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ROXSTOP says no to uranium at Roxby downs

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(November 21, 1997) Leave it in the ground. Simple concept - leave uranium in the ground. This was the whole message behind ROXSTOP, a desert action and music festival recently held in northern South Australia at the Roxby Downs/Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine. It ran from Sep. 22 to Oct. 2 and saw over 250 anti-uranium activists from all over Australia come together to oppose Western Mining Corporation's questionably operated Roxby Downs mine.

(481.4773) Roxby Action Collective -The logic behind calling for the closure of Australia's largest and richest mine is easy to understand: uranium is dangerous to life. Experts the world over aren't arguing about whether radiation from uranium and its associated products are dangerous - they all agree that ionising radiation is dangerous. The debate is merely about how much radiation is publicly acceptable, and that level is consistently getting lowered every 15 years or so. Put this in a context of irradiated workers, manipulation of Aboriginal groups in the region, namely the Kokatha and Arabanna peoples, serious environmental mismanagement of the tailings dam (it leaked 3 billion litres within the first 6 years of operation, and, with the acknowledgement of the South Australian Government, continues to leak at the moment), and devastating impacts on the beautiful mound springs of the Lake Eyre region (some have dried up and more will shortly), and one can understand the constant storm of controversy that surrounds WMC and the Roxby Downs uranium mine. And make no bones about it, it is the uranium which makes the mine profitable, not copper.

Roxby Downs is a difficult mine to close - it has always shared bi-partisan political support from Labour and Liberal, and is a massive orebody of copper, uranium, gold and silver. WMC is currently undertaking a A$1.5 billion (US$ 1.1 billion) expansion of Roxby to increase production levels. There will potentially be more uranium produced at Roxby alone than at Ranger, Jabiluka, Beverley, Kintyre and Honeymoon put together. Hence the urgency with which activists came together for ROXSTOP - this is one fight we must - and will - win.

ROXSTOP incorporated many activities - protests at the mine itself, tour of the overall facility (where the lack of radiation protection signs was of deep concern), listening to the history and stories of the Kokatha people from women elders, and the stories of the Arabanna male elders, an all-day music concert with artists and bands from all over Australia, a public meeting on worker's health issues in the township of Roxby Downs with a special radiation expert from the USA (Dr David Richardson), solidarity with unionists and workers from the mine, visiting many of the springs in the Lake Eyre region to witness Roxby's long term damage. Perhaps the most poignant event, though, was the spontaneous blockading of a road-wide semi-trailor for half a day.

The massive truck contained a pre-fabricated steel structure for part of the new pipeline which will take even more water from the Great Artesian Basin. This basin feeds the mound springs their water in what is otherwise one of the driest regions on the planet. The power of a small band of people lying down on a desert highway can never be underestimated - within the hour police tried forcefully to remove protesters, however, using our much greater numbers we easily prevailed and we continued blocking the road for half a day. We had achieved our main aim - interfering with the expansion program, increasing costs, achieving wide media coverage across Australia and raising awareness among the local community and workers.

The anti-uranium movement in Australia is at a cross-roads: existing mines are expanding (Ranger, Kakadu Nat. Park, Roxby Downs); there are four proposals for new mines across the country with more expected and a new nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights in the southern suburbs of Sydney. The Howard government has continually halted approvals because of widespread community opposition and active campaigning by the environment movement. The people of Australia have been consistently saying for decades we don't want uranium from our country to be dug up and exported to another country to become somebody else's problem - remember Chernobyl? remember the spontaneous anger shown on streets Australia-wide at French tests in our nearby Pacific neighbours? Howard and his boys do not have the mandate to destroy our country and world heritage areas for short term profit and at the expense of Aboriginal land rights and rural communities - whether it's Roxby, Ranger, or anywhere.

ROXSTOP highlighted to WMC and the Federal and South Australian governments that they are not off the hook. Roxby is a national shame and should be closed immediately. People are seeing through economic rationalism and mobilising. This campaign will only get more vibrant. It has to. Leave it in the ground INDEED.

Source & Contact: Roxby Action Collective: PO Box 222 Fitzroy, Victoria 3065, Australia. Tel: +61-3-9419 8700; Fax: +61-3-9416 2081
For more info and photos, see

Take a break (at Kakadu national park). At a recent meeting in Alice springs of Aboriginal and Green groups, Jabiluka traditional owners expressed a strong wish to proceed with preparing a major blockade/civil disobedience action in the Kakadu national park. The action will most likely take place in March/April/May next year. Anyone who has non-violent direct action experience, either at nuke weapons establishments or at Gorleben or Temelin, or Japanese nuclear sites, or wherever, are urged to consider taking a holiday in the Kakadu national park around that time. International support in terms of people willing to put their bodies on the line, financial support, logistic support, etc. is needed very much. High on the 'wish list' of things needed is communication equipment - eg. a satellite telephone. It's quite remote up there.
Contact: John Hallam, Nuclear Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Sydney. Suite 15, Ist Floor, 104 Bathurst street, Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Tel: +61-2-9283 2004; Fax: 6+1-2-9283 2005.

Olympic Dam

Canada: Uranium mining review panel is in trouble

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(October 18, 1996) The Joint Federal-Provincial Review Panel on Uranium Mining Developments in Northern Saskatchewan is in serious trouble. The panel was established in 1991 to review the impact of the proposed uranium mining projects of Midwest, Dominique-Janine Extension for Cluff Lake, McClean Lake, McArthur River, and Cigar Lake.

(460.4567) WISE Uranium/Amsterdam Two of the five panel members have quit in the last few weeks: - Dr. Annalee Yassi, occupational and environmental health professor at the University of Manitoba, who resigned on August 15. As early as April this year, she had shared her concerns in adocument prepared for other panel members. Complaining about theinformation policy of the mining company, she said: "The panelnotes that the information necessary to assess the benefits of this project has not been forthcoming. As noted in the submissions, someof the information requested by the panel was dismissed by the proponent; words such as 'cavalier' were used to characterize the response." She elaborated on the socio-economic impact on northern Saskatchewan communities, on revenue-sharing, on the economic viability of the Midwest project, and on health concerns. She then concluded: "If it is essential, or even highly desirable,for additional information to be sought a second time beforeproceeding to public hearings, this should, and must, be done.

- John Dantouze, vice-chief with the Prince Albert Grand Council, and only aboriginal member of the panel, resigned on October 1. In a press release on that day, Dantouze briefly outlined his reasons:

  1. " The moral obligation to the people of Saskatchewan that I assumed in accepting my appointment to the panel cannot be met because the panel review process has been undermined and is not respected by the governments that created it.
  2. Inadequacy of pertinent information regarding uranium mining development proposals.
  3. Disregard for the joint federal/provincial panel recommendations in the first environmental review process of the Dominique-Janine extension, the Midwest Joint Venture and the McClean Lake mine.
  4. Saskatchewan northerners are not the primary beneficiaries of uranium development, nor will the current panel process contribute to the achievement of this objective."

