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Canada: James Bay Cree Nation enacts uranium ban

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#754
4270
31/08/2012
Grant Council of the Crees
Article

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Cree Nation state they are “determined to protect our way of life against the unique and grave threat posed by uranium mining and waste, today and for thousands of years to come”.

The James Bay Cree Nation has declared a Permanent Moratorium on uranium exploration, uranium mining and uranium waste emplacement in Eeyou Istchee, the James Bay Cree territory. The permanent moratorium was enacted unanimously by the Annual Cree Nation General Assembly in Was-kaganish on August 8.
“The risks inherent in uranium explo-ration, mining, milling, refining and transport, and in radioactive and toxic uranium mining waste, are incompatible with our stewardship responsibilities in Eeyou Istchee,” the Resolution declares.

“The Cree Nation is determined to protect our economies and way of life against the unique and grave threat posed by uranium mining and uranium waste, today and for thousands of years to come,” said Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come. “We are not opposed to sustainable and equitable mining and other industrial and resource development activities in Eeyou Istchee – but the toxic and radiation risks created by uranium mining and uranium waste are unique in scale and duration.”

“Uranium moratoriums have been enacted by the governments of British Columbia and Nova Scotia, as well as other foreign jurisdictions, without affecting other mining and resource development activities,” Grand Chief Coon Come told the Cree Assembly. “We anticipate that all Québécoises and Québécois, once they know the facts, will join us in this minimal stand of prudent stewardship.”

Recent global increases in uranium prices have spurred significant uranium exploration activities in Eeyou Istchee. The most advanced uranium project to date in Eeyou Istchee is at the Matoush uranium ore body site near the Cree community of Mistissini. Strateco Resources Inc. has requested regulatory approval to conduct an advanced exploration project at Matoush, with the stated intention of determining the feasibility of a uranium mine and mill at this site.

“The Crees of Mistissini have declared our strong opposition to uranium mining in Eeyou Istchee,” said Chief Richard Shecapio, Chief of the Cree Nation of Mistissini. “We never doubted that the Cree Nation as a whole would stand with us in unity and strength.”

The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) is the political body that represents the Eeyouch, the James Bay Cree people.

Source: news release; 9 August  2012 available at: www.gcc.ca/newsarticle. php?id=281
Contact: Grand Chief, Mathew Coon Come, Office of the Grand Chief / Chairman, 2 Lakeshore Road, Nemaska, QC J0Y 3B0, Canada
Tel: +1 819 673-2600
Email: eagrandchief[at]gcc.ca

Hapana Kwa Madini Ya Uranium

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#752
4253
13/07/2012
WISE Amsterdam
Article

('No to uranium mining' in Swahili) On July 2, at a meeting in St Petersburg in the Russian Federation, the Unesco World Heritage Committee unanimously approved Tanzania’s request to allow uranium mining in the Selous game reserve. The reserve was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982 and is one of the largest remaining wildernesses in Africa.

After months of intense lobbying by nuclear industry and government the July 2, de-cision comes as a great relief to the go-vernment, whose plan to alter the boun-daries of Selous met strong opposition from environmentalists on the grounds that mining in the World Heritage Site would have disastrous consequences. They argued that mining of uranium had caused devastating environmental and health damage wherever it had been done.

But, at the meeting in St Petersburg from June 24 to 6 July 2012, the com-mittee unanimously approved Tanza-nia’s request to modify the boundary of the game reserve. The decision means that some 19,793 hectares (nearly 200 square kilometers) to the south of the Selous, where uranium deposits are found, will also excluded. Tanzania ap-plied for permission to alter the bounda-ries of Selous in January 2011, arguing that extracting uranium in the area was critical for funding development pro-grams and driving the economy. 

The Selous was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature. Within the reserve no permanent human habitation or permanent struc-tures are permitted. All entries and exits are carefully controlled by the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Natural Re-sources and Tourism. The five million-hectare game reserve is home to the largest population of elephants on the continent and also has large numbers of black rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles -along with grasslands and miombo forests. Its diverse lands-cape retains undisturbed biological and ecological processes. 

The project will be carried out by an Australian uranium mining firm called Mantra Resources at a cost of US$400million. Some environmentalists and politicians, including a handful of MPs, have consistently voiced strong criticism to the mining plan. They main-tain that the project will have devasta-ting consequences on the economic and social fronts and deal a major blow to the ecology.

According to IUCN more than a quarter of natural World Heritage sites are under pressure by existing or future mineral extraction. For this reason, IUCN is calling on the private sector, state-run companies and governments them-selves to adopt and enforce the “no go” principle, meaning that no mining and/or mineral and oil exploration and production can be carried out in World Heritage sites. 

Sources: The Citizen (Tanzania), 3 July 2012 /  Tanzania Daily News, 5 July 2012 / UICN website, visited 10 July 2012.

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Uranium mining

Uranium, a natural resource which is used for nuclear energy production, is extracted from the earth in uranium mines located in various countries worldwide. The website of the wise uranium project provides the best regular updates on developments and background information on all uranium-mining related issues.

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#750
01/06/2012
Shorts

Israel: first permit for uranium exploration.
Israel’s Energy and Water Ministry on April 3 granted Gulliver Energy the first ever uranium exploration permit. The Israeli oil and gas exploration company is headed by former Mossad intelligence agency director Meir Dagan. In a statement dated April 3, Gulliver said the permit is for a year and covers 1,200 acres in Israel’s northern Negev Desert region near the town of Arad. The area to be explored extends to the Dead Sea. Gulliver requested the permit after radioactive material was discovered at shallow depths of less than 100 meters during oil exploration testing last year. A feasibility study conducted in the past year concluded there was a high probability of finding uranium there. Initial tests were conducted to a shallow depth but further tests at various depths are planned in order to assess the prospects for finding uranium.

Arad Mayor Tali Peloskov said the town will not allow any mining in the area. He has requested a meeting with Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman on the matter in order to assess the health risk of mining in the area. Local residents who are opposed to mining operations have also set up a lobby to oppose efforts to mine for uranium as well as phosphates near the town. The land involved is near large phosphate reserves. Israel conducted a national uranium survey in the late 1980s, and the region near Arad was found to have potential for uranium. In the past Israel attempted to extract uranium from phosphates. The Weizmann Institute of Science, a multidisciplinary research institute in Rehovot, Israel, developed a technique that was costly and the project was dropped. Neither the company nor the ministry has said whether the uranium would be used in Israel or exported.
NuclearFuel, 16 April 2012


Myanmar: no longer pursuing nuclear program.
Myanmarese President Thein Sein said on May 14, the country had given up its plan to develop nuclear programs in cooperation with Russia in the mid-2000s. Sein told visiting Korean President Lee Myung-bak that Russia offered to build two 10 megawatt nuclear reactors for civilian, not military, use. But the country’s military junta did not pushed the project due to its inability to manage it, he was quoted as saying by Lee’s security aide Kim Tae-hyo. In 2007, Russia's atomic energy agency and Myanmar signed a deal to build nuclear research reactor. Reports said the reactors would use low enriched uranium consisting of less than 20 percent uranium-235. The plans to buy a nuclear reactor from Russia have been in the pipeline for years, and were met with suspicion. (See for instance Nuclear Monitor 657, 21 June 2007: Myanmar: a new Iran in the making?)
Asia News Network (The Korea Herald), 15 May 2012


Brazil shelves plans to build new nuclear plants.
Brazil announced on May 9, it has abandoned plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan. The previous government led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to construct between four and eight new nuclear plants through 2030. But the energy ministry's executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann, was quoted as telling a forum May 8, that there was no need for new nuclear facilities for the next 10 years. "The last plan, which runs through 2020, does not envisage any (new) nuclear power station because there is no need for it. Demand is met with hydro-electrical power and complementary energy sources such as wind, thermal and natural gas."

Brazil has two PWR in operation. The Angra I was the first Brazilian nuclear reactor, which has been hampered by problems with corrosion in the steam generators due to a metal alloy used by westinghouse, which forced the recent replacement of both steam generators.

The Angra II reactor was completed after more than 20 years of construction, as costs soared from initial estimates of 500USD/kW in 1975 to over 4000USD/kw.
The total cost of Angra III, whose completion has been delayed for years, will be around 10 billion Brazilian reais (US$5.9 billion, 4.7bn euro).
AFP, 9 May 2012 / www.enformable.com, 9 May 2012


Used parts sold for new in South Korea.
On May 11, a South Korean businessman has been jailed for three years for supplying potentially defective parts to the country's oldest atomic power plant Gori, near Busan. The man, identified only as Hwang, was sentenced for selling recycled turbine valve parts. He cleaned and painted used parts stolen from the plant's dump by an employee. He then sold them back to the plant, on three occasions since 2008, disguising them as new products. Hwang pocketed some three billion won (US$2.6 million) through the fraud, according to the court. The plant employee who stole the scrapped parts was sentenced to three years in prison in April.
There have been previous scandals over potentially defective parts in nuclear power plants. In April the nuclear safety watchdog launched an investigation at Gori and another plant, after they were found to be using components developed by a local company but based on illegally obtained French technology. The Gori-1 Reactor at the plant was also at the centre of a scare in February when it briefly lost power and the emergency generator failed to kick in. Several officials and engineers have been punished for covering up the incident.
AFP, 16 may 2012


Nigeria proposes two reactor sites. In the category ‘uhh, sorry?’ the following:
Nigeria’s Kogi and Akwa Ibom states are being put forward as proposed areas for nuclear reactors, pending approval of the federal executive council, the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) has said. Chairman of the commission, Dr Erepamo Osaisai, said it would submit the two locations for the siting of nuclear power reactors in the country soon to the Presidency. Dr Osaisai made the disclosure in a lecture to the fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering in Sheda, Abuja. He said the preliminary sites' survey and evaluation project investigated a number of technical, environmental, security, social and economic issues. The two locations are within Geregu and Ajaokuta local governments in Kogi State and Itu Local Government in Akwa Ibom.

Nigeria is planning to generate 1000 MW of electricity through nuclear energy by 2020 and gradually increase it to 4000 MW by 2030. Osaisai expects that NAEC will apply for the licensing of the approved sites by the end of 2013. He said a draft law for the implementation of the national nuclear power program has been developed and has been subjected to detailed scrutiny by all major stakeholders with technical input of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to the news report.
The Nigerian Voice, 28 May 2012 / Nuclear Energy Insider, Policy & Commission Brief 24 – 30 May 2012


Tanzania: uranium mining threat to World Heritage site.
The Unesco World Heritage Committee (UWHC) will break the deadlock in June when it will decide whether or not to allow mining of uranium in Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in Africa, harboring the largest elephant population on the continent. The Mkuju River Uranium Project is planned by Russian ARMZ, a subsidiary of Rosatom and Canada-based UraniumOne. A decision on whether to change the boundary of the World Heritage site Selous Game Reserve and thus 'pave the way' for uranium mining - or not, will be made by the World Heritage Committee at its June 2012 session in St. Peterburg, Russia.

