of the nuclear industry. While nuclear industries in various countries cooperate across the globe, at the highest, anti-uranium activists are unusally organized on the national level, if at all.
(499/500.4930) Peter Diehl -In the early 1980s, WISE used to publish, in parallel with the News Communique, a special uranium communique titled "Keep it in the Ground". After this special communique was discontinued for financial reasons, uranium issues were covered by the regular News Communique.
In the mid-1990s, the Internet became an easy-to-use tool for information exchange, and the idea of a web-based information exchange on uranium issues was born. At the same time, the need for a better information exchange had evolved for a number of reasons:
- Large new uranium mining projects were being proposed in several countries, in particular in Canada, USA, and Australia. Qualified input was needed to participate in the various public involvement procedures in these countries.
- After the end of the Cold War, the uranium industry was in a transition phase, characterized by the shutdown of huge uranium mines, in particular in the US and in Europe, that had become uneconomical under the new market conditions. The problems posed by this legacy of the Cold War were similar in each of the countries concerned, but the resources and knowhow to deal with them, and the standards to be achieved were quite different.
- The need for better cooperation among activists in uranium-producing and uranium-consuming countries evolved, in part also as a consequence of the end of the Cold War era: many countries that used to produce uranium on their own are now importing uranium from a small number of producing countries -taking the values and leaving the wastes in these countries.
The Internet technology, other than conventional newsletters, allows for new forms of publications, for example for reference books that are always up to date. The WISE Uranium Project site widely uses this new capability to provide reference information on the uranium industry worldwide. It takes a considerable workload to keep this reference information up to date. The web-specific capability of linking to information on other web sites is widely used: the site contains about 900 external links.
On its web site, the WISE Uranium Project presents the following information:
- existing and proposed uranium mines and their ownership structure,
- follow-up of current issues concerning uranium mining projects, operating mines and the decommissioning of mines, related legislation and regulations, etc.,
- up-to-date information on the hazards of uranium mining and milling for miners, residents, and the environment, and
- in addition to the main section on uranium mining and milling, the site contains some smaller sections on related topics that are not (or had not been) adequately covered otherwise: some aspects of the uranium enrichment industry, in particular its waste management problem (depleted uranium), and the military uses of depleted uranium and its consequences. Another small section covers the management of the wastes produced by the phosphate industry, since the problems are quite similar to those known from the uranium milling wastes.
This information presented on the site is obtained by follow-up of the scientific literature and conferences, by contributions from activists, and by watching the Internet. The reliance on the latter information source means on the one hand that the information presented is up to date, but on the other hand those parts of the world with good Internet presence are over-represented.
Unfortunately, the value of the WISE Uranium Project web site was first perceived by the uranium industry. Ted Mole of Uranium Institute London wrote in Nuclear Engineering International, in May 1996: "The most ambitious anti-nuclear site is possibly the WISE Uranium Project, whose aim seems to be to give anti-nuclear campaigners all the information they need to attack uranium miners."
But, meanwhile, its value has been acknowledged by activists and all kinds of institutions, and it has become a valuable reference and networking tool. The number of hits per month has increased from 300 at that time to the present 10,000. On the one hand, uranium activists are using the information for their local struggles all over the world, even as they contribute vice-versa to the site. On the other hand, uranium mining companies send their correct address or property information, if they are incorrectly listed on the site; government and professional institutions kindly ask to include links to their web sites; all kinds of institutions include links to the WISE Uranium Project site, often the only anti-nuclear site listed among long lists of industry links (without mentioning this difference...).
In the beginning, the WISE Uranium Project web site was the only non-government and non-industry resource on uranium on the Internet. Meanwhile, a number of other uranium-related sites have been established, in particular in Australia. These sites cover the issues in their countries in more detail, while the WISE Uranium Project maintains a worldwide perspective.