Moreover, several concerned parties withdrew from the review process during the last weeks:

  • The Inter-Church Uranium Committee (ICUC), a major objector to the proposed mining projects, withdrew from the participation in the review process.
  • The mayors of four northern communities in Saskatchewan announced on October 1, 1996, that they would not allow the scheduled public hearings to be held in their communities. "As the elected leaders of more than 85% of the residents of the primary impact area, we can no longer participate in processes which are either ineffective in or hostile to the protection and enhancement of our rights and interest," the three chiefs of the Athabasca Denesuline First Nations had written in a September 9letter to Premier Roy Romanov and Mr. Don Lee, chairperson of the panel, advising them that the panel hearings scheduled for their communities had been cancelled. As reasons for their protest, they cited the following:
    1. "None of the current federal and provincial authorities whose approval is required for uranium mining development recognizes or requires the approval of the Denesuline First Nations of the primary impact area. This is our traditional homeland. Our treaty and aboriginal rights within this territory are recognized within the Canadian Constitution and must translate into effective decision-making in the uranium mining development approval process.
    2. The joint panel, in its review of earlier mining projects, recommended "greater community involvement in the monitoring program" (Rabbit Lake extensions). The current advisory role that our First Nation representatives play are inadequate, both in terms of having an independent technical capacity to monitor and authority to correct non-compliance.
    3. The joint panel in reviewing the Dominique-Janine extension (Cluff Lake) recommended that 50% of new employees be from the primary impact area and an additional 30% from other northern areas. Its recommendation with respect to the McClean Lake project was the same, i.e., 80% of the employment should be targeted for northerners. The federal and provincial governments and the mining companies have ignored these targets and continue to operate at a 1998 target of 60% of the labor force being northerners and no specific employment target for Athabasca residents. The current Athabasca participation in the operating mines is approximately 11%; the total northern participation rate is approximately 50% out of 1,550 permanent jobs. In addition, there has been no significant improvement in employee and race relations at the mine sites and the minimal opportunities for Athabasca business development in mine contracts are unacceptable.
    4. In December 1993, the joint panel stated, "The panel recommends the establishment of an agreement on a form of revenue-sharing that is acceptable to the majority of impacted communities." In response, the Canadian government stated that it "encourages the Province of Saskatchewan to carefully consider this proposal". Unfortunately, the province has rejected any consideration of revenue-sharing and instead continuosly refers to its "Northern Revenue Sharing Trust Account" to which First Nations are not eligible. None of the approximately Can$120 million (U.S.$88 million) contributed to this trust account has been received by First Nations."

With these resignations, the review process on the large-scale uranium mining projects in northern Saskatchewan (with the participation of French and German mining companies), is imperilled.


  • WISE-Uranium, E-mail Peter Diehl, 6 October 1996
  • Press release John Dantouza, 1 October 1996
  • Letter to Panel Members by Dr. Annalee Yassi, April 1996

Contact: Inter-Church Uranium Committee, PO Box 7724, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S4P 2P4, Canada

U-Industry issues uranium supply warning

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(September 20, 1996) On September 6, the Uranium Institute (UI) issued a warning: current plans for uranium production are unlikely to be sufficient to meet future power reactor requirements, even though world uranium reserves are more than adequate.

(458.4551) WISE-Amsterdam - At the industrial association's annual symposium, UI published the latest edition of its market report on future uranium supply and demand. The report covers the global nuclear fuel market up to the year 2015. It reviews future nuclear generating capacity and the sources of nuclear fuel available, as well as gives projected supply- and-demand figures for three different scenarios.

The report concludes that only with the combination of the lowest requirements scenario and the highest-supply scenario will uranium production be sufficient to meet the demand, and then only from 2002 onwards. Otherwise demand may exceed the present planned supply by as much as 15,000 tons of uranium per year. The report predicts that in the year 2000, the lowest estimate of requirements would be 65,600 tons of uranium, while the highest projected supply figure would be 61,400 tons. For 2010, the lowest predicted requirements would be 66,900 tons, with supply ranging from 58,300 to 70,100.

The UI issued details of plans by Australia, Canada and the U.S. to increase uranium production in response to different factors.

According to the UI, 1995 may have marked a turnaround in the world uranium market that is continuing in 1996. After nine consecutive years of falling production between 1985 and 1994, last year's world uranium production rose 4.4% above the previous year to reach 33,275 tU. This figure, however, represents about 55% of annual reactor requirements (estimated by the UI at 61,400 tons). UI analysts now believe that there are only 80,000 tons of excess stocks left, equivalent to just over one year's requirement of the current world demand. After several years where half the demand was covered by new production, the uranium spot market prices have risen enough to stimulate and supplement 'positive' developments in the uranium mining industry. World uranium prices have almost doubled in the last two years to $16 per pound.

Australia, Canada, Niger and the United States led the world in uranium production in 1995. Although Niger's production capacity is not expected to change greatly in the near future, the other three countries are planning to expand uranium production in the coming years, though the reasons behind their planned production increases are different. In Australia the main stimulus to recent activity is the end of the former government's 'Three Mines Policy'. In Canada, recent announcements are very much part of a long-term plan to maintain supplies, while the planned increases in the U.S. appear to be almost exclusively price-driven. A brief summary of the planned production activities of these three major producers follows (including expectations, or should we say 'hopes'?):


The election of the coalition government in March 1996 brought the "Three Mines Policy" of the Labor Party to an end. This allows Australia's uranium mines to seek approval for new projects. The abolition of the "Three Mines Policy", together with an anticipated rise in demand and a firmer spot uranium price, have led Australia's uranium production companies to plan significant increases in their uranium mining over the next couple of years.

For the first time since 1983-84, Australia's total uranium production exceeded 4,240 tU in 1995-96, including close to 2,930 tU from the Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. (ERA)'s Ranger mine and 1,400 tU from WMC's Olympic Dam mine. Both companies have already indicated that they intend to increase production to a combined capacity of about 8,000 tU from today's figure of 4,500 tU.

The ERA has already been granted final government approval to mine the Ranger 3 orebody, which it plans to bring into production in July 1997. Ranger 3 is reported to have proven and probable reserves of 48,010 tU. The ERA has also referred its Jabiluka (North Ranger) project for environmental assessment and expects to be producing by 1999. Together with Ranger 3, the 76,660-tU reserves of Jabiluka will secure production until 2,025. Western Mining Corporation Ltd. (WMC) is planning expansion at Olympic Dam and also later developing the Yeelirrie deposit. Olympic Dam capacity is currently about 1,500 tU and the plan is to double this, but even at this level the company expects to be producing from Olympic Dam in 120 years' time. Canning Resources Pty Ltd. (CRA) is investigating the possibility of bringing the Kintyre deposit into production.


In 1995, Canada's uranium production reached 10,515 tU, its highest level since 1989 and an 8.5% increase over the 1994 figure. This was accomplished by producing 5,463 tU from Key Lake (Cameco and Uranerz), 3,147 tU from Rabbit Lake (Cameco and Uranerz), and 1,210 tU from Cluff Lake (COGEMA). Counter to the expansion trend, however, Rio Algom has now closed its Stanleigh mine at Elliot Lake.