According to deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, any move by the committee to halt uranium extraction would be a big blow to Tanzania which has been insisting that its extraction is critical to funding the country’s development programs and driving its economy. Some international as well as local environmentalists and politicians, including a handful of MPs, have strongly opposed the mining plans. They have maintained that the mining project would have a devastating impact on the economic and social fronts, and would deal a major blow to the ecology of the region. However, Tanzania went ahead and applied to the Unesco World Heritage Committee for permission to mine uranium at the 5-million hectare game reserve in the south of Tanzania.
The Citizen (Tanzania), 18 May 2012

Areva in Africa; the hidden face of French nuclear power

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#750
4244
01/06/2012
Juliette Poirson
Article

The reality of French nuclear colonialism on the African continent is described in depth by Raphael Granvaud’s book Areva en Afrique, published in French earlier in 2012. Granvaud details the conditions under which France and Areva procure uranium at the lowest price, at the cost of political interference and environmental, health and social disaster for local people. It dispels the myth of French energy independence through nuclear power, since the uranium fueling civil and military nuclear power comes in large part from Africa.

In recent weeks, Areva’s practices in Africa were in the headlines several times, and Areva worries about this growing criticism.On April 25, 2012, employees working at Imouraren uranium mine in Niger (which could become the biggest in Africa when it should open in 2014), went on strike to protest against their working conditions. The information was published not only in local media, but also international media, which is quite new! On May 11, a French Court for social affairs condemned Areva for an "inexcusable mistake" in regard to the death from lung cancer of a French former employee who worked seven years for Cominak, one of the two subsidiaries of Areva in Arlit, Niger. This victory gives hope for African victims of uranium. These two affairs are only a visible part of how Cogema, since 2001 called Areva, worked and is still working in Africa. The reality is described in depth by Raphael Granvaud’s book Areva en Afrique, published in French in 2012 by Editor Agone. He reveals that since the 1950’s Areva mines African ore at the lowest cost and with no care for the environment, the workers and the communities.

'Françafrique'
The great development of French civilian and military nuclear power have been possible thanks to the exploitation of the soil of French African colonies (as in Madagascar from 1954) and then of African independent countries (in particular in Gabon and Niger). Even before the closure of the last uranium mine on French soil in 2001, the fuel for French nuclear plants was largely imported. So, the "French energy independence" was always only a myth spread by the French state.

The author shows that for more than 40 years, Cogema’s African subsidiaries were able to exploit uranium at low prices thanks to Françafrique and the support of dictatorial regimes sympathetic to French interests. ‘Françafrique’ is a system of domination developed by France over its former colonies in Africa in order to keep control of raw materials and strengthen its geostrategic and economic position. For instance, in 1974, when Nigerien President Diori attempted to demand higher uranium prices, he was ousted by a military coup, perpetrated under the watchful eyes of French authorities. Today the collusion between politics and interests of the French nuclear industry keeps going on. In 2009, French President Sarkozy supported Nigerien President Tandja, who sought to extend his term unconstitutionally, in exchange for which he obtained for Areva the contract of Imouraren mine. Similarly, he negotiated in trouble circumstances a memo between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Areva, enabling the company to explore the whole subsoil of Congo, representing an area the size of Europe.  

The environmental, health and social scandal
The book points out that African people did not get any positive impact of uranium mining, and that conversely, they were sentenced to all its negative consequences. The disaster in terms of health, social and ecological aspects is immense.
In the case of Arlit, Niger, the uranium exploitation since 1967 resulted in agro-pastoral land-grabbing around the two mine sites, destruction of fauna and flora, air contamination by dust and radioactive gases, radioactive contamination of water or short-term irreversible exhaustion of the two aquifers - one is already dried up to 2/3 and the other will be irreversibly dried up within 40 years.  
In the case of Gabon, the uranium mines closed in 1999 but the terrible consequences still continue despite a huge redevelopment program largely paid by the European Development Fund and not by Areva itself! Some areas are heavily polluted, as well as the river flowing nearby.
Areva’s stranglehold on local health facilities enabled a conspiracy of silence on occupational diseases. In forty years of operation in Arlit, Niger, Areva has not recognized any occupational disease!

Mobilization of civil society
In short, African debt of Areva is huge, but this doesn’t arouse much interest among authorities nor international institutions. Until now, mostly civil society organizations do care. The book recalls how local organizations first revealed the scandal of uranium mining in Africa, despite Areva’s ostracism.
As a consequence, Areva had to make some concessions, notably regarding the security of the workers, but generally refuses to take responsibility and continues to green wash its activities. 'Health observatories' were set up in Gabon in 2010 and in Niger in 2011. They are supposed to enable individual compensation for the (ex)-workers, who can prove that their illness is related to their work in the mines. After an initial phase of observation, NGOs that are part of these bodies are now denouncing the lack of independence of the Observatories. In the case of OSRA (“health observatory of the Agadez region”, Niger), they criticize the fact that Areva offers allowance for attendance, seen as a mean to buy their silence.

There is still a lot to do in terms of information, legal and policy work, in order to improve the lives of local people, reduce environmental risks, obtain a fair distribution of income lead to uranium, as well as to avoid new mines. Hard work is being led by Earthlife in Namibia; Brainforest in Gabon; the CED in Cameroon and in Central African Republic; ROTAB, Gren, Arlit’s coordination of civil society, Arlit’s civil society synergy in Niger; and many others.

More information on Areva in Africa (in English): http://survie.org/publications/4-pages/article/nouvelle-traduction-4-pages-areva

Source and contact: Juliette Poirson, Danyel Dubreuil, members of the French NGO ‘Survie’, which campaigns for the abolition of neo-colonial ties between France and its former colonies.
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://survie.org

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#743
05/03/2012
Shorts

Dounreay: 'significant' hot particle found on beach.
Experts have discovered the most significant radioactive particle yet on a public beach two miles (approximately 3km) west of the redundant nuclear site of Dounreay, Scotland, UK. Dounreay clean-up contractor DSRL has informed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency of additional tests being carried out on a particle recovered during routine monitoring of a beach near the redundant nuclear site. The particle was detected at the water's edge at Sandside. The beach at Sandside is located. The particle - detected on February 14 - was the 208th to be recovered from the beach at Sandside in the last 15 years.

Provisional checks carried out on the beach indicated the particle had a higher than normal beta dose rate. A spokesman for DSRL said it was the first time a particle classed as significant - the highest classification in terms of radioactivity - had been found on the beach, although many had been found on the seabed and foreshore at Dounreay as well as on the site itself. Any particle with radioactivity above one million Becquerel (Bq) units is classed as significant.

Work is due to resume in May to clear particles from the seabed near the site. More than 1800 have been recovered so far from the seabed where there is evidence of a "plume" from historic effluent discharges dating back 50 years. Particles are fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel.
Dounreay Site restoration Ltd, website, February 20, 2012 / The Herald, Scotland,  21 February 2012


Defend democracy; Unite to shut Vermont Yankee down!
In 2010, the citizens and legislature of the State of Vermont, with support from their neighbors in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, decided to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor permanently by March 21, 2012, when VY's 40-year license expires. In 2011, Entergy, the New Orleans mega-corporation that owns Vermont Yankee, sued the State of Vermont, defying the democratic will of the people, to keep their aged, accident-plagued reactor running for 20 more years. On January 19, 2012, federal district court judge J. Garvin Murtha sided with Entergy against the State of Vermont and the people of New England. On February 18, the State of Vermont appealed Murtha's ruling. With the future of VY still hanging in the balance, nonviolent citizen action is more important than ever.

Let us make clear: We will NOT allow unbridled corporate power to deprive us of our inalienable right to live in safety on our homes, and to determine our own energy future – a future that is safe and green for our children and our children's children. Many events have taken place and will take place to shut Vermont Yankee down. The most important one is 'Occupy Entergy HQ' on March 22. There will be a brief rally at the Brattleboro, VT Commons starting at 11:00am, then a walk to Entergy Headquarters on Old Ferry Rd. in Brattleboro (3.5 miles) where there be a direct action, likely to include civil disobedience.
More information at: http://sagealliance.net/home


Franco-British nuclear cooperation agreement.
On February 16, UK Prime Minister Cameron met his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris at a joint summit for the first time since their bitter clashes over Europe. The joint declaration on energy made contained a range of goals, the greatest of them being to encourage "the emergence of a Franco-British industry that is highly competitive across the whole supply chain at the international level." Most prominent in this will be the work of France's majority state-owned firms EDF and Areva and their cooperation with privately held UK firms for the construction of new reactors in Britain.

The agreement to co-operate on developing civil nuclear energy is meant to pave the way for the construction of new nuclear power plants. It was accompanied by the news of a deal between Rolls-Royce and French nuclear reactor developer Areva. Areva has asked Rolls to make complex components and provide engineering and technical services for two reactors to be built at Hinkley Point, Somerset.

But not everybody is confident that the agreement will bring much for Britian's industry. According to Tim Fox, head of energy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers "Although some relatively small contracts are to be awarded to Rolls-Royce and BAM Kier, it looks increasingly likely that the vast majority of the contracts involved in the manufacture and construction of the new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell will go to France rather than the UK." Friends of the Earth's Energy Campaigner Paul Steedman said: "Cameron's deal today will leave British taxpayers footing a massive bill for new nuclear plants we don't need and can't afford - while EDF continues to rake in huge profits."
World Nuclear News 17 February 2012 / FOE Press release,  17 February 2012 / The Manufacturer, 17 February 2012


Meanwhile at Hinkley Point ….
From Febr. 12 on, following an occupation of trees a week earlier, activists are occupying a farmhouse close to Hinkley Point, to stop EDF Energy trashing land for the planned new nuclear power station. Anti-nuclear campaigners have been joined by members of Seize the Day as the first residents of Edf-Off Cottage which is on the 400-acre site earmarked for two new reactors.

At the High Court on February 27, EDF Energy failed in their bid to impose an injunction to stop an alliance of anti-nuclear groups from protesting on the 400-acre site set aside for two new mega-reactors at Hinkley Point. This injunction was being sought to remove these campaigners, but it was simultaneously designed to restrict future demonstrations. The Orwellian language even prohibits campaigning groups from 'encouraging other persons' to protest at the site. Speaking on behalf of the Stop New Nuclear alliance, Kate Hudson from CND stated "It should be inconceivable that private companies could restrict basic civil liberties in this way. They are not the arbiters of the nuclear debate, nor the guarantors of our freedoms. We will fight to ensure the rights of future generations to peaceful protest and to preserve essential democratic principles."

On 10 and  11 March, one year since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, antinuclear groups call for a human chain/blockade around the station to show "our determined opposition to new nuclear".
www.stopnewnuclear.org.uk


Spain: OK for 41-year old Garona life extension. Spain's nuclear security agency CSN has determined that the country's oldest nuclear reactor, the 468 MW Santa Maria de Garona nuclear power plant, is safe to operate until 2019, in response to a request by the industry minister to review the installation. The approval, disclosed on February 17, clears the way for the recently installed Spanish conservative government to overturn the previous socialist government's 2009 order to have the generator closed in 2013. Although the CSN said there was "no safety or security issue that should impede continued operation of the power plant", the agency added that it would still have to review any formal application by the operator to extend the installation's license, including scrutiny of its latest operating data and future security measures being considered. Garona was first connected to the grid in March 1971!
The CSN in 2009 had given authorization for the station to operate for another 10 years, but the government at the time opted instead for an earlier expiration date. Since then, new regulations have been put in place, particularly following the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant early last year.
Platts, 20 February 2012


World oldest reactor (44 years) closed. The world's oldest operating nuclear power reactor – Unit 1 of the Oldbury nuclear power plant in the UK - has been closed after 44 years of power generation on 29 February 2012. Unit 2 was shut down in June 2011, while unit 1 was expected to continue operating until the end of this year. Plant operator Magnox Ltd announced last October that it had decided to end operations ten months early as it was "no longer economically viable."
World Nuclear News, 29 February 2012


Beznau now oldest in world; call for closure.
After Oldbury's closure, Switzerland's Beznau nuclear plant holds the dubious record of being the oldest nuclear plant in the world and should be shut down, a group of environmental organizations said on February 23. Switzerland is phasing out nuclear energy but not fast enough, say the groups. They list a number of problems and point out that the company that runs it is planning to increase the earmarked CHF500 million (US$ 557m or 415m euro) to make it safe, money they believe could be better spent shutting it down and moving to safer energy sources.
Genevalunch.com, 23 February 2012


U.S.: Fourth Legislative Attack on Grand Canyon Uranium Ban Fails… The fourth legislative attempt to block the Obama administration's ban on new uranium development across 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park died February 14, when the House rules committee ruled it out of order. The amendment was sponsored by the same three Republican congressmen who sponsored three previous failed anti-Grand Canyon legislative proposals - Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and Paul Gosar, all from Arizona. The most recent amendment sought to overturn a January decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar enacting a 20-year 'mineral withdrawal' that bans new mining claims and development on existing claims lacking rights-to-mine across Grand Canyon's million-acre watershed (see Nuclear Monitor 740, 13 January 2012, In Briefs).

