(October 4, 2002) A Canadian church group has won a court case against a uranium tailings dump, forcing work to stop at all uranium mines in northern Saskatchewan connected to the dump. This is anther victory against the French nuclear multinational Cogema, which is the subject of criticism of a new report by the Safe Energy Communication Council.
(574.5445) WISE Amsterdam - The Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Cooperative won its court case against the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB - now called the Nuclear Safety Commission) and Cogema Resources.
Federal court Judge Campbell ruled that a Judicial Review was necessary for the AECB decision to grant an operating license for the JEB Uranium Tailings Facility without a full environmental assessment.
The decision means that as of 24 September 2002, the operating license for the JEB nuclear waste facility has been quashed. In effect, all uranium mine operations in northern Saskatchewan connected to the JEB pit will have to cease, as there is nowhere to put their waste. This includes the McClean Lake and Cigar Lake mines.
Cogema Resources - part of the French nuclear multinational Cogema - is taking immediate steps to request the Federal Court of Appeal to have the decision to quash the license stayed while an appeal is heard.
Cogema under fire
Cogema's environmental and safety record is the subject of The COGEMA File, a new report from the Safe Energy Communication Council.
The COGEMA File is a compilation of known environmental, health and safety violations by Cogema from 16 different instances, including three that were described in an earlier joint report, COGEMA: Above the Law? and released by SECC and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in May 2002.
COGEMA Inc. is set to process surplus weapons plutonium into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina (see "U.S. utility gets green light for weapons work" in this WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor). Yet the NRC has publicly stated that Cogema's record "good, bad or indifferent" will not affect the agency's decision-making in regard to COGEMA Inc.'s work in the U.S.
"The incidents we researched consistently demonstrated Cogema's cover-ups, corporate secrecy, disregard for international law, illegal importing and dumping, contamination, leaks, toxic discharges, and cavalier approach to issues of human health," said Linda Gunter, SECC's communications director who researched and authored the new items in the report.
The report covers incidents at Cogema's reprocessing plant at La Hague, France, which is notorious for releasing a cocktail of toxic and radiological chemicals into the surrounding air and water. It also includes details of leaks, spills and fines at Cogema's North American uranium mining operations.
Scott Denman, SECC's Executive Director, commented: "This is not the kind of company the American public want to invite into their back yard, particularly to handle something as lethal and toxic as weapons plutonium."
The report can be accessed on SECC's web site at www.safeenergy.org. Hard copies can be ordered directly from SECC.
- WISE Uranium
- SECC press release, 1 October 2002