Public hearings are scheduled to take place between September 4 and October 11, 1996, to review the McArthur River and Cigar Lake uranium projects. A 'positive' decision (for the nuclear industry) by the middle of 1997 would allow production at the sites to begin on schedule in 1999. McArthur Lake is managed cooperatively by Cameco, Uranerz and Cogema, and has estimated reserves of approximately 160,000 tU. Cigar Lake is managed jointly by Cameco and Cogema and has reserves of approximately 148,000 tU. Cameco has announced that it plans to raise capacity by 50% by the year 2005 to meet the "strong demand" from nuclear generators.

Canadian development plans are part of a long-term strategy on the part of the producers to extend the capacity in order to maintain Canada's position as the world's premier supplier of uranium. Production capacity will be rising beyond the year 2000.


According to the report by the Uranium Institute, perhaps the most significant indication of a changing attitude toward the production of uranium is occurring in the United States. While in 1994 the U.S. only produced 1,400 tU, it produced 2,360 tU in 1995. This represents a 69% increase in production in one year. This turnaround follows years in which the industry in the U.S. has been in steep decline.

The Uranium Resources Inc. (URI) is considering expansion plans that would triple its production capacity over a five-year period. The URI announced that its plan to increase the company's production in south Texas from approximately 770 tU per year to just over 1,150 tU per year was well underway and that the company was pursuing licenses and permits to begin production of 385 tU per year in New Mexico in the first half of 1998. The URI has also started production at its Kingsville Dome ISL (in situ leaching) facility. The URI is not, however, alone in expanding uranium production in the United States. The others include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cotter Corp. plans to restart the Schwartzwalder mine in Colorado in 1997 and is in the process of getting permits to begin production in the year 2000 at its Charlie property in Powder Basin;
  • U.S. Energy plans to restart production at Ticaboo, Utah, in 1997;
  • Rio Algom has announced that U.S.$43 million would be spent to develop its Smith Ranch project in Wyoming so that the facility would be able to produce nearly 770 tU of uranium per year;
  • IMC-Agrico is reported to be looking into restarting byproduct uranium production from its New Wales, Florida, facility early in 1997; and
  • Plateau Resources is planning to bring the Shootaring uranium mill in Utah back into operation after 14 years on stand-by. Plateau Resources hopes to bring the mill, which was last operated in 1982, into production by the fourth quarter of 1996.

Source: NucNet, 26 August & 6 September 1996 / Reuter 6 September 1996
Contact: WISE Uranium, Peter Diehl

Saskatchewan: Still more new mines

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 4, 1994) While many anti-nuclear groups around the world are trying to get a handle on what to do with high-level nuclear waste, the anti-nuclear movement in Saskatchewan is trying to do its part by working against the source of that waste, namely, uranium mining.

(423.4188) Phillip Penna - This has been proven to be no easy task. But things have begun to change. These changes are small, but as we all know, the problems are long-term and require long-term resistance. The following is a brief history and update of the uranium mining situation in Saskatchewan.

Since the early 1950s, Saskatchewan has been a major supplier of uranium. The U.S. Department of Defense helped finance the opening of a number of uranium mines around the far northern town of Uranium City. From 1953-65, 100% of uranium exported from Saskatchewan went to supply the American and British nuclear weapons programs. In the 1970s, Canada be-came the world's greatest producer and exporter of uranium.

In the early 1980s, there was a second wave or uranium mining in the prov-ince. In 1980, the Cluff Lake mine opened in the northwest. This was followed by the Key Lake operation in the north-central region and then the new Rabbit Lake mines in the northeast opened in 1985. The Rabbit Lake mines are connected to Wollaston Lake, the largest waterbody wholly within the province. Thirty km across the lake from the mines is the Dene and Cree community of Wollaston Post.

This expansion made Saskatchewan the largest uranium producer in the western world, and it also set the stage for a massive exploration pro-gram. The beginning of this decade saw the province poised for an even larger expansion of six projects equaling 12 mines in total. Nine of these mines are within a 30 km radius of Wollaston Lake.

In 1991, the federal and provincial governments set up a joint environmental assessment review panel to review five of these projects. The other project, the Rabbit Lake Extension, had already received provincial approval so only the federal government was prepared to sponsor a public review of this project. Thus, another panel was appointed by the federal government to do that review. (To keep things simple the federal/provincial panel is referred to as "Panel A" and the other panel as "Panel B")

The review of three projects by Panel A ended in 1993. These projects were the Dominique-Janine Extension at duff Lake, The McClean Project (a five-mine project), and the Midwest Joint Venture. As well, Panel B com-pleted its review of the Rabbit Lake Extension. The report of Panel A's recommendations were a shock to the public, government and industry. The panel recommended approval of the Dominique-Janine Extension with 16 modifications, a five year delay for the McClean Lake Project again with 16 modifications, and a complete rejection of the Midwest Joint Venture. The day after this report was released, the local paper had a cover story with the title "Report Death Knell for Industry?" If these recommendations had have been implemented, the industry would most certainly have been on its knees. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case.

The Federal and Provincial governments responded to the recommendations of the panel by rejecting the five year delay for the McClean Project approving both it and the Dominique-Janine Extension. To their credit they rejected the Midwest Joint Venture, but the approval of McClean Lake was a serious blow to the anti-nuclear movement and the credibility of the environmental assessment review process.

There was a similar experience with the recommendations of Panel B. The Rabbit Lake Extension includes an underground uranium mine called Eagle Point, and two open pit mines called Collins Bay A and D Zones. Eagle Point is underneath Wollaston Lake and the open pits are actually in the lake itself. The company plans to set up dykes and mine the ore from the lake bed.

To everyone's surprise, Panel B recommended Eagle Point proceed but that Coffins A and D Zones should undergo further study before it be approved. If the government accepted these recommendations, the company would most likely not have proceeded as it would not have been cost effective to only mine the ore at Eagle Point. But once again, the federal government ignored the panel's concerns and gave its approval to mine all three ore bodies.

In summary, despite an exhaustive, intense two year public review concluding that eight of ten mines not be allowed to proceed, the governments have permitted nine mines to proceed. In January 1995, Panel A will begin its review, expected to take about one year, of the proposal to mine uranium at Cigar Lake. After this, Panel A will review the proposed McArthur River uranium mine.

These new mines are the world's uranium motherlode. The main companies involved are Uranerz from Germany, Cogema which is owned by the French government, and Cameco of Canada. The question is "why is there such a massive expansion in a glutted market?" The answer is simple. The mining companies want to control access to this resource. It is nothing less than neo-colonialism rearing its ugly head complete with government officials and community leaders, native and non-native, acting as willingly participants. Community based initiatives are repeatedly rejected, under-funded, and ignored in order to fulfill the international nuclear agenda.
But the struggle continues.

Despite the losses, the anti-nuclear movement has seen an important shift take place. This was articulated very well by Canadian anti-nuclear elder Ed Burt who in 1993 came from Ontario to witness at the public hearings. He said "I am glad I came out here, because I see that it's getting harder for them (the industry) and easier for us, and that feels good!"