In 2010 and again in 2011, Flake, Franks and Gosar sponsored legislation that would have prohibited the Interior Department from enacting the mining ban; in 2011 they attempted to add a rider to a budget bill - their third failed attempt prior to this most recent amendment.

Over the past few years, nearly 400,000 people from 90 countries wrote the Department of the Interior urging it to ban new uranium mining around the canyon after a uranium boom threatened to bring a new wave of destructive mining threatening recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat and waters in Grand Canyon National Park. The mining ban has won wide support among American Indian tribes, regional businesses, elected officials, hunting and angling groups, scientists and conservationists.
Press release Centre for Biological Diversity, 16 February 2012


….but next attack imminent. The withdrawal of lands in northern Arizona from mining activities is unconstitutional, unlawful and violates the National Environmental Policy Act, said organisations representing the US mining and nuclear industries in a lawsuit against US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The suit has been filed with the US Federal District Court in Arizona by the National Mining Association (NMA) and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the US nuclear energy industry's organization. The Department of the Interior (DoI), US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service and US Department of Agriculture are named as co-defendants alongside Salazar, in his capacity as Interior Secretary.

The NEI and NMA argue that Salazar does not have the legal authority to make withdrawals of public lands in excess of 5000 acres, citing a landmark 1983 Supreme Court ruling that such withdrawals would be unconstitutional. Furthermore, they claim, the decision to withdraw the land is "arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law." Finally, the environmental impact statement (EIS) and record of decision on the withdrawal violate the terms of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in failing to take a "hard look" at the economic and environmental consequences of the withdrawal.
World Nuclear News, 28 February 2012


Finland: Uranium mine granted permission.
The Finnish Talvivaara mine today gained permission to extract uranium and process it into uranium oxide. The UO4 would be transported away by rail and ships, possibly to Russia. The mine was opened a few years ago mainly as a zinc mine. It's using an experimental biosoaking process to extract small amounts of minerals from the ore. The company has been crippled by scandals from the beginning, with sulphuric acid and other chemicals continuously spilling all over nearby woods and lakes. The company has failed to make any profit so far and its CEO was forced to quit last year.

In a strange technocratic turn of events, the environmental authorities concluded that instead of closing down the mine, it would be beneficial to grant the mine a permission to separate the uranium from the rest of the waste so that the further spills bound to happen at least wouldn't contain radioactive materials. As a last minute effort, environmentalists tried to convince the government to at least demand a description of the separation process so as to ensure this doesn't just produce a lot more radioactive/toxic sludge. The government decided not to do so and instead just granted the permission "because it brings 40 million euros worth of investment to the area".

The local municipality and just about every major business in the area was opposed to the permission after the previous scandals and their trade being spoiled by the smelly pollution in the environment.
Jehki Harkonen, energy campaigner Greenpeace Nordic, Helsinki, 1 March 2012


Rosatom-owned company accused of selling shoddy equipment to reactors.
Russian Federal Prosecutors have accused a company owned by the country’s nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, with massive corruption and manufacturing substandard equipment for nuclear reactors under construction both at home and abroad.  The ZiO-Podolsk machine building plant’s procurement director, Sergei Shutov, has been arrested for buying low quality raw materials on the cheap and pocketing the difference as the result of an investigation by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor organization to the KGB. It is not clear how many reactors have been impacted by the alleged crime, but reactors built by Russia in India, Bulgaria, Iran, China as well as several reactor construction and repair projects in Russia itself may have been affected by cheap equipment, given the time frame of works completed at the stations and the scope of the investigation as it has been revealed by authorities.
Bellona, 28 February 2012

Uranium mining and water

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#743
6236
05/03/2012
Article

For Australia especially, global warming means water shortage -drought over wide areas, more evaporation. Uranium mining is water intensive. Already outback communities in Australia are being hit by water shortage, as water is being extracted from the Great Arterial Basin faster than it is being replenished.

Water use in a typical uranium mine is approximately 200 to 300 gallons per minute. In water-short Australia, BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine has been for years taking 35 million litres of water each day from the underground aquifer, at no cost whatever. When BHP digs its new biggest hole in the world, it will pay a small fixed price for removing even greater amounts, exceeding 42 million litres.

BHP Billiton Olympic Dam mine expansion in South Australia has received a go ahead on 10 October 2011. This will create the world's largest open pit mine, over 1km deep, 4.5km long and 3km wide. Olympic Dam already consumes an inordinate amount of ground water extracted from the Great Artesian Basin every day - for free. The mine expansion will entail BHP Billiton expanding groundwater extraction and building a desalination plant at Point Lowly which will impact the only known breeding ground of the giant Australian cuttlefish, prawn fisheries and the sensitive marine environment.

BHP Billiton proposes to increase its water consumption by an additional 200 million litres per day. Water intake from the Great Artesian Basin will increase from 35 million litres per day to up to  42 million litres per day, with the remainder to come from the proposed coastal desalination plant at Point Lowly. That’s over 100,000 litres every minute – in the driest state on the driest continent on earth. The water intake from the Great Artesian Basin has already had adverse impacts on the unique Mound Springs found near Lake Eyre, which are fed by the underlying Artesian Basin, and are sacred to the Arabunna people, the traditional owners of the area. Under the Indenture Act, BHP Billiton pays nothing for its massive water intake for the Olympic Dam mine, despite recording a total net profit of US$23. 95 billion in 2011, nearly double its 2010 figure of US$13.01 billion.

Out of sight, out of mind
Groundwater is a major resource, but one that has been taken for granted for decades. In the past, groundwater supplies were treated as an infinite resource, and subject to an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude. But that’s changing. There’s now an enormous interest in the way our groundwater resources are measured, managed and utilised. There are also concerns over issues such as over-extraction of water, pollution, wastage, allocation and licensing issues, water pricing and groundwater salinisation.

The most well-known and important groundwater source in Australia is the Great Artesian Basin, or GAB. This is a vast groundwater source that underlies 22 per cent of Australia – extending beneath the arid and semi-arid regions of Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales. It covers about 1.7 million square kilometres, and contains an estimated 8700 million megalitres (1 megaliter = 1 million liters) of water. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the largest artesian water basins in the world……

The sustainable yield of a groundwater source depends on balancing the use or discharge against recharge rates. Normally discharge of groundwater occurs through vegetation, into streams and lakes, or through evaporation into the atmosphere. Sustainable yield cannot simply be determined by a measure of the recharge rate. If water is extracted for human use at the recharge rate, discharge to other areas can be affected…..

Extraction of groundwater can also lead to salinity problems and have a negative impact on native vegetation with roots that tap into groundwater, as well as wetlands, rivers and streams. The full impact of using these aquifers as planned is not known, but is likely to reduce the rate of water flowing to support rivers and wetlands and other groundwater dependent ecosystems.

Water from the Great Artesian Basin in Central Australia is being depleted to keep residual radioactive dust from uranium mining wet in order to keep it from blowing across the continent. Seven million gallons of water is being extracted from the basin per day to keep the radioactive dust in place, according to Kerrieann Garlick, a member of Footprints for Peace from Perth, Australia.

Despite its profits more than tripling in the last three years, BHP has never paid a cent for the vast amounts of water used by the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine near Roxby Downs. Under the Roxby Downs Indenture Act BHP is not required to pay for this water usage. The Indenture Act applies specifically to the Olympic Dam mine, and provides for wide-ranging legal exemptions and overrides from environmental and Aboriginal heritage protection laws that apply elsewhere in the state, including the Environmental Protection Act and the Natural Resources Act (which incorporates water management issues).

“The Indenture Act means that the Olympic Dam mine is not subject to the same environmental regulatory framework as other industrial projects in the state,’ explained Nectaria Calan of Friends of the Earth Adelaide. “Additionally, by allowing BHP to take water from the Great Artesian Basin for free, the South Australian government is essentially providing BHP with a massive subsidy,” she continued.

The water intake from the Great Artesian Basin has already had adverse impacts on the unique Mound Springs found near Lake Eyre, which are fed by the underlying Artesian Basin, and are sacred to the Arabunna people, the traditional owners of the area.

As time goes by,  it is growing harder for the nuclear industry to hide the toxic effects and legacy of uranium mining. But, uranium mining still disproportionately affects people who can be marginalized in some way by governments. The case against uranium mining is not only a public health and environmental issue, it is also a human rights issue.

Sources: Indymedia Australia, 12 October 2011 / www.antinuclear.net
Contact: Australian Conservation Foundation, First Floor 60 Leicester St Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
Tel:  +61 3 9345 1111
Email: afc[at]afconline.org.au
Web: www.afconline.org.au

About: 
WISE

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#740
13/01/2012
Article

India: nuclear lobbyist heads national solar company.
India's prime minister has appointed Anil Kakodkar, former head of the Atomic Energy Commission to be in charge of the national solar mission. The Solar Energy Corporation of India was recently set up as a not-for-profit company and will work under the administrative control of the New and Renewable Energy Ministry (NREM).  The move to appoint Kakodkar will likely create somewhat of a controversy, as India Today points out, calling the decision "a bizarre move that smacks of unfair public policymaking," and a "clear case of conflict of interest." His appointment as head of the solar mission is bound to upset anti-nuclear activists in the country who want the government to actively promote alternatives such as solar and wind while giving up investments in nuclear energy.

Ignoring this contribution of renewable sources of energy, Kakodkar has constantly projected nuclear energy as the "inevitable and indispensable option" that addresses both sustainability as well as climate change issues. But despite huge investments during the past half a century, nuclear power contributes just a fraction of India's energy needs. The total installed capacity of nuclear power in the country is 4,780 MW, while the total installed capacity of renewable sources of energy is 20,162 MW, according to data collected by the Central Electricity Authority.

In his new role, Kakodkar will be responsible for turning around the fortunes of the government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The Solar Energy Corporation of India has been created to act as its executing arm. Although still in its infancy, its organization has already come under fire from both developers and politicians. In the first days of 2012 the findings of a Parliamentary panel were released, labeling the Ministry’s approach to the national solar mission as “disappointing” and “lackadaisical”. This research followed on from disappointing end-of-year installation figures, which saw just 400MW of the 1.2GW of installations forecasted by the government achieve grid connection.
India Today, 6 January 2012  / PV Tech, 6 January 2012


Netherlands: Borssele 2 delayed; EDF no longer interested.
Delta, the regional utility wanting to build a nuclear reactor at Borssele, delayed its decision about investing 110 million in a new license by at least half a year. Furthermore they announced that Delta will no longer be the leading company in the project. Although it is hard to find out what that exactly means, it is clear that Delta will not have a majority stake in the reactor if the project continues. Many people expect this is the end of the project. However, in a press statement Delta is repeating its commitment towards nuclear energy.

