In response to the letter published in the Nation (Vol. 17, No. 16; June 18, 2010), authored by Élaine Hébert, spokesperson for the Mich Cini Coalition, we would like to re-establish certain facts whose inaccuracy is misleading the public about the safety of the nuclear industry.
Similarly to Mrs Hébert, we also believe that local populations must be informed of the issues related to uranium exploration and mining. This is why Strateco has been favouring openness and transparency since the beginning of the Matoush Project in 2006.
In this regard, here is actual and verifiable scientific information that has been disclosed by the various advertising campaigns, information sessions, interviews and meetings held throughout the last few years:
• “Studies demonstrate that present-day uranium workers, and the public living near a uranium mine or mill, are as healthy as the general Canadian population.” (CNSC, December 2009)
• “Studies have shown that uranium mining and milling activities do not increase radon levels above background levels in the environment away from the mine site.” (CNSC, December 2009)
• “There have been several scientific studies on the environment that studied the impacts of uranium mining on the air, water, plants, fish and animals near mining facilities. These studies have shown that levels of radionuclides were no different around operating mine sites compared to nearby or remote reference sites.” (CNSC, December 2009)
• “Management of waste rock and tailings from uranium mining activities are two aspects of the industry that have considerably evolved to minimize risks to the environment.” (CNSC, December 2009)
• For uranium projects, a rehabilitation plan accompanied by a financial guarantee that covers 100% of rehabilitation costs is required at each project stage.
• In order for a project to proceed, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) must be convinced that it will not cause any important damage to the environment.
• The development and application of health and safety programs are obligatory and are strictly controlled and monitored by the CNSC and the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST).
• Canada is one of the 189 countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This treaty prohibits the export of uranium, nuclear components and technologies that could be used to make nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, Strateco has shared and disclosed the Matoush Project data related to exploration works, environmental protection, health and safety:
• Strateco conducted an environmental impact study for the underground exploration phase of the Matoush Project, which concluded that there would not be any irreversible impact on the environment. In fact, the impact on the water, air, plants and wildlife is negligible.
• There is very little if any potential for adverse effects on fish, plankton or aquatic plants. In other words, the Matoush project activities do not present any threat to aquatic species or water quality.
• For each new stage of the project, Strateco must update its rehabilitation plan and have it approved by the CNSC. This ensures that closure, decommissioning and environmental monitoring activities at the Matoush project will be carried out in accordance with the applicable standards.
Protecting the environment and the health of workers and populations is not only an obligation for Strateco, but also a duty and a priority. Strateco sees to the respect of the extremely strict environmental, health and safety standards.
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA)
Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP)
Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail du Québec (CSST)