So rather than being dismayed, we look forward to the upcoming reviews to continue to build opposition to the death-dealers and KEEP URANIUM IN THE GROUND!

Source and Contact: Inter-Church Uranium Committee, BOX 7724, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Canada S7K 4R4.
Tel: + 1-306-934-3030; Fax: + 1- 306-652-8277

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Smuggling: Berlin.

(October 7, 1994) On 12 September German police have seized from a Zairean traveller radioactive material smuggled by plane from Moscow to Berlin -- the fifth such seizure since May. The 34-year-old man had 850 grams of radioactive material in his personal luggage.
The Zairean man told police that he took the granular substance known as uraninite -- a raw material found in uranium strip mines -- from his homeland to Berlin, where he has lived for some time. He brought it from Zaire to examine its potential commercial use," said Potsdam police spokesman. die tageszeitung, 13 Sept. 1994


Smuggling: Sofia. Bulgarian police have found 19 containers of radioactive materials, including plutonium, caesium and strontium, hidden by amateur thieves in two cellars in Sofia, an interior ministry official said on 14 September.
Six Bulgarians were arrested in a week-long police operation to recover the biggest haul ever reported in Bulgaria. One of the containers, holding caesium-137, gave off radiation 1,000 times the normal level. Another, containing plutonium-239, radiated 250 times the normal level.
Bulgarian police, amazed at the ignorance of the alleged thieves, found no evidence of any trafficking network. "There was no sign that they were connected with foreigners...or that a deal was done," said the official, who declined to be named. "None of them had specialized technical knowledge or education."
A senior official from the Bulgarian Atomic Energy Committee which supervises registration of all radioactive materials in the country, said the haul was probably stolen locally. "In Bulgaria small quantities of radioactive material have been produced mainly for medical usage. Most probably the material was stolen from Bulgarian industrial enterprises," said the committee's safety director Petar Todorov. "We cannot say how much there is before specialized studies are performed." He added that during the last year the committee had received information on 75 unregistered enterprises where sources of radioactivity were in use. "We have found some of them... in many cases it appears that without our knowledge and permission the material has been handed over for disposal or transfered to another place. Sometimes we know the new places, sometimes we do not." Greenbase, 14 September 1994


Indonesia has ruled out sabotage as the cause of a blast (see WISE NC 418.4145) that killed a laboratory worker at the site of a nuclear research reactor on August 31, a government minister said on 14 September. Research and Technology Minister Yusuf Habibie told parliament it was possible the explosion was triggered by the ignition of a methane-based gas that seeped from packages being removed from a storage room in the laboratory when the worker tried to light a cigarette. "It is also possible that the gas had filled the room and caused the temperature to rise to a critical level," he said. Habibie said general public safety had not been threatened because the explosion was outside the radioactive area of the plant at Serpong, 30 km (20 miles) from Jakarta and run by the Indonesian Atomic Energy Agency (Batan). The 30-megawatt test reactor at Serpong, provided by Siemens of Germany, has been in operation for four years.
Indonesia plans to start building its first nuclear power plant on the island of Java in 1996 once it completes a feasibility study into the $1.2 billion project. Critics say nuclear reactors are risky in earthquake-prone Indonesia, especially on Java where about 60 percent of the archipelago's 188 million people live. Greenbase, 14 September 1994


Iodine contamination is becoming "more and more frequent" at French PWR sites, according to Electricité de France (EdF), following the incident at Dampierre-1 (9 August) in which 62 maintenance personnel received minor internal doses of iodine-131 (see WISE NC 417.brief). Of 31 recent contamination events, a EdF official said, nine involved iodine. Ultility and regulatory officials say that more attention must be paid to contamination risks, especially in design of procedures for opening the primary system at the "delicate" point of outage start, when radioactive inventory is still high.
Dampierre's problem was not only the trapped iodine but also the unavailability of the unit's regular containment ventilation system for the better part of the day, which allowed the iodine to accumulate near the workers. But what's more, the plant radiation monitoring system was not working during the period that the gas was accumulating in the reactor building, because the corresponding electrical cabinet was being serviced. Technical specifications did not require availability of the monitoring system during such a reactor configuration, but these specifications might well be revised. Nucleonics Week, 1 September 1994


Armenia is due to reopen its Metzamor nuclear power plant next spring, after signing a protocol with Russia on financing repairs, First Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Lev Ryabyev told Reuters. He said that a protocol signed on September 6, 1994, by himself and Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Vigen Chitechyan "will put the plant back into operation in the first quarter of 1995." The Metzamor plant, some 25 km outside the Armenian capital, was closed in 1989 when Armenia was still part of the Soviet Union, after an earthquake in which 25,000 people were killed. The plant was not damaged by the earthquake but the West says there are inbuilt design problems with its two Soviet-made reactors that make reopening risky.
Armenia decided last year to put the nuclear power plant- back into operation, a project which will cost between $70 million and $100 million. The protocol with Russia promised Armenia a loan of 60 billion roubles (just under $30 million). Reuter on Greenbase, 8 September 1994


Bolivians protesting against the storage of German waste stored in the city of Patacamaya in Bolivia. The waste contains arsenicum and radioactive substances. The wind carries poiseness and radioactive dust to surrounding cities from the storage site, which is located 4,000 meter above sea level. Especially children are vulnerable, and are complaining about pain and inflammations. Süddeutsche Zeitung, FRG, 16 July 1994


Hungary claimes it found a site for permanently storing highly radioactive nuclear waste that could be an alternative to the material's increasingly controversial transport to Russia. The site, located about one km below ground in a aleurolite stratum at Boda in southern Hungary, has the capacity to store all of Hungary's nuclear waste for decades, said Erno Pungor, head of the National Committee for Technological Development (NCTD).
The main goal of the 'national target project' for the treatment and final disposal of radwaste from the Paks NPP are to develop financing for management and to obtain the required licenses. The budget for the first stage, to be implemented by 1996, is 325 million forints (US$3.2 million). At the site near Boda a deep research laboratory is being set up by MEV Mecsek Ore Mining Co. under a 1993 cooperation agreement between AECL of Canada and the Hungarian Ministry of Trade & Industry.
Some Paks fuel has been reprocessed at the Russian Mayak facility, but the bulk of the fision product waste are still stored at the national site at Puspokszilagyi in liquid form, awaiting availability of a industrial vitrification process.
Russia has been increasingly unhappy about a commitment made by the former Soviet Union in 1966 to accept Paks's spent nuclear rods and other nuclear waste. Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin signed an agreement during his visit to Budapest in April under which Russia will continue receiving Paks's spent rods. But Russian politicians ranging from environmentalists to nationalists, including the country's environment minister, have said they dislike the deal.
In the meantime, Paks is making arrangements for interim dry storage of spent fuel. Hungary has to prepare for a time when Russia will no longer accept Hungary's radioactive waste, Pungor said. "The fact that Russia has agreed to accept it is only temporary,' he said. Nucleonics Week, 1 September 1994 / Greenbase, Sept. 12, 1994