Another surprising outcome was that the French state utility EDF (which signed a Memorandum of Understanding about investigating the possibilities for a new reactor in the Netherlands with Delta in 2010) is not longer involved in the project. Delta CEO Boerma, a passionate but clumsy nuclear advocate, left the company, but that cannot be seen as the end of the nuclear interest in nuclear power, either. It is a sacrifice to reassure the shareholders he offended several times in the last months.

German RWE (via the Dutch subsidiary ERH Essent) is another interested partner for a new reactor at Borssele. ERH is in the process to obtain a licence and has the same decision to make as Delta to invest 110 million euro in obtaining a license. If RWE is still interested at all, it is more likely they will cooperate with a large share in the Delta project.

Public support in Zeeland for a new reactor is plummeting according to several polls early December. This is another nail in the coffin, because Delta is very keen to point out there is almost a unanimously positive feeling in the Zeeland province about the second nuclear power plant.

If Delta can not present solid partners for the project at the next stakeholders meeting planned in June 2012, those stakeholders will decide to pull the plug. 
Laka Foundation, 11 January 2012


US: Large area around the Grand Canyon protected from mining.
On January 9, 2012, after more than 2 years of environmental analysis and receiving many thousands of public comments from the American people, environmental and conservation groups, the outdoor recreation industry, mayors and tribal leaders, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar withdrew more than 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) of land around the canyon from new mining claims for the next twenty years -the longest period possible under the law.

In the months immediately leading up to this landmark decision, many environmental organizations worked with conservation advocates and outdoors enthusiasts around the country to urge the Administration to halt toxic uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. Interior Secretary Salazar received comments from nearly 300,000 citizens urging him to withdraw one million acres of land from new mining claims.

The decision however would allow a small number of existing uranium and other hard rock mining operations in the region to continue while barring the new claims. In 2009 Mr. Salazar suspended new uranium claims on public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon for two years, overturning a Bush administration policy that encouraged thousands of new claims when the price of uranium soared in 2006 and 2007. Many of the stakeholders are foreign interests, including Rosatom, Russia's state atomic energy corporation.

The landscape is not the only thing at stake. Uranium mining in western states has an abysmal track-record. In Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, uranium mining has had undeniable health impacts on miners and nearby residents, including cancer, anemia and birth defects. Even the Grand Canyon itself bears the scars of uranium mining. Radioactive waste has poisoned streams and soil in and around the canyon, while abandoned and active mines are scars on the Arizona landscape. Soil levels around the abandoned Orphan Mine inside Grand Canyon National Park are 450 times more than normal levels, and visitors to the park are warned not to drink from Horn Creek. The closest mine currently in operation, Arizona 1, is less than 2 miles from the canyon’s rim. “Mining so close to the Grand Canyon could contaminate the Colorado River, which runs through the canyon, and put the drinking water for 25 million Americans at risk,” added Pyne. “Uranium mining has already left a toxic legacy across the West -every uranium mine ever opened has required some degree of toxic waste clean-up- it certainly doesn’t belong near the Grand Canyon.”
Environment America, 9 January 2012 / New York Times, 6 January 2012


Finland, Olkiluoto 3.
August 2014 is the date that Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) expects to see power flow from its new reactor, Olkiluoto 3, according to a single-line statement issued on 21 December. The announcement brought a little more clarity to the unit's schedule compared with TVO's last announcement, which specified only the year 2014. The Finnish utility said it had been informed by the Areva-Siemens consortium building the unit that August 2014 was scheduled for commercial operation.

Construction started in May 2005. A few days after the October announcement that Olkiluoto cannot achieve grid-connection before 2014 the French daily was citing a report stating that the costs for Areva are expected to 6.6 billion euro (then US$ 9.1 billion). The price mentioned (and decided on) in Finnish Parliament was 2.5 billion euro, the initial contract for Olkiluoto 3 was 3 billion euro.
World Nuclear News, 21 December 2011 / Nuclear Monitor 735, 21 October 2012


France: 13 billion euro to upgrade safety of nuclear reactors.
In response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, French nuclear safety regulator ASN has released a 524-page report on the state of nuclear reactors in France. The report says that government-controlled power provider Electricité de France SA (EDF) needs to make significant upgrades “as soon as possible” to its 58 reactors in order to protect them from potential natural disasters. The ASN gave reactor operators until June 30 to deliver proposals meeting the enhanced security standards of sites they run. Costs for the upgrades are estimated at 10 billion euros (US$13.5 billion); previously planned upgrades to extend the life of the nation’s reactors from 40 to 60 years are now expected to cost as much as 50 billion euros. Modifications include building flood-proof diesel pumps to cool reactors, creating bunkered control rooms, and establishing an emergency task force that can respond to nuclear disasters within 24 hours. Andre Claude Lacoste, the Chairman of ASN, said, “We are not asking the operator to make these investments. We are telling them to do so.” French Energy Minister Eric Besson plans to meet with EDF and reactor maker Areva, as well as CEA, the government-funded technological research organization, on January 9 to discuss implementation of ASN’s recommendations. Seventy-five percent of France’s energy comes from nuclear power, more than that of any other country. Experts say that the cost of nuclear power in France will almost certainly rise as a result of the required upgrades. EDF shares are down as much as 43 percent in the last 12 months.
Greenpeace blog, 6 January 2012 / Bloomberg, 4 January 2012


Nuclear's bad image? James Bond's Dr. No is to blame!
James Bond movies are to blame for a negative public attitude to nuclear power, according to a leading scientist. Professor David Phillips, president of the Royal Society Of Chemistry, reckons that supervillains such as Dr No, the evil genius with his own nuclear reactor, has helped create a "remorselessly grim" perception of atomic energy. Speaking ahead of Bond's 50th anniversary celebrations, Phillips said he hopes to create a "renaissance" in nuclear power. In the first Bond film of the same name, Dr No is eventually defeated by Sean Connery's 007 who throws him into a cooling pool in the reactor. And Phillips claims that this set a precedent for nuclear power being sees as a "barely controllable force for evil", according to BBC News, since later villains hatched similar nuclear plots.
NME, 12 January 2012


North Korea: halting enrichment for food?
On January 11, North Korea suggested it was open to halting its enrichment of uranium in return for concessions that are likely to include food assistance from the United States, the Washington Post reported. A statement said to be from a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman urged the Obama administration to "build confidence" by including a greater amount of food in a bilateral agreement reportedly struck late last year shortly before the sudden death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Washington halted food assistance to the North after the regime carried out what was widely seen as a test of its long-range ballistic missile technology in spring 2009.

While rebuking the United States for connecting food assistance to security concerns, the statement was less bombastic than the proclamations that are typically issued by the Stalinist state. The statement marked the first time Pyongyang made a public pronouncement about the rumored talks with Washington on a deal for food assistance in exchange for some nuclear disarmament steps. Washington has demanded that Pyongyang halt uranium enrichment efforts unveiled in 2010 as one condition to the resumption of broader North Korean denuclearization negotiations that also involve China, Japan, Russia and South Korea (the socalled six-party talks).

The Obama administration has been exceedingly wary about agreeing to any concessions with Pyongyang, which has a long track record of agreeing to nuclear disarmament actions in return for foreign assistance only to reverse course once it has attained certain benefits.
Global Security Newswire, 11 January 2012


Support for nuclear is not 100% any more in CR and SR.
Both Czech and Slovak Republic until recently announced intentions of keeping nuclear power and even increasing capacity by constructing new nuclear power plants – more the less for export.  However, Fukushima and “nearby” Germany´s phase-out caused doubts.  Mr. Janiš, the Chairman of the Economic Committee of the Slovak Parliament said today: “I have not seen an objective study on the benefits of constructing a new nuclear power plant in Jaslovské Bohunice,” said Mr. Janiš. According to him it would be a wrong decision to make Slovakia into a nuclear superpower, when e.g. Germany and Switzerland are phasing out their plants. Mr. Janiš thinks that biomass and sun are the future. Contrary to him, the minister of economy Mr. Juraj Miškov still believes that the fifth unit in Jaslovské Bohunice has a future; the feasibility study will be ready by mid 2012. He is convinced that due to the phase-out in some countries, the electricity demand will increase and Slovakia might become an even more important electricity exporting country than until now.

This comes only days after the Czech Republic announced to downsize the Temelin tender from 5 to 2 reactors thereby losing the possibility to negotiate a 30% lower price. Also here a major question is: will Austria and Germany be interested in importing nuclear power?
www.energia.sk, 10 January 2012


Russia: 25,000 undersea radioactive waste sites.
There are nearly 25,000 hazardous underwater objects containing solid radioactive waste in Russia, an emergencies ministry official said on December 26. The ministry has compiled a register of so-called sea hazards, including underwater objects in the Baltic, Barents, White, Kara, and Black Seas as well as the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan. These underwater objects include nuclear submarines that have sunk and ships with ammunition and oil products, chemicals and radioactive waste. Hazardous sites with solid radioactive waste sit on the sea bed mainly at a depth of 500 meters, Oleg Kuznetsov, deputy head of special projects at the ministry’s rescue service, said. Especially dangerous are reactor holds of nuclear submarines off the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and a radio-isotope power units sunk near Sakhalin Island, he added.
RIA Novosti, 26 December 2011

The menace of uranium mining; Falea, Mali

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#736
6189
11/11/2011
ARACF
Article

The Berlin conference held in 1884/1885 drew the borders and organized the distribution of the African continent as we currently know it. Today multinational corporations hold the rights to and collect the riches of Africa’s arable land and resources, including the uranium of Falea which is to be exploited by Rockgate Capital Corporation.

In Mali about 60 exploration or exploitation licences are issued to foreign mining companies each year. In this race for the extraction of mineral resources encouraged by the Malian government, uranium and bauxite are the most sought after. The highest potential for uranium is in the community of Falea, endowed with extraordinary biodiversity and cultural richness.

The Municipality of Falea is located in the Western part of Mali and borders Guinea and Senegal. The population is estimated at 17,000 inhabitants. Most of the population is young (between 15 and 40 years old) and female (approximately 62%), comprising the ethnic groups: Djalonkes, Mandinka, Fula and Diakhanké.

About twenty years ago the French multinational Cogema – today Areva – discovered deposits of uranium, copper and bauxite in Falea. In 2007 the government of Mali concluded an agreement with the Canadian company Delta Exploration, now Rockgate Capital Corp, concerning the future exploitation of its primary resources. The conditions of the contract have not been made public.

Neither the Council of the Wise nor the “modern” municipal council, in place since 1995, nor the population were officially informed or consulted. In 2008 an airstrip was built within 50 meters of the primary school.

Traditionally, land in Mali belongs to no one. The «Maitre de la terre» «Chief of the soil» hands over the land to those cultivating it. Those who are digging a well or planting a tree on a piece of land granted to them by the “Maitre de la terre” are recognized by common law as the cultivators of the land upon which he generates value.

The traditional system is based on the ancient wisdom of refusing to allow land to become a commercial good or private property. Land is considered common to all and is not a commercial merchandise.

