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Recent Saskatchewan mining activities and other developments

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Penna

Under pressure from the Canadian Government there have been some internal changes and administrative reorganization at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). This will mean that new nuclear projects may not have to undergo public scrutiny in environmental assessments (EA). This, coupled with the Canadian Government’s changes in the Federal Environmental Protection Act, will limit or even eliminate environmental assessments, eliminate public participation, and speed up the licensing process.

These changes were made by the Federal Government likely because of pressure by the nuclear industry to shorten the time in obtaining licenses. There was no due process or public input before these changes were made. This does not bode well for effective oversight of the nuclear industry in Canada.

There has been an explosion in uranium exploration in Northern Saskatchewan. However due to the economic slowdown and falling uranium prices there has been a suspension of work at new sites. Areva has stated that it is not economical at the present time to mine these ore bodies. The company has requested authorization to include the ongoing care and maintenance activities at the Midwest Project site, currently authorized under a separate license, under the existing McLean license. Areva is also requesting the revocation of its Uranium Mine Site Preparation License for the Midwest Project.

Although verbal assurance has been given by a CNSC official that once Areva applies to mine the Midwest site this will trigger an EA, it will not be known until it actually happens. A lot will depend on how the new regulations are applied. Also, Areva has recently announced the layoff of 100 workers at the Caribou deposit at its McClean Lake site.

In order for Cameco to pursue its plan to recycle wastes from its Blind River refinery and Port Hope conversion plant to the Key Lake site, CNSC has ordered Cameco to upgrade its milling process to stop or minimize the release of selenium and molybdenum which has caused contamination as far as ten kilometers down stream from the site. These high levels of release coupled with faulty tailings management facilities at Key Lake is also forcing Cameco to recycle the contents and lining of its tailing pits and rebuild them by 2013. These are the tailings management facilities that are supposed to last forever!

A new Saskatchewan Government Industrial Reclamation Act sets out the procedure for old mine sites to be returned to provincial jurisdiction. At the present time a number of smaller uranium mine sites have become the responsibility of the province. However, many mines around Uranium City are still not cleaned up. A study is underway to establish the best approach for dealing with the abandoned Gunnar mines, closed in 1964, which have become the responsibility of the Province of Saskatchewan. Some mitigation measure will likely be taken, however, given the careless manner of mining and the length of time that these sites have been left alone, it will be impossible to make the sites safe. Beaverlodge, which is still being decommissioned by Cameco, is reported to be continually contaminating nearby water bodies and the land with dangerous radioactive materials. According to a CNSC report, radium 226 has been contaminating the environment for 56 years and will continue to do so for the next 100 years! Areva is presently decommissioning the Cluff Lake mining site in preparation for returning the site to provincial jurisdiction.

The right wing Saskatchewan Government has clearly stated its desire to proceed with value added nuclear activities in the province. This includes almost every link of the nuclear chain and perhaps military nuclear research. The Saskatchewan Provincial Government recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with INL (Idaho National Laboratories in the USA) which is engaged in military nuclear research.

A Uranium Development Partnership Panel was appointed by the Saskatchewan Government to make recommendations on value added uranium projects in the province. The twelve-member committee includes the CEO’s of Areva, Cameco, and Bruce Power. Also the so-called environmentalist is none other than Patrick Moore! (See Nuclear Monitor 655: "Moore nuclear spin") They could not find an environmentalist from Saskatchewan that would sit on this stacked panel! This panel was granted three million Canadian dollars to prepare their report.

Bruce Power, partly owned by Cameco, has been aggressively promoting nuclear power plants both in Northern Alberta and in Saskatchewan along the North Saskatchewan River any where from Lloydminster through North Battleford to Prince Albert. Folks living in communities along the river are alarmed and organizing to oppose any such development. Several meetings in Paradise Hill, Shellbrook, and North Battleford attracted over 800 people to hear Dr. Jim Harding, the author of Canada’s Deadly Secret, Saskatchewan uranium and the global nuclear system, 2007. In Paradise Hill a group was formed called S.O.S. - Save Our Saskatchewan. There is a growing movement of grass roots organizations and individuals known as the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan ( to not only oppose nuclear reactors in Saskatchewan but also to oppose any and all so called value added nuclear industries in the province.


Source: Dr. Jim Penna / WISE Uranium Project website
: Dr. Jim Penna, Inter Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (ICUCEC), Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


U-mining ban in British Columbia. Meanwhile, in another Canadian province, the British Columbia government has issued a retroactive cabinet order to ban permits for uranium and thorium exploration and development in the province. On March 13, the B.C. Lieutenant-Governor signed a March 11, cabinet decision giving the Chief Mines Inspector of B.C. the legal authority to not issue exploration and development permits for uranium and thorium in British Columbia.

This new law prevents comes from an Amendment to the Environment & Land Use Act and strengthens the April 2008 B.C. exploration "Reserve" which had a loophole grand fathering one of the most likely uranium deposits to be developed near Kelowna. “Protesting did work for us as the government did not want us rallying at ski resorts etc, especially this year with the Winter Olympics at Vancouver next February!”

Source: e-mail: Peter Chataway, Uranium Free B.C. Coalition