Israel not willing to sign NPT. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told his Egyptian counterpart on 28 September that Israel will not join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) until there are bilateral agreements between Israel and all countries in the region.
An Israeli spokesman said that when Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa asked Israel to join the pact, Peres replied that Iraq and Iran had signed the NPT, but that did not deter them from engaging in nuclear programs. "Iraq and Iran's fear of us is our deterrence," Peres said. Egypt has introduced an initiative at the U.N. General Assembly for a new resolution calling on all countries of the Middle East to join the NPT. Greenbase, 28 September 1994


Dismantling sub-training reactors Estonia. More than 200 Russian experts have begun dismantling the two 25 MW land based submarine training reactors at the Paldiski naval base in Estonia. The work is expected to be completed in September 1995. Under an agreement signed 30 July in Moscow, the fuel rods from both Paldiski reactors is scheduled to be removed at the end of October 1994. Submarine operator training will be transferred to Obninsk in Russia and will be done on simulators rather than actual reactors. Nucleonics Week, 1 September 1994


N-Bomb left behind. A nuclear bomb sits at the bottom of a mine shaft at a test site in Kazakhstan, forgotten in the confusion of the Soviet collapse. Novaya Yezhednevnaya Gazeta (New Daily Newspaper) said the 0.3 kiloton bomb, a relatively small device, contains about one kilogram of plutonium.
It was put at the bottom of a mine shaft at the Semipalatinsk test site in May 1991, only a few months before the abortive coup that brought about the Soviet collapse. The newspaper said plans to test the device evaporated along with the Soviet Union. The Russian military has since suggested using a chemical explosion that would create a 'cocoon' around the plutonium charge without setting it off.
The newspaper said 'desolation reigns' at Semipalatinsk, once one of the most secret Soviet military bases. "It has been turned into a trash heap," it said. Shepherds have stolen barbed wire that once surrounded the 18,500 square kilometer site, cattle now graze in contaminated areas, research centers and base housing have been looted, the paper said. Greenbase, 11 September 1994


Russia plans to build four small floating nuclear power plants in the next few years to supply electricity to distant corners of Siberia, nuclear industry sources said on Friday. "This will save us the expense of shipping coal or oil at high costs to these remote areas," Georgy Kaurov, spokesman for the atomic energy ministry, said. "The economic advantages are fabulous," he added.
The four stations are to be equipped with two KLT-40-type reactors, already used on nuclear ice-breakers and submarines. Kaurov said the small-capacity plants would move "from one port to another depending on each region's needs." But an official at the nuclear watchdog body Gosatomnadzor said the plants would remain moored to one fixed point. "Before launching this project, the atomic energy ministry has to submit plans to us for expertise," a Gosatomnadzor official said.
Another official, Sergei Yermakov of the nuclear industry group Rosenergoatom, said the project would take four or five years, provided local authorities agreed and funding was made available. "Once these two conditions are met, we'll start to implement the project," Yermakov said. He estimated the project costs at "billions of roubles" but declined to give a specific figure. Greenbase, 16 September 1994

Smuggling weapons-grade material increases

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(September 2, 1994) Germany has repeated its call for pan-European cooperation with Russia in a bid to stop what Bonn believes is an increasing illegal traffic in bomb-quality plutonium out of the former Soviet Union's nuclear weapons facilities.

(417.4133) WISE Amsterdam - A German man was arrested in Bremen (northern Germany) in the second week of August while attempting to hand over a 'sample' of alleged Russian plutonium to a German undercover policeman. It was the fourth seizure in four months of alleged weapons-grade material from Russia.

According to German officials, the arrested man allegedly offered to supply up to 70 grammes of weapons grade plutonium with a certificate to prove its authenticity from a Moscow scientific institute.
According to preliminary analysis, his two gramme 'sample' contained 0.05 milligrammes of mixed plutonium and americium, elements commonly generated in nuclear power plants.

German police searched several houses in Berlin and arrested several people who named Pakistan as a possible destination for the plutonium. This however is unlikely. Pakistan for the first time admitted late August that they have nuclear weapons and it is common knowledge that Pakistans' road to a nuclear capability is by high enriched uranium and not plutonium.

- The arrest in Bremen followed the arrest a week earlier of two Spaniards and a Colombian carrying some 300 grammes of plutonium on a Lufthansa flight from Moscow to Munich.
- German police also seized an 0.8 gramme sample of highly-enriched Uranium 235 - alleged to have come from a Russian nuclear power station or submarine - from five east European men and a German woman earlier beginning of August.
- In June, three Russians were arrested in St Petersburg after stealing seven pounds of enriched uranium from a Moscow factory. The three had simply hidden it in their gloves and walked out.
- And in May police found six grammes of weapons-grade plutonium 239 mixed in mercury in the home of a German businessman.

The seizures, and Germany's stated belief that the seized material comes from Russia, has set Moscow and Bonn at loggerheads. German officials insist the material can be traced to nuclear facilities in Russia or else-where in the former Soviet Union.

Russian officials accuse Germany and the west of running a propaganda campaign against them for political and commercial advantage and say all their nuclear material can be accounted for.

There are three weapons-grade nuclear materials producers in Russia: the civilian nuclear industry, which produces raw plutonium as waste; the armed forces, holding surplus plutonium in soon-to-be decommissioned warheads and submarines; and the secret plants that constructed the weapons in the first place. It is this last sector, say the international environmental group Greenpeace, that is the problem. They say the plutonium seized in Germany must be Russian and most likely taken from secret facilities where security is lax.

In a network of secret cities built to construct the Soviet Union's nuclear deterrent, formerly highly-paid engineers are being starved of pay and technical support by a government that now considers them redundant with the end of the Cold War.

The former Soviet Union's bomb-building programme - the so-called Medium Machine Building Ministry - had funds and staffing on a scale that made it virtually a state in its own right with 10 secret cities with a total population of more than 700,000 people.

Yuri Vishnevsky, head of the recently established atomic energy inspectorate, Gosatomnadzor, said earlier this year (in an interview with IPS) that Russia still had no law regulating the use of nuclear materials. He said his inspectors checked 5,500 of the 14,500 organizations and individuals licensed to work with radioactive sub-stances, and discovered over 20,000 safety violations.

Yet the maximum ruse Vishnevsky is able to levy under the existing laws is a mere 100 roubles - presently less than the cost of a single cigarette.


  • Die Tageszeitung (FRG) 19 & 24 August 1994
  • lIPS, 21 Augusts in cdp.disarm.nucfaci

Contact: Greenpeace Russia. PO Box 60, 121002 Moscow, Russia. Tel: +7 095 293 3261

Victory in Saskatchewan; but action still needed!

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(November 5, 1993) The first of two Canadian environmental assessment review panels examining the expansion of the uranium industry in northern Saskatchewan released its final report on 29 October.