Short-term speculation has replaced traditional wisdom. The Malian government, influenced by the institutions inherited from its French colonial past, is selling the country’s wealth and traditions. All land not protected by ownership titles is state-owned. The mining code of Mali, adopted in 1999, gives the mining Ministry the right to issue mining permits for extracting fossil and mineral substances. This new administrative body was put in place by

the central authorities. Traditional institutions attempt to co-exist with modern law. The mayor and his municipal council have been elected since 1999. Common law which did not recognize ownership titles has been replaced by costly and long procedures for accessing land: numerous public inquiries, permits to be obtained and mandatory waiting periods.

Since 2009, core soil samples are collected from 300 meter deep holes drilled every 200 meters and flown by an Antonov plane to a South African laboratory with the goal of establishing a map to facilitate the exploitation of the surface as well as the ground beneath it.

Avoiding the Worst
In Bamako the Association of Citizens and Friends of Falea – ARACF – fights for the rights of Falea’s population. The association attempts to bring independent expertise and international attention to Falea; with partners such as the city of Geneva, the European Civic Forum, the CRIIRAD in France, and the OEKO Institute in Germany.

To obtain an exploitation permit, the Mali mining code requires companies to produce an environmental impact study – ESIA – containing the description of the project and an evaluation of the effects on people, nature and wildlife, soil, water, air, countryside and national resources. In April 2010 Rockgate Capital Corporation handed this job to Golder Associates, environmental experts and consultants with nearly 7000 employees based in over 150 offices worldwide.

If it is to determine and prepare citizen expertise within the time framework given, ARACF has, however, not received information concerning the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment schedule (ESIA). Officially, Mali’s central government adheres to the 'Environmental impact assessment and environmental audit capacity building in both public and private sectors' program set up by the International Resources Group (IRG - USAID).

The only reliable sources for the moment are statements published by Rockgate on its Internet site. The ARACF strongly wishes greater access to government information.

Access to official documents proves to be very difficult. This means that obtaining geological and regional maps, as well as viewing the proposed plans and programs of infrastructure and road construction necessary for the transportation of minerals is facilitated for potential investors, but complicated and quite expensive for civilians.

Baseline study
Before beginning to mine uranium, a natural radioactivity map must be drawn up. The nuclear lobby would like us to believe that the occurrence of birth defects and cancers is a normal event due to the presence of large underground uranium deposits; that the millions of tons of highly radioactive soil unearthed by the mining operation is not a contributing factor.

"To put in place a detailed study of the impact area (10.2 km x 13.3 km), a major hurdle must be overcome: limited access of the local population to the land Rockgate is prospecting, in spite of Malian law which specifies that only the underground mineral rights have been ceded to the corporation, not overland rights. For example, the military has been brought in to expel farmers from their traditional lands bordering the Falea based Kondoya gold mine in deference to the mining company and thus outside the land specifically designated for mining".

The baseline study is sponsored by the city of Geneva with technical support supplied by the French Independent Nuclear Research and Information Center (CRIIRAD). Geneva 'the guardian city' of the Falea baseline study, keeps the data of the study in a sure and neutral place.


"To reduce the devastating effects on the environment, the procedure for obtaining permits must require proof of independent and sufficient funding to cover the costs of rebuilding the land once the mine is shut down, as well as a plan and financing for the safe storage of the wastes produced by the mine for at least 200 years."

Advice to ARACF from Gerhard Schmidt of the German Oeko Institute


Source and contact: ARACF (Association des Ressortissants et Amis de la Commune de Falea), ACI Baco-Djicoroni, Rue 573 , Porte 682, Bamako, Mali
Tel: 00223 20 28 11 43
Email: faleadounia[at]yahoo.fr
Web: www.falea21.org

 

African uranium mines the center of attention

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#729
01/07/2011
WISE Amsterdam
Article

Uranium mining operations in Africa are being monitored actively by a wide range of organisations worldwide. After the last international uranium mining conference in Tanzania, November 2010, several reports have been published on the topic by various organisations.

A February 2011 study on financial benefits from uranium mining to African host states, Radioactive Revenues (Nuclear Monitor 727, May 27, 2011) published by the Dutch Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, SOMO, in collaboration with WISE Amsterdam, is now followed by a more extensive study on mitigation of social and environmental impacts. The new report analyses what mitigation measures are taken by companies and governments in the Central African Republic, South Africa, and Namibia, and compares these practices and results with the situation in Canada and Australia. The report, entitled Uranium From Africa. Mitigation of Uranium Mining Impacts on Society and Environment by Industry and Governments, will be published July 1, 2011

Reason for this study to be undertaken was the observation that the sudden increase in uranium prices in 2005/2006 has led to an augmentation of uranium mining activities in Africa. This uranium rush followed a uranium price increase, which developed after secondary uranium stocks - from superfluous Cold War nuclear weapons – started to decrease and the nuclear industry hoped to begin their often-mentioned but never-realized ‘Nuclear Renaissance’. The uranium rush has had its effects worldwide: hundreds of uranium prospection and exploitation companies were quickly established by speculators, who all have put claims on uranium deposits. However, with the most attractive deposits already claimed by the large players, and unfavorable conditions in some countries (Australia, rich in uranium, has several provinces which have put moratoria on uranium mining), Africa has received much attention from the industry. The lack of strict regulations and the absence of pressure on companies to be accountable for the effects of their operations in Africa are likely to influence Africa’s popularity.

Uranium mines are notorious for their impacts on environment and health. Processing of the radioactive uranium ores to produce a marketable product, uranium ore concentrate, inevitably leads to a release of uranium and its toxic and radioactive decay products, as well as other heavy metals, into the environment. In the best case, only soils become contaminated. In reality, radioactive contamination of ground and surface water, soils, and air, is commonly measured near uranium mines worldwide. Inhalation and ingestion of toxic and radioactive elements can lead to various diseases in humans.

In the study, behavior of companies and governments was analyzed by use of a questionnaire on the mining operations. The questionnaire was sent to NGOs, governments, and the industry. Topics that were treated in the questionnaire were:

* General policies, which concern agreements with host governments, documentation, certification, stakeholder engagement, grievance mechanisms, closure planning;
* Economy on the economic impacts and revenue transparency. The economic part on revenues and revenue transparency was used for the report Radioactive Revenues, the joint SOMO/WISE publication published in February 2011.
* Environment, impacts from mining in general, and uranium mining specifically. Special attention wass given to tailings, the mining waste. Piles of waste rock and ponds of tailings are toxic and radioactive and need to be handled with special care. Isolation from the environment is required. Questions were asked about energy use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water consumption, biodiversity, radiological surveys in the region.
* Labour rights on issues such as number of workforce, ethnicity and gender, discrimination, strikes, lock-outs, wages, occupational health and safety, and radiation protection for workers.
* Society considered participation of indigenous peoples and communities; Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, forced resettlements, security forces, public policy, corruption and compliance.

A selection of operations was analyzed: in the Central African Republic, Areva’s Bakouma mine; in South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti’s Vaal River operations, as well as First Uranium’s Ezulwini mine and MWS tailings reprocessing operation; and in Namibia, Areva’s Trekkopje mine, Paladin’s Langer Heinrich mine, and Rio Tinto’s Rössing mine.

In all operations, problems were paramount. Ranging from irresponsibly high water consumption in the desert, to hiding the deaths of workers, to absolute non-communication and denial of the public to the right to participate in decision-making processes; many worrying situations were observed.

The report concludes: ‘The question ‘What do industries and governments do to mitigate the negative impacts caused by uranium mining?’ cannot always be answered properly for every mining operation. Lack of transparency and accountability keep important information shielded from the public eye. This is a worrying signal. It has been widely recognised that accountability and transparency are crucial factors in whether or not populations can benefit from their natural resources. The lack of accountability and transparency observed in the Central African Republic, South Africa, and Namibia, can and does lead to mismanagement, and possibly also to corruption.

Company behaviour and Corporate Social Responsibility performance are highly variable. Environmental and social impacts remain significant; but addressing these issues can help prevent the worst case scenarios. Rio Tinto’s prior poor performance is improving by the use of extensive Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility programmes. AngloGold Ashanti seems to be following the same strategy. Both companies do address their negative impacts and have installed structures and projects to mitigate these. Areva is still highly centralised and is giving little attention to local issues such as stakeholder communication and public participation. Mitigation measures which were described by the company were minimal, which is surprising for a large nuclear energy company, rich in resources and experience. First Uranium performs poorly, especially on public participation and transparency. Claims of good corporate behaviour are not based on disclosed evidence, and are weakened even more by the company’s refusal to communicate openly and acknowledge real concerns of affected populations. Paladin Energy is not giving any proof of active and effective mitigation of their negative impacts.

The negative consequences from uranium mining were known before the writing of this report. Yet the current mitigation (or ‘greenwashing’) behavior of industry and responsible governments had so far not been described. The current report will therefore be helpful to point the nuclear industry as well as Northern and Southern governments at the underperformance of the uranium miners, and provide African NGOs with accurate information on relevant processes and issues in their countries. It can be used as a tool to inform stakeholders, to put pressure on companies, and to enhance awareness on the negative impacts of  nuclear energy consumption. Public concern about nuclear energy in the EU is generally not focused on uranium mines in Africa, but it can become a main topic if the public is well-informed about the current situation and behaviour of mining companies they are familiar with.The study was undertaken by WISE Amsterdam in collaboration with SOMO and can freely be obtained by sending an email to [email protected]

The February 2011 study Radioactive Revenues, on financial benefits from uranium mining operations for African host states, can still be downloaded from http://somo.nl/publications-en/Publication_3629/

U-mining in DR Congo; a radiant business
Another new June 2011 study, by the Ecumenical Network Central Africa (ENCA), entitled Uranium Mining in the DR Congo. A Radiant Business for European Nuclear Companies? Focuses on AREVA’s practices in the Katanga mining province in the DRC and makes the connection with Siemens and German banks. It can be downloaded from
http://www.oenz.de/fileadmin/users/oenz/PDF/Studie/Uranium_Mining_in_the_DRC_OENZ_June_2011.pdf

A Cameroonian network of organisations has recently published an information brochure with practical information on uranium in Cameroon. Among others, the Center for Environment and Development (CED) and the Network of Struggle against Hunger (RELUFA) have worked on the brochure – both Cameroonian organisations which give much attention to the topic of uranium mining. The brochure contains some general information on the advantages and drawbacks of uranium mining, and poses some fundamental questions to the government. According to the brochure, the Cameroonian government needs to ‘consider the exploitation of this resource with much discernment in order to take a decision which will meet the interests of the population in the best possible way.’  The brochure concludes with the questions ‘When comparing the possible advantages of a uranium project with the negative impacts, is the risk of an imbalance in favor of negative impacts not too important? In the current context, do we need to exploit this resource, or should we leave it in the ground?’

The brochure can be found at http://www.relufa.org/documents/BrochureURANIUMCameroun.pdf

Source and contact: Fleur Scheele at WISE Amsterdam

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WISE

Uranium mining in Africa: radioactive revenues

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#727
6137
26/05/2011
SOMO
Article

For African countries, the revenue derived from the uranium mining operations of multinational corporations is -despite the high price of uranium- minimal, uncertain and volatile. The financial agreements that these countries make with the uranium producers regarding their share in the profits are the primary reason for this state of affairs. This is the conclusion of a new report from WISE and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO): Radioactive Revenues: Financial Flows between Uranium Mining Companies and African Governments.

The report Radioactive Revenues analyses the financial aspects of uranium mining in the main African uranium producing countries -Namibia, Niger, Malawi and South Africa- and examines the activities of the four largest multinational uranium mining companies in Africa: the French AREVA group, the English-Australian Rio Tinto, the Australian Paladin Energy and the South-Africa-based AngloGold Ashanti.

Currently, one-fifth of all uranium worldwide is mined in Africa, and production is expected to double in the next two years. Nevertheless, uranium mining remains an uncertain source of revenue for African countries given the unstable price of uranium and the dependence on corporate profits.

The predictability of revenues
The most important revenues for host states from uranium mining in Africa are corporate income taxes, selling rights, mining royalties and, to a lesser extent, employment taxes, but there is a great deal of difference between the predictability and stability of these sources of revenue. Selling rights and royalties are generally more stable than corporate income tax as they do not depend directly on the profits of the mining companies, which can be highly volatile. The revenues from mining royalties depend primarily on uranium prices on the world market, but also on agreed prices and quantities in long-term contracts signed with customers.

Of all of the potential sources of revenues, those related to corporate earnings are the most volatile. These sources include corporate income tax (a percentage of taxable profits), taxes on dividends, and benefits from holding a stake in the mining company (dividend, retained earnings). These revenues are affected by uranium prices, production costs and by companies being able to reduce their corporate income tax liability through mechanisms that compensate them for losses in earlier periods and/or through the accelerated depreciation of investments.

In general, corporate income taxes may be further reduced by multinational corporations through the use of intra-group transactions that move their costs and earnings to jurisdictions where the corporate income tax rate is most favourable to the company. This study does not investigate the use of such (legal or illegal) tax avoidance/evasion mechanisms, but the frequent use of these mechanisms by multinational corporations in general likely reduces the contribution of corporate income tax as a source of revenue for host states and contributes to its unpredictability.

Niger’s right to sell a percentage of the uranium produced directly on the global market uranium provides an additional and somewhat stable source of revenue for the Nigerien government. This revenue stream is of course dependent on the market price.

Uranium prices
Many of the sources of revenue for host states depend heavily on the price of uranium on the world market. The period 2007–2009 was somewhat unique in this respect. During the period 1990- 2003, prices were much lower. Beginning in 2004, prices rose sharply, peaked in 2007, and have been slowly decreasing since then, although 2010 saw prices rise again slightly over 2009 levels.

The high prices during the 2007–2009 period caused earnings and profits of mining companies to rise as well. As a result, revenues for the host states from mining royalties and corporate income taxes increased as well. However, there is no guarantee that prices will not fall back to the low levels seen during 1990–2003, which would mean a significant reduction in revenues from royalties and corporate income taxes.

Changing regulations on revenues for host states
The study finds that some African host states have recently moved to strengthen their financial regulations on uranium mining in order to receive greater revenues from these operations. In 2007, Namibia decided that uranium mining companies should pay royalties of 3% of sales. In 2010, South Africa introduced mining royalties of 1.75% of gross sales when profits are 10% of gross sales.

However, the move that has been the most remarkable in generating additional revenues for the host state has been Niger’s acquisition of uranium selling rights, first negotiated with AREVA in 2007. During the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 the revenues received by the Nigerien government from this revenue stream amounted to Euro 9.1 million, Euro 27.5 million and Euro 20.9 million respectively. From 2013/2014 onwards, the Imouraren mine, with AREVA as the main shareholder, will enter into production. The government of Niger will have the right to sell 33.35% of the uranium produced, which is estimated to reach 5,000 tons annually. Also, for the existing mining operations by SOMAÏR and COMINAK, since 2010 Niger has the right to sell uranium according to its stake in the mining company (i.e. 36.6% and 31%, respectively).

Comparison of taxes and other contributions
Per kilogram of uranium sold, the study finds that Paladin in Malawi and AngloGold Ashanti in South Africa pay less taxes and other financial contributions than Rio Tinto in Namibia and AREVA in Niger. With a relatively low percentage of mining royalties to be paid and many opportunities for Paladin to reduce its corporate income tax in the early years of operations, Malawi is not expected to obtain much revenue from Paladin’s uranium mining operations if uranium prices decline. However, given the physical and operational differences between mines (e.g. uranium ore grade, capacity, production costs, lifetime, etc.), it is difficult to make a judgement about the regulations relating to revenues for the host states with regard to each mining operation.

In the period 2005 – 2009, the revenues received by Niger from the AREVA-owned mining operations amounted to Euro 225 million. In the same period, Namibia received Euro 181 million in revenue from the Rio Tinto-owned mining operations. A notable difference is the royalty rate, which is 3% in Namibia and 5.5% in Niger. In the period 2005 – 2007, Namibia received more revenue than Niger from corporate profits, but Niger has been catching up through the acquisition of selling rights.

Transparency of companies
Of the four companies reviewed in the study, Paladin appears to be the least transparent. It is the only company in the research that does not support the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and was the only company unwilling to answer requests for information for this study. Payments such as employment taxes and customs duties could not be found in its annual reports, while payments of corporate income taxes and royalties were not listed on a country-by-country basis.

Rio Tinto is transparent with regard to taxes and other contributions to the Namibian government by its majority owned company Rössing Uranium. Rio Tinto, along with AngloGold Ashanti, reports its tax payments on a country-by-country basis. AREVA cooperates in the EITI-related process of comparing company payments and government revenues in Niger. Among the four countries examined in this report, Niger is the only one that participates in the EITI.

The agreements (investment contracts) that uranium mining companies sign with host states can have a law-making function and often include tax exemptions and stabilization clauses. Such mining agreements are generally not made public. Paladin has signed a mining agreement with the government of Malawi, including tax exemptions and a clause which guarantees that the company will not face any increase in taxes or other contributions in the coming ten years. The fiscal details of this mining agreement have been made public. For Niger, most fiscal details of such agreements could be found without gaining access to the mining agreements themselves. The agreements between AngloGold Ashanti and South Africa and Rio Tinto and Namibia did not seem to contain specific clauses on taxes and other contributions that differ from national laws.

Source: Radioactive Revenues. Financial Flows between Uranium Mining Companies and African Governments by Albert ten Kate & Joseph Wilde-Ramsing. SOMO, WISE 2011.
The report can be downloaded at: http://somo.nl/publications-nl/Publication_3629-nl/

African NGO's trained on uranium mining issues

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#721
6108
17/12/2010
Fleur Scheele, WISE Amsterdam
Article

Continued interest of international uranium mining companies in the possibilities of extracting uranium from African soil has attracted the attention of non-governmental organizations worldwide. Many organizations work both individually and in groups on uranium mining in various African countries. In November 2010, a training week for NGOs was organized on the issue in Tanzania. An extremely diverse group of African and non-African experts and organizations joined and shared their knowledge and strategies in order to obtain information and inspiration for further action on uranium mining in Africa.

Representatives from 21 organizations from 9 African countries were present during the training week. All of them have had experiences with international mining companies working in their countries, whether this be in exploiting or exploring uranium resources. Some, such as a few Namibian and Nigerien NGOs, have been working on the issue for years, whereas others have only recently been confronted with uranium exploration and/or exploitation, as is the case with the Central African NGOs.

The training week was organized and partially paid by WISE Amsterdam, and was co-financed by various international organizations: Cordaid, NIZA, Eirene, SOMO and OxfamNovib. Other organizations, such as CRIIRAD, Greenpeace International and the Australian Conservation Foundation kindly contributed by allowing some of their uranium mining experts to be present as trainers in Tanzania.

Aims and background
The backgrounds of the participating organizations appeared to be remarkably diverse: they work on development issues, poverty alleviation, labor rights, human rights, peacekeeping, nuclear issues, and/or environment. A few of these organizations do not necessarily aim at stopping uranium mining operations, but would rather impose boundary conditions on uranium mining. They wish to ensure that local communities can give consent on whether or not uranium mining should take place on their land, that public participation is taking place during every step of the mining processes, that rights of local communities are respected, and that the communities at the very least gain significant economic benefits.

Most organizations, however, prefer to avoid any kind of uranium exploitation in their countries and keep the standpoint ‘Leave Uranium in the Ground’. Experienced NGOs claim that many years of uranium mining worldwide have shown that the expectations of great economic development and increased welfare do not actually become a reality for local communities. In the long term, uranium mining does not provide a single benefit for communities. The promises often made by governments and companies have proven to be empty. This view was clearly expressed by Australian activist Dave Sweeney when he quoted Aboriginal Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula: “None of the promises last, but the problems always do.“

Tanzania, being one of the countries where international companies are now eagerly exploring uranium resources, proved to be a suitable host for the uranium training week: many Tanzanian NGOs, journalists, and members of parliament showed their interest by attending and actively contributing to the training week. They had mostly been invited by the Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign Against Poverty (FEMAPO). FEMAPO has already been working in the Bahi district of Tanzania, where currently uranium exploration is taking place. They have worked with the communities of the Bahi district, and has informed them about the environmental hazards of uranium exploration in their region. Like FEMAPO, its sister organization CESOPE is currently working on informing the Tanzanian public and the affected communities. Uranium mining is a substantial threat to the Bahi people, as their livelihoods often entirely depend on their natural environment.

Central African organizations ACAPEE and OCDN, as well as some other Central African NGOs which did not attend the training week, are critically following French multi-billion dollar corporation AREVA. Assisted by several foreign organizations, they put pressure on their government as well as on the company to increase transparency of revenues and mining contracts. Also the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment is critically being followed by ACAPEE.

Central African citizens are not familiar with uranium mining and the public is not informed about its hazards. The capital-based NGOs try to improve their communication with the Bakouma community, in whose region AREVA is exploring uranium. Communication is difficult in the Central African Republic (CAR) due to limited infrastructure, the remoteness of many areas, and differences in languages. Therefore, NGOs in the CAR not only scrutinize the most prominent decision-makers, but also continuously search for the best strategies to inform the public, such as by gathering with other NGOs, trying to find ways to physically reach the remote area of Bakouma, and using radio stations.  

Cameroonian organizations CED (Centre for Environment and Development) and RELUFA (Reseau de Lutte contre la Faim, the Network of Poverty Alleviation) showed impressive material on their campaigns in Cameroon. They have provided villagers in exploration areas with GPS devices and training on GPS use. Thus equipped, the villagers can create their own village maps, on which land use is indicated. Sacred sites, agricultural land, rivers: anything can be included in these maps. After mapping the region, the maps can be used as a tool for discussions with the company as the villagers can point out exactly what land is important to them. CED and RELUFA do not only wish to empower the villagers and lobby at government and industry, they also strongly feel the need to do baseline studies on soil, water, and air and will soon start measuring radiation levels with their newly acquired Geiger-Mueller counter.

Several NGOs from Nigers capital Niamey were inexperienced on uranium mining issues and learned much about radiation, company structures, and social issues. They have all decided to start spending more time on the issue and to start informing the public in their country. Niger has seen uranium exploitation for several decades. This has had impacts on the country’s geography, economy, and environment. However, the communities are not well-informed on radiation, and the general public has not benefited from uranium revenues. ROTAB, a network of organizations for transparency and budgetary analysis, is working on the international Publish What You Pay campaign and has lately been paying much attention to the extractive industries in Niger. GREN, which also aims at the extractive industries, also participates in the PWYP campaign. In the past, these organizations focused  on gold and oil extraction in Niger. The international peace advocacy organization Eirene is active in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, and is now planning to start working on uranium mines with the organization GENOVICO. All have decided to increase their attention for uranium mining.

Organisation Aghir-in-Man was also present during the training. This NGO is based in the mining community of Niger and has worked exclusively on uranium mining over the past years. Aghir-in-Man has worked with several international NGOs in the past, whereby the last successful collaboration was with Greenpeace International and CRIIRAD, who published a report on the environmental pollution around Niger’s uranium mines in 2010. Aghir-in-Man draws attention to the issue internationally, but also organizes meetings with local communities on practical issues. As a result of meetings where women were informed about the dangers of washing their husbands’ dirty mineworkers clothes from the mine, women now refuse to wash uranium-contaminated clothes. The dusty clothes, that can contaminate people internally, are now being washed by the company at the mine.

In Malawi, the recently opened mine of Australian firm Paladin Energy has drawn attention of ActionAid Malawi and Citizens For Justice. They are keeping an eye on the developments in their country. Paladin Energy proves to be very non-communicative towards civil society: both the country offices in Malawi and Namibia and the headquarters in Australia have not responded to repeated WISE requests for interviews or email contact. That Paladins first concern is not its corporate social and environmental responsibility is not surprising if one keeps in mind the words of its CEO John Borshoff: “Australia and Canada have become overly sophisticated. They measure progress in other aspects than economic development, and rightly so, but I think there has been a sort of overcompensation in terms of thinking about environmental issues, social issues, way beyond what is necessary to achieve good practice.” Keeping in mind the shocking environmental pollution and neglect of Aboriginal rights in Australia by the uranium mining companies, Borshoff’s explanation that this Australian situation is already beyond ‘good practice’ makes one fear for Paladin’s corporate behavior when working in Africa. Not only has Paladin Energy managed to obtain very favorable contracts in Malawi, so that people’s rights are not guaranteed and the Malawi state does not make much profit from mining, the mine is also based close to Lake Malawi, upon which many people depend for its water and food. Activists fear contamination of the lake. CFJ and ActionAid try to inform and assist local communities and will do more research on a rumor about illegal nuclear transports from Malawi to Namibia. They are also keen on doing more radiological measurements themselves, something they have already done with river water recently.

Meanwhile, Earthlife Africa is working hard in South Africa and Namibia. Both countries have to deal with mine waste from uranium- and other mines, communities that are being exposed to radiation, and authoritarian governments that ignore the concerns of civil society. The limited knowledge of the public on mining hazards, along with a repressive political culture in both countries, proves it difficult for Earthlife and other NGOs to force governments and industry to mitigate environmental and social problems. Other countries can learn from South Africa’s problems when it comes to managing abandoned mines. South Africa has a long mining history: gold, platinum, chrome, manganese, diamonds and other metals were and are being exploited on a large scale. This has left behind a legacy: today, there are over 6000 abandoned mines in South Africa. These are not only dangerous to enter; they also cause great environmental problems. Many of them fill up with extremely acid water which contaminates ground water and river systems, and they have toxic and radioactive mine waste stored next to them. As the mining companies which owned them are no longer existing, the abandoned mines have now become the responsibility of the government. The extent of the problems, the impact on environment and communities, and the associated costs are so high that the government is reluctant to start working on tackling even the most urgent problems. South Africa’s Federation for a Sustainable Environment and Earthlife are continuously battling to hold the authorities accountable. The campaigns of FSE have long been neglected, but the lobbying now seems to have drawn some national and international attention to the issue and the issue is being discussed in parliament – these first steps can provide the South African NGOs with some hope.

Namibian human rights organization NamRights has observed Namibia change from a new and promising independent country, proud of its independence and wealthy with natural and human resources, into a country where government is letting its wealth being exploited to the benefit of a few individuals in the highest ranks of industry and government. A study by Labour Resource and Research Institute LaRRI in 2008 has shown that mineworkers in the Rossing uranium mine are suspecting their illnesses are related to their occupation. However, there is no possibility for them to go see a specialized medical doctor who is independent from the mine, and any claims towards company Rio Tinto are therefore no option. Unfortunately, government lacks the means and the willingness to carry out proper radiological measurements, and does not assist the sick people. There might be a role for NamRights to draw attention to these ill workers and community members, and remind Namibia’s uranium-keen government that they have a greater responsibility than just to attract wealthy international corporations to Namibia.

Inspired by the numerous examples of successful activism the NGOs will continue to work individually and together on uranium mining. Every country needs to find its own solution. Yet international NGOs can support, motivate, and strengthen one another. All NGOs mentioned in this article are more than willing to share their information and thoughts with you. Please contact them if you wish.

For freely available reports on uranium mining in Africa, please contact NIZA, SOMO, and WISE. WISE is preparing a full report of the training week, including all presentations. A copy can be obtained via WISE in January 2011. Also, SOMO and WISE are about to publish a report on revenues for African states, and will distribute an extensive publication on African uranium mines and their social and environmental impacts by February 2011.

Source: Fleur Scheele, WISE Amsterdam
For more information, contact: Marieke van Riet, WISE Amsterdam

About: 
Earthlife Africa

R.E.C.A. and compensating Navajo Nation U-miners

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#718
6097
29/10/2010
WISE
Article

In a new book, “Yellow Dirt. An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed”, award-winning environmental journalist Judy Pasternak follows four generations of Navajo families in a uranium mining area. She chronicles the cultural stoicism that prohibited them from complaining for so long about the alarming rates of cancer deaths, the betrayal of trust by corporate and government interests, the growing awareness of the tragedy visited on them in the name of national security, and the efforts to fight for restoration.

The crime story in "Yellow Dirt" develops around early tensions within the Atomic Energy Comittee. Pasternak quotes AEC safety inspector Ralph Batie telling a Denver Post reporter in 1949: "Definite radiation hazards exist in all the plants now operating." Batie was ordered to "keep your mouth shut." Jesse Johnson, the liaison between Washington and the mining companies, cut Batie's travel budget and strong-armed him into transferring out of the area. Pasternak writes that "Johnson simply would not allow uranium to pose a distinct peril of its own; he would not let cancer be an issue."

Sixty years later, while U.S. Congress considers amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA)  which would specifically allow compensation to workers exposed after 1971, make qualification for benefits easier to obtain, incorporate additional exposure testing and apply to those exposed to fallout from nuclear testing in more geographical areas, additional RECA coverage efforts are in the works.

One movement seeks to expand RECA to cover members of the Navajo Nation who were workers or children of workers in the uranium industry. Navajo workers and their descendants have experienced unique and devastating effects since uranium mining began on or near reservation lands.

Uranium Mines on Reservation Lands
As the largest Native American tribe in the U.S., the Navajo Nation covers about 27,000 square miles of parts of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. Because some of the uranium mines operating during the 1950s and 1960s were located on Navajo reservation lands in these states, many of the uranium mine workers were members of the Navajo Nation and were repeatedly exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. This caused the uranium miners, their families and later generations throughout the Navajo Nation to experience radiation-related illnesses like cancer, kidney disease and birth defects.

In addition, there has been a significant environmental impact on Navajo lands. According to Navajo President Joe Shirley, some uranium mines and milling sites were never properly closed or cleaned up. Residents near exposed areas have experienced sickness from radiation and pollution to the land and water surrounding their homes. This resulted in a tribal decision in 2005 to ban all uranium mining and milling on Navajo lands, but as the cost of uranium rises, companies have been knocking on the Navajo Nation’s door.

Efforts to Expand RECA
The Navajo Nation Dependents of Uranium Workers Committee has led a grassroots effort in recent years to aid the children of Navajo uranium miners who suffer ongoing effects related to radiation exposure. This group claims that many Navajo people who would otherwise be eligible for RECA coverage cannot get the help they deserve because the medical records from 50 or more years ago they need as proof no longer exist.

In past meetings with the Navajo nation about the continued effects of uranium mining, U.S. Senator Tom Udall has stated that “he is committed to continuing a dialogue on the effects of uranium mining on Navajo people and to seek justice for those who have been harmed.” His recently proposed amendments to RECA could benefit many members of the Navajo nation.

In addition to adding areas of coverage and including post-1971 workers, the RECA amendments could help the Navajo by allocating funds for further research on the impact of radiation exposure to workers, their families and communities. They could also allow RECA claimants to use affidavits in place of non-existent records and grant more compensation and medical benefits to eligible victims.

Respect and Support
Navajo President Joe Shirley continues to fight for RECA amendments, a moratorium on uranium mining in the U.S. and help with addressing the reservation environmental issues. The first step in compensating the Navajo people exposed to radiation and uranium activity who need help today would be for Congress to pass the proposed amendments, which are currently awaiting a hearing before the Senate or House Judiciary Committee.

Source: http://knowledgebase.findlaw.com/kb/2010/Oct/145201.html and “Yellow Dirt. An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed”, written by Judy Pasternak, Sept. 2010, Free Press.  317 pp. ISBN 978-1-4165-9482-6

For more information look at the Navajo Justice Page at: http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/sdancy.html


Navajo Attitudes Toward the Resource. In the Navajo creation story, there is mention of uranium. Uranium - called "cledge" - is from the underworld, and is to be left in the ground. According to the creation story, the Navajo were given a choice between yellow corn pollen and uranium. In Navajo belief, the yellow corn pollen possesses the positive elements of life. The pollen is prayed for and carried in medicine bags. Uranium was thought of as an element of the underworld that should remain in the earth. When uranium was released from the ground, Navajos believed it would become a serpent. Evil, death and destruction were seen as the problems the Navajo would face. These problems have become reality to the Navajo since mining began.


 

About: 
WISE

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#717
08/10/2010
Shorts

EU: ITER budget 2011 cut.
Members of the European Parliament's budget committee on October 4, voted to cut planned funding for the ITER experimental nuclear fusion project in 2011. The budget committee adopted an amendment to cut the ITER budget by 57 million euro to Euro 304.76 million (US$419.77 million) in 2011 in a revision to the EU's research budget. The week before, the parliament's rapporteur on the budget, Polish center-right MEP, Sidonia Jedrzejewska, said it was difficult to find cuts in the research budget because of very tight limits in the long-term budget and the need for proposed increases in areas like entrepreneurship and innovation and other energy-related projects. MEPs agreed to compensate for increases in expenditure in these areas by making equivalent cuts in the ITER budget, based on the assumption that the fusion project, which is running behind schedule, would not need all the funds allocated to it in 2011. This did not go far enough for the Green group, which wants the ITER program scrapped. "The least costly option would be to abandon the project now before the main construction has started at all. All the more so, given the massive doubts as to the commercial viability of nuclear fusion, which even optimistic analysts agree will not be commercially functional before 2050... We are deeply concerned that the Council is planning to throw an additional Eur1.4 billion into the black hole that is the ITER budget in 2012 and 2013," German Green MEP Helga Trupel said.
Platts, 5 October 2010


Canada: 60 million for electricity not produced.
The people of Ontario paid Bruce Power nearly Can$60 million in 2009 to not generate electricity for the province. According to the Toronto based CTV news station, a deal between the nuclear generator, a private company, and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) sets out a guarantee for a certain amount of power to be purchased -- even if it's not needed; the socalled ‘surplus baseload generation’. The OPA agreed to pay Bruce Can$ 48.33 (US$ 47.67 or 34.48 euro) for each megawatt hour of electricity that was not needed. In 2009, demand for electricity was down in Ontario, largely as a result of the recession. This meant Bruce's nuclear reactors weren't operating at full capacity. As a result, the OPA paid Bruce power Can$ 57.5 million for about 1.2 terawatt hours of electricity that was not produced. A terawatt is a million megawatts. An OPA spokesperson said the arrangement is like having a fire station: “they aren't needed all the time, but one must still pay to keep it open”. A Bruce Power spokesperson said the company is simply fulfilling its side of the deal.
CTV Toronto, 21 September 2010


Australia: no NT Government support for Angela Pamela mines.
Australia’s Northern Territory Government would not support the establishment of a uranium mine at Angela Pamela, 20km south of Alice Springs, it said 27 September. Paladin Energy Ltd, which holds an exploration licence for the Angela and Pamela uranium deposits with joint-venture partner Cameco Australia, says it is “surprised” by the announcement. Although the project is still at the exploration phase, Paladin says it has already spent “many millions of dollars,” relying on encouragement and positive support from the government.  Chief minister Paul Henderson said that the close proximity of the mine to tourist centre Alice Springs “has the very real potential to adversely affect the tourism market and the Alice Springs economy.” According to Nuclear Engineering International, the decision does not mean that the government is against development of uranium mines elsewhere. Ultimately approval for the establishment of a uranium mine will be the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government.
Nuclear Engineering International, 29 September 2010


Kuwait: opposition to nuclear fantasies.
A Kuwaiti lawmaker questioned plans by the oil-rich Gulf emirate to build a number of nuclear reactors for power generation and demanded information about the expected costs. In a series of questions to Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah on September 22, the head of parliament's financial and economic affairs panel, Yussef al-Zalzalah, asked if sufficient studies have been made on the issue. He also demanded to know the size of the budget allocated for the project and what has been spent so far. In its drive to develop nuclear energy for peaceful use, particularly to generate electricity, the Gulf state set up Kuwait National Nuclear Energy Committee (KNENEC) in 2009 headed by the prime minister. The emirate has signed memoranda of cooperation with France, the United States, Japan and Russia and, in April, upgraded its deal with France to the level of a full agreement.