(400/1.3895) WISE Amsterdam - The three projects reviewed by the joint Federal-Provincial panel are McClean Lake, Midwest Joint Venture, and the Dominique-Jamne extension at the Cluff Lake mine. Of the three, only the Cluff Lake extension was approved subject to the implementation of sixteen conditions. The report is a major victory for anti-nuclear groups in Saskatchewan, Canada and around the world. This panel's mandate also includes reviewing the Cigar Lake and McArthur River developments, but the Environmental Impact Statements for these proposals have not been completed.

Although the final report has been issued, pressure must still be applied to the federal and provincial governments to accept the recommendations in the report. According to the environmental assessment laws in Canada, panel recommendations are not legally binding, and therefore the province and/or the federal government have the power to reject the report. Letters urging both levels of government to accept this report are now needed.

This is a crucial time for the New Democratic Party (NDP) which currently holds power in Saskatchewan.
At its provincial convention in November of 1992, the party reversed its phaseout policy of nine years to adopt one of accepting the recommendations made by the review panel. The province will not make its decision until after 29 November to allow time for the public to comment on the report. The uranium issue has historically divided the NDP in Saskatchewan and it will be faced with the wrath of many long standing party members if it does not adhere to last years decision at convention.

Report Recommendations
The only project approved is the Dominique-Janine extension at Cluff Lake operated by COGEMA, wholly- owned by the French government.

Approval of the project is subject to sixteen conditions, some of which are:

  1. agreement on a form of revenue sharing that is acceptable to the majority of the impacted communities;
  2. provision of a financial guarantee to cover decommissioning and post- de-commissioning costs;
  3. adoption of the exposure standards recommended in Publication 60 of the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP-60) without allowing the collective dose to increase;
  4. establishment of mechanisms for conducting an epidemiological study of the health of current and former workers at the Cluff Lake mine;
  5. evaluation of alternative methods of tailings disposal, with the goal of closing down the present tailings management facility as soon as possible.

The panel recommended that the McClean Lake project be delayed for at least five years to allow time to obtain more experience with previous surround tailings management, acquire comprehensive community health in-formation, maximize employment opportunities to the people of northern Saskatchewan through education and training, discuss further the larger issues and assess cumulative biophysical and socio-economic impacts.


The Inter-Church Uranium Committee would like to express deep gratitude for support and encouragement we have received from the international community. The fight here is not over, but we have taken a big step forward. We look forward to continued connections and further victories!!!

The Midwest Joint Venture project was deemed unacceptable as described in the Environmental Impact Statement submitted to the panel; the benefits that could be obtained are insufficient to balance the potential risks.

Weapons Connection Made
The issue of France's nuclear weapons testing was raised by many presenters during the public hearings. Although so-called 'end uses" of uranium were not part of the mandate of this review, the panel felt it necessary to comment on this aspect of the industry.

To quote from the report: "Participants noted that specific proponents, such as COGEMA are wholly-owned subsidiaries of foreign governments heavily involved in military weapons research, fabrication and testing. Accordingly, mining proponents are viewed as a direct part of the chain leading to weapons production..."

And further " proven method exists for preventing incorporation of Canadian uranium into military applications....current Canadian limitations on end uses of uranium provide no reassurance to the public that Canadian uranium is used solely for non-military applications by purchasers. The panel wishes to bring concerns related to the possible use of Saskatchewan uranium for weapons to the attention the government."

Industry Reaction Swift
Industry officials have reacted swiftly saying this could be the end of uranium mining and exploration in the province. Roland Löwer of the German-owned URANERZ (one of the companies involved in the Midwest Joint Venture) told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio, "The implication is that if some projects do not go ahead the implication for exploration is very serious. If we cannot mine projects or deposits that are already found and ready to be developed, why should we explore for more here in Saskatchewan or in Canada for that matter?"

Tim Meadley of Uranium Saskatchewan (a lobby group for the industry) said the report "may be the beginning of the end" for the industry in the province. Meadley pondered that accepting the recommendations "could make one wonder about future projects". He added, "It could encourage people to go elsewhere to mine uranium."

Letters supporting the report must be submitted by 29 November 1993. Write to: Malcolm Ross, Environmental Assessment Branch, Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management, 3085 Albert Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S4S OB1.

For a copy of the full report, contact: Uranium Mine Development Review Office, #420-1955 Smith Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 54P 2N8; tel: + 1-306-780-8251; fax: 306-780-8250.

Copies of letters to federal or provincial government officials should be sent to: the Inter-Church Uranium Committee, Box 7724, Saskatoon, Sask., S7K 4R4 Canada.


  • "Uranium Mining Developments in Northern Saskatchewan: Dominique-Janine Extension, Mc-Clean Lake Project, and Midwest Joint Venture" Report of the Joint Federal-Provincial Panel on Uranium Mining Developments in Northern Saskatchewan, Oct. 1993
  • Saskatoon Star Phoenix (Can), 30 Oct. 1993, p.1
  • CBC Radio News (Can), 29 Oct. 93.

Contact: Stephanie Sydiaha and Phil Penna, Inter-Church Uranium Committee, Box 7724, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, S7K 4R4; tel: + 1-306-934-3030; fax: 306-652-8377.


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Info request on US waste management company WASTEC Inc.

(April 21, 1992) There are several nuclear waste dumps on the Kola peninsula in the former Soviet Union which are in a sorry condition. I just read that the US company Wastec inc. is interested in taking part in the cleanup process. The company is small and relatively unknown, I have heard, but they claim they have the know-how for such clean-ups.
Is there anoyone out there which has any experience with this company? If so, please send information to the address below. Contact: Bjorn Bore, Nature and Youth Norway, Torggt 34, 0183 Oslo 1, Norway; E-mail: pns:bbore


Leukaemia kills Czechoslovakian children at waste site. For years, in the village of Crossen, Czechoslovakia, local children have played in the old "désaffectées" mines where the Czech army has stocked radioactive waste without any protection. These mines are still wide open. The children died of leukaemia. Some sources, quoted by the French journal Courrier International (28 Nov. 1991) speak of several thousand victims. Silence (France), Mar. 1992


Cantal, France: No to waste. After reading the Desgraupes report published in July 1991, the inhabitants of Saint-Pierre, near Saignes in Cantal, France, learned that the Total Mining Company had left 570,000 tonnes of mining residue containing 7.9 million becquerels of radium-226 at the site. The Cantal mining site was closed in 1986. The Cantal Greens are asking for the inventory of these residues, the levels of emitted radon, and a clean-up of the site. Contact: Les Verts, Salilhes, 15800 Thiezac, France. -Silence (France), Mar. 1992


Second largest fine for polluter/US. Rockwell International has agreed to pay the second-largest fine ever levied by the US federal government against a polluter. The fine of US$18.5 million is for illegal activities at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production plant. Rockwell pleaded guilty to 10 crimes (five of which are felonies) covering the period 1987-1989, including storing mixed radioactive/ hazardous wastes without a permit and failing to contain those wastes. Rockwell, however, charged that the Department of Energy (DOE) essentially approved of those activities with its emphasis on weapons production and by refusing to provide sufficient funds for Rockwell to deal properly with environmental problems. Rocky Flats has been permanently closed as a production center by the DOE, but clean-up activities are expected to take decades and the plant will continue to need security. The DOE states that savings of US$300 to $400 million - 30% of the $1.3 billion DOE environmental restoration program budget - could be made annually by cutting back on security. Currently, at Rocky Flats, there is a 40% to 60% overhead for security and administrative operations. The Nuclear Monitor (US), 6 April 1992, p.6; Nucleonics Week (US), 5 March 1992, p.3