KNNEC secretary general Ahmad Bishara said earlier in September that Kuwait will sign a fifth memorandum of cooperation with South Korea, which last year clinched a multi-billion-dollar deal with the neighboring United Arab Emirates. Zalzalah also inquired about press statements that Kuwait planned to build four 1,000 MW reactors by 2022, and if sufficient studies were made, and demanded documents related to the issue. Bishara has said Kuwait expects electricity demand to double in 10 to 15 years from the current 11,000 MW, which would make the country face a serious power shortage. KNNEC is conducting a series of studies on the cost of power generation by nuclear energy, setting up legal frameworks, reviews on potential sites for nuclear reactors and human resources, Bishara said. These studies are expected to be completed before the end of the year, and then the KNNEC will make the decision if Kuwait is to go nuclear, he said.

It sounds that even in a country where absolutely no civil society exits, there is still opposition to nuclear power.
AFP, 23 September 2010


Greenpeace takes radioactive waste to the European Parliament.
On October 7, Greenpeace delivered radioactive waste to the door of the European Parliament to remind MEPs in their last plenary session before considering a new nuclear waste law, that there is no solution to nuclear waste. Two qualified Greenpeace radiation specialists delivered four radioactive samples in two concrete and lead-lined containers. Dozens of trained Greenpeace volunteers zoned off areas with tape before handcuffing themselves in rings around the containers to ensure their safety.

Four samples of radioactive waste were collected from unsecured public locations: Sellafield beach in the UK; the seabed at la Hague in France; the banks of the Molse Nete River in Belgium; and from the uranium mining village of Akokan in Niger. Despite their danger, the materials are not classified as radioactive waste when discharged or left in the open environment as they stem from so-called 'authorised emissions' or from uranium mining. Yet, when collected and put in a container, the samples are classified as radioactive waste that needs to be guarded for centuries until decayed. Other nuclear waste, such as that waste from decommissioning and spent nuclear fuel, is even more dangerous and must be stored for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no way of securing this waste over such long time periods with guaranteed safety, and it continues to pile up all over the world.

Parliament will consider a nuclear waste law for Europe in November. But early drafts exclude the type of radioactive waste Greenpeace delivered. Immediately upon arrival, Greenpeace informed the Belgian national waste authority, which is responsible for containing such waste.
Greenpeace press release, 7 October 2010

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#716
24/09/2010
Shorts

Opposition mounting against refitting Gentilly-2.
More than 250 Quebec municipalities and regional municipal governments have banded together to demand the province shut the door on nuclear energy by mothballing Hydro-Quebec's Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor instead of rebuilding it. Copies of a resolution thus far adopted by 255 municipal bodies were presented to three opposition members of the Quebec legislature on September 10 by Mayor Gaetan Ruest of Amqui, Que., who has been spearheading a campaign launched in 2009. The thick stack of identically worded resolutions will be introduced in the full legislature after the assembly reconvenes Sept. 21. Public opinion polls show almost two-thirds of Quebecers are opposed to a plan by Hydro-Quebec to rebuild Gentilly-2.
Ottawa Citizen, 11 September 2010


China: people largely distrustful of the nuclear industry.
It is not any longer a European and North-American problem: now there is a shortage in nuclear professionals for their rapid expansion of nuclear power in China too. According to senior government officials, China's nuclear power industry is demanding more professionals than the country can produce, a potential threat to safety. China has six leading universities that train nuclear specialists. Neither Zhang or Li gave specific figures for the shortage, but an official with the China Nuclear Society estimated the country would need 5,000 to 6,000 professionals annually in the next decade or so, versus a yearly supply now of about 2,000. Li also stressed that "public education was critical because people were largely distrustful of the industry." A lack of professionals has often been identified as a reason that a rapid expansion of nuclear power is unrealistic.
Reuters, 20 September 2010


Urani? Naamik.
An amendment has been made by the Greenland government to the standard terms for exploration licences under the country's Mineral Resources Act of 2009. The amendment allows the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) to approve that comprehensive feasibility studies can be undertaken on mineral projects that include radioactive elements as exploitable minerals. Within this framework, projects are considered on a case-by-case basis at the government's discretion. 
 
Australian-based Greenland Minerals and Energy has lodged an application under these new regulations that has been approved by the BMP. The company says that it is now in a position to commit to commence definitive feasibility studies in 2011 as planned. The studies, it said, will generate the necessary information to determine development parameters for the Kvanefjeld deposit. The Greenland government has stressed that although radioactive elements may now be surveyed, their extraction is still not permitted.

The Kvanefjeld deposit is eight kilometres inland from the coastal town of Narsaq, near the southern tip of the country. It has a deep water port. Uranium comprises about 20% of the value of minerals able to be produced from Kvanefjeld.
World Nuclear News, 13 September 2010


India: Further delay Kudankulam.
The commissioning of the first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power project has been put off by a further three months from the previously revised scheduled date of completion. According to Nuclear Power Corporation of India, the first unit is expected to be commissioned in March 2011. Previously, it had mentioned December 2010 as the expected date of commercial operation. The 2,000 MW, two units of 1,000 MW each, nuclear project that is coming up at Kudankuklam, southern Tamil Nadu with Russian technology, reactors and fuel, has suffered a huge delay in commissioning.
The first of the two units was originally supposed to begin commercial operations in December 2007 which means, the project has already slipped by three years and three months. The second unit, initially scheduled to start commercial operations in December 2008, is now expected to go on stream in December 2011.
www.Steelguru.com, 5 September 2010


Spain: blockades after rumors decision waste storage. Spain delays the decision on nuclear storage site after news that the temporary dry-storage facility for high-level radioactive waste would be built in Valencia region revived long term opposition to the plan. According to a spokeswoman for the Valencia autonomous government, Spain's industry ministry announced on September 17 that the facility would be located in Zarra, a municipality in region. But the government was later forced to say it was not a final decision because of strong public opposition, according o statements to the Europe's environmental news and information service ENDS. The industry ministry rejects this interpretation, saying it only informed the regional government that Zarra was "well placed" to house the facility and that the decision would be "discussed" at the September 17 meeting of Spain's council of ministers. A spokesman said the government "hopes to have a decision soon".

Local residents and environmentalists responded to the news by blocking the Valencia-Madrid motorway on Sunday. The Spanish government has been trying to find a site since years. The search has become increasingly urgent since existing localized storage capacity is insufficient for the high-level waste produced in the country.
ENDS, 20 September 2010


U.A.E.: Raising debt to finance nuclear project.
Abu Dhabi is expected to raise debt to finance more than half the cost of its initial US$20 billion nuclear project, defying a warning by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that lenders could shy away from nuclear development. Yukiya Amano, the IAEA director general, said international lenders were “reluctant to support nuclear power projects”, amid a surge of interest in nuclear development by new countries.  Credit Suisse Group AG has been appointed as financial adviser for the United Arab Emirates’ nuclear power program, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. announced. So far no other banks have been appointed as advisers for the project, according to a report in Bloomberg. HSBC Holdings Plc may also be selected to advise state-run Emirates Nuclear Energy, although the bank is yet to be formally appointed for the role, which includes securing debt commitments for the project, Meed.com ('Middle East bussines intelligence since 1957') reported on its website September 15.

No firm plan for the financing exists yet but Abu Dhabi has already accessed debt markets to pay for energy infrastructure such as power plants and pipelines.  But the Abu Dhabi financing could be raised by a combination of export credit, syndicated loans and government bonds, depending on the appetite of global investors after the global recession. Credit Suisse will help develop a financing structure advantageous to Abu Dhabi.

Another way to subsidize nuclear power are export credit agencies. Those agencies from countries supplying the materials and parts are also expected to shoulder part of the financing. This would ease the pressure on Abu Dhabi’s government financing, which is already being funnelled into civic and industrial diversification projects, with a budget deficit forecast this year. Government guarantees on the loans, by contrast, can be a crucial ingredient to a 'successful financing'.
The Nation (UAE), 21 September 2010 / Bloomberg and Meed.com, 15 September 2010


U.K.: The end of the towel controversy. Sellafield's towels controversy is over after a change of heart by management over plans to stop issuing and washing towels used by workers in the 'active' areas of the nuclear site. There had been protests by the site unions who feared contamination could be left on clothing and carried off the site. Sellafield Ltd wanted workers to help cut costs by bringing in their own towels and taking them back home for washing. Towels amount to more than half the site laundry wash load. Management still thinks too many towels are being used but is ready to talk to the unions about other cost-cutting options.
Whitehaven News, 8 September 2010


Bulgaria: beach contaminated by uranium mining.
The sand from the Bulgarian Black coast bay "Vromos" is radioactive and "harmful for beach goers", according to experts from the Environment and Health Ministries. A letter, send to the Governor of the Region of Burgas, Konstantin Grebenarov, asks local authorities to make people aware of the results and place signs warning visitors to not use the beach. The radiation level is twice as high than the norm for the southern Black Sea coast, but the danger is not in the air, rather in the sand which contains uranium and radium. The contamination is coming from the now-closed nearby mine which deposited large amounts of radioactive waste in the bay between 1954 and 1977. The increase of radiation levels in the area over the last three years is attributed to some radioactive waste that has not been completely removed.

In the beginning of August, Grebenarov, already issued an order banning the use of the beach located between the municipalities of the city of Burgas and the town of Sozopol, near the town of Chernomorets. At the time Grebenarov said he made the decision after consulting with experts from the Health Ministry and the Environmental Agency.

The order triggered large-scale protests among hotel and land owners around the bay, saying the order serves business interests and aims at lowering property prices in the area. The Governor says the warning signs, placed at "Vromos," and removed by local owners, but will be mounted again.

During a visit early August to Sozopol, Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, promised the owners to make sure there would be a second measurement, and if it proves the radiation is within the norm, the ban would be lifted. But now it turns out that a separate measurement, done by the Executive Environmental Agency in mid-August, had the same results.
Sofia News Agency, 2 September 2010

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