Karlsruhe experiment fails/FRG. During a long-lasting research program to improve the safety of nuclear reactors, an accident occured at the nuclear research center at Karlsruhe, Germany. The experiment, carried out on 23 March, involved a test to improve the quality of the concrete shield which is supposed to keep the radioactive material inside the reactor building in the event of a meltdown. A concrete box was filled with liquid metal with a temperature of 2,500 ?C. The metal used had the same properties as the material which would be involved in a meltdown, with the exception of the radioactivity. The scientists were monitoring the destruction in an attempt to learn some lessons from it. In an attempt to decrease erosion of the concrete by lowering the temperature, they put water on the outside of the concrete box. Unfortunately, the destruction of the concrete occurred much faster than expected, and when the liquid metal came in contact with the water, water vapour arose and an explosion followed. Nobody was hurt (though there were perhaps some wounded egos), but the damage at the lab was considerable, and it will be closed for some time. Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 24 Mar. 1992


Again, transport irregularities at Lingen/FRG. For the third time in five years, irregularities in fuel transport control were found at the KWU/Siemens plant at Lingen (FRG). On 18 February a container that had been loaded with two bundles of BWR fuel rods at Lingen was sent to Karlstein. Upon arrival at Karlstein, the container was declared to be empty and sent back to the Avanced Nuclear Fuel plant at Lingen. There, however, the container was inspected and found to have 50 fuel rods, half the number originally loaded. Most likely the other half was unloaded at Karlstein. The transport from Karlsein to Lingen had, of course, no license. All transports from Karlstein and Lingen were stopped at 20 February, but only a month later (16 March) they where allowed to begin again, after the factories took some measures to improve the safety and control of the transports. [In 1990 fuel rods containing 129.5 kg Low Enriched Uranium were lost. They were discovered back in Richland (US) six days later. They had also been transported in containers that had been declared `empty'. The result of this was the decision by the EC to order Euratom to monitor nuclear materials security at the ANF-plant in Lingen for four months. And earlier, in 1987, a fuel container that workers had forgotten to empty two years earlier was found elsewhere on the site.] Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 26 May 1990; Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung (FRG), 2 Aug. 1990; Nuclear Fuel (US), 2 Mar. 1992; Die Tageszeitung, 17 Mar. 1992.


Giant opium poppies at Chernobyl. The 30 km wide "unfit for habitation" zone around the Chernobyl accident site is being used to grow opium and marijuana, according to two private drug monitoring groups. "Mountains of radioactive poppies have been seized, but the police are so frightened they are burning the stuff as quickly as they can" according to Jama Agalakova, spokesperson for a Moscow association monitoring the drug problem. She claims some of the poppy heads appear "abnormally large", up to twice their normal size. The International Association to Combat Drug Trafficing and Abuse plans aerial surveys of the area this May. If they find narcotics they are proposing seeding the contaminated zone with land minds to stop growers. International Herald Tribune (US), 30 Mar. 1992, p.1


Appropriate aid? Before the recent Sosnovy Bor accident there had been much talk (but not much action) about western aid to countries with reactors of Soviet design. The French and Germans have been considering a joint approach reportedly designed to retrofit the newer designs (VVER-1000) while closing "more doubtful" older reactors (VVER-440 and RBMK). But, France at least recognizes some political problems with this approach. One French offical said that it will be difficult for western benefactors to "explain the money is being reserved for nuclear safety" in societies where people are starving or badly in need of medical assistance. Nucleonics Week (US), 12 Mar. 1992, p.1


Kozloduy stopped by trembling turbine. Speaking of VVER's, one of the 1000 Mw reactors at Kozloduy in Bulgaria was shut down on 23 February when perso-nnel discovered a strange vibration in one of the turbi-nes. According to an announcement by Radio Sofia, the reac-tor was restarted the next day, after technici-ans took care of the problem. Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 25 Feb. 1992


Germany okay's wiretap and mail reading law. The German parliment has approved a law which gives part of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) the legal ability to tap the phones and open the mail of individuals and groups suspected of exporting nuclear materials illegally. This controversial legislation, which took over a year to pass, is even being criticized by an export control official: "Wiretaps might be authorized by MOF against suspected tax-evaders or others, even though the new law makes it clear that they can be justified for suspected export violations only', one source said. Nucleonics Week (US), 30 Jan. 1992, p.9


Problems with Sweden's reactors. The Swedes, who were so critical of the lack of fire protection at the Ignalina and St. Petersburg plants, turn out to be experiencing exactly the same problems at their own Ringhals and Barsebaek plants. Sweden's Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) recently discovered problems in its Barsebaeck plant, which located 23 km from Copenhagen. According to SKI, the sprinkeler system does not conform to the plant's own safety specifications. This has brought renewed calls from Denmark to shut the plant down. While the Danish newspaper Politiken ran a front page story calling this report "critical and shocking", Kenneth Zander, director of Safety and Quality at Barsebaeck said "None of these criticisms are new to us". Indeed, just the previous month a January SKI inspection at Ringhals discovered an inadequate sprinkler system, live cigarette butts in cable ladders and on valves in the turbine hall, in cable relay rooms, cable tunnels, and in the emergency power room. Nucleonics Week (US), 13 Feb. 1992, p.9; "Chernobyl Day Media Kit", John Hallam, FOE-Sydney, 16 Apr. 1992


23-25 April 1992: Actions in Slovakia to Commemorate Chernobyl. Organized by Friends of the Earth-Slovakia. 23-24 April: Walk from Bratislava to Piestany, together with the Austrian Mothers and Women against Nuclear Energy. 24 April: Meeting and videofilm "Nuclear Energy, a Bad Alternative" in Trnava. 25 April: Meeting in Trnava center, including concert, large-screen video, vegetarian buffet. 25 April: Cycling Against Nuclear Energy, from Trnava to the Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear plant. Contact: Marek Suchomel, Okresny Koordinacny Vybor SZOPK-Trnava, Pribinova 2, 921 01 Piestany, Czechoslovakia; tel: +42-838-22031, 838-21261 or 838-22892.


26 April 1992: Chernobyl Commemoration Day, Sydney, Australia.Anti-Nuclear Rally and Wreath Laying outside the offices of the Australian mining company Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. (ERA). Organized by Movement Against Uranium Mining (MAUM) and Friends of the Earth-Sydney. The focus is shared by a tribute to the victims of Chernobyl and a warning of what could come now that ERA is making plans to try to sell uranium to the Indonesian nuclear power plant which is to be built with Australian government cooperation. Speakers include long-time Australian activist John Hallam. Contact: FOE-Sydney, Suite 8, 134 Broadway, Sydney NSW 2007, Australia; tel: +61-2 281 4070, fax: 281-5216. MAUM, tel: +61-2 212 4538.


May 8-10: The 4th International Baltic Ecological Symposium, Gdansk, Poland. The program is: first day, socio- and philisophical aspects of ecology; second day, chemical pollution; third day, the Chernobyl catastrophe and its aftermath. The organizers of the symposium cannot cover travel costs but will provide free room and board (in a student hotel or private homes). For more information contact: Jerzy Jaskowski, Symposium Secretary, 80-215 Gdansk, Suwalska 6, Poland; tel: +48-58-47 94 90; fax: 58-47 69 01.


July 4 & 5: "Getting at the Truth", the 8th International Conference on Radiation and Health, University Medical School, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. Issues include: monitoring radiation and health, radiation hazards at home and work, and coping with nuclear accidents. Workshop sessions will provide specialist information on radiatio and monitoring, cleaning up after Chernobyl, radiation hazards including VDUs and food irradiation, and safeguarding nuclear waste. Also included: skill sharing around getting compensation, information technology, statistics, lobbying, international networks and using the media. For full details and booking: Send a stamped addressed envelope to: The Administrator, 8th International Conference on Radiation and Health, Home Farm, Bridle Path, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 5EU England; tel: +44 91 284 4250; fax: 91 261 1182 (attn: John Urquhart); E-mail: gn:mfrisch.

Regional Reports

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Special: Uranium Special Edition

(362-3.region) WISE Amsterdam -



(December 6, 1991) In the fall of 1991 there were two producing uranium mines in Australia: Ranger and Roxby Downs. The Mary Kathleen mine closed in 1982 and Nabarlek was mined out in 1981, but continued to deliver until about 1988. There is an active debate about opening new mines.

On 27 June 1991 the governing Labour Party rejected proposals to open new uranium mines and begin uranium enrichment, but only by default. The issue was not given a full debate. Existing policy means that two mines can operate, and there is the posibility of another opening.


Promises, Promises, Promises

The Promise

The environmental impact statement for the Roxby Downs uranium-gold-copper mine in South Australia predicted in 1982 that once the mine reached full production there would be 10,000 jobs, A$18-20 million (US$13.5-15 million) in royalties paid to the state, and a boost in state exports by 32 to 43%. In 1989 the mine reached its full production capacity.

The Reality

Exports increased 4%, A$3 mil-lion (US$2.15 million) were paid to the state, and 800 jobs created. The A$3 million falls well short of the interest the government has to pay on the A$50 million (US$37.5 million) it borrowed to build schools, roads and other community facilities for the mining town of Olympic Dam.


BRAZIL - Request for support


In spring of 1991, a letter was circulated among German anti-uranium groups requesting support in a campaign to stop a new uranium mining and milling project in Brazil. The project's sponsors propose to exploit a uranium deposit located near Caetite in the Brazilian state of Bahia. The project is to be directed by the state government of Bahia. Funding is to come from West Germany's government and private banks. The uranium deposit contains approxi-mately 85,000 tonnes of uranium and hopeful investors expect to realize a total of US$800 million through processing it into some 900 tonnes of yellowcake annually.

The authors of the letter are lay and religious volunteers who form the Bishop's Health Commission for the two-state North East Region of Bahia and Sergipe. Besides being concerned about health hazards to the regional population, they are also concerned about the posibility of the uranium ending up in nuclear weapons. They were informed that Brazil expects to keep 25% of the yellowcake produced and export the other 75%.

After learning of the project, commis-sion members met with an agricultural technician who works with the people in the rural area where the uranium was found. The technician, Paulo Cesar of the Center for Studies and Social Action (CEA), spent several hours clarifying the situation. He also played them a video tape showing the consequences such a project would have for the region, presenting a very different picture than that shown by the production firm Uranio do Brasil when it presented the project to the Caetite city council. The company's presentation concentrated on "develop-ment and employment" opportunities. A company employee held up a bottle of yellowcake and gave the impression that it was completely harmless. The video, however, points out that many people will become ill. It also included an interview with nuclear physicist Richard Tadeu Lopes who reported the fact that 3.8 hours of exposure registers the maximum limits on the meter that the mine technicians wear. The technicians leave the areas periodically; the other workers don't have that possibility.

The commission members want to create pressure to see that the uranium is neither mined nor milled. Other groups are already working on this as well, but commission members say they have extremely limited finan-cial and technical resources available to either examine the situation or inform the region's inhabitants. They do have a bit of time to gather the resources and information they need, however, as ideological differences existing at this moment between the federal and military governing levels has meant that the project has been put temporarily on hold.

At this point, the commissioners say in their letter, little information is available. They note that already a simple Geiger counter registers maximum radiation on some of the surface rocks in the populated area -- even before mining has begun. How-ever, there is no access to more sophisticated monitoring equipment to measure the present levels of radia-tion. Even "...specific information of health hazards in short, medium and long range in this stage are not yet available to us. To make adequate provisions for the people who live and may work in the area it is essential to have more accurate information that can be documented...Apparently... there are many studies made of the effects of uranium from the yellowcake stage on. But we do not have information of studies and effects on vegetable and human life previous to this stage." Then, too, they say, hazards created during transportation of the rocks from the mines to the mill must be evaluated.

There are several ways that support can be given to the local people in their struggle for information and quality of life, say commissioners. "The general population is unfamiliar with even basic information that you'd take for granted about uranium and radiation. To provide information, we need to be informed." Suggestions they give for helping include:

  1. Sending technical information of studies and effects of uranium in its natural state and up until the yellowcake stage.
  2. Providing technical self-financed support for investigating locally the potential hazards and necessary precautions.
  3. Providing more sophisticted monitoring devices.
  4. Providing financial support for printing material to inform the population.
  5. Informing other groups that may be able to help.
  6. Working on an international level to limit the trade in uranium.
  7. Insisting on adequate safety measures in all phases of the project, as well as adequate monitoring during all phases, if the project is approved.

Commission members also request that letters of protest be sent to:

  • Senador Nelson Carneiro, Presidente do Congresso Nacional, Brasilia, DF, Brasil.
  • Presidente: Exmo. Fernando Collor de Mello, Palacio da Alvorada, Brasilia, Brasil.
  • Presidente Conselho Estadual Meio Ambiente, Secretaria de Planejamento, Av. Luis Viana Filho 27N CAB, Slavador, Bahia, Brasil.

Information, questions or donations can be sent through: Dona Christina, Comissao de Saude NE 111 (health commission), Conferencia dos Bispos do Brasil (CNBB), Rua Augusto Franca, 35 2 dejulho, 40000 Slavador, Bahia, Brasil. Sr. Paulo Cesar, Center for Studies and Social Action, Rua Aristides Novis, 101, Federaçao, 40210 Salvador, Bahia, Brasil.



Detailed investigations have been carried out on the effects of uranium mining in Bulgaria. For example, Todor Dimtchev, physics Professor at the Geology and Mining University in Sofia has written, in French, a 21 page detailed report with monitoring data and maps.

Deposits originally discovered by German geologists started to be mined by a Russia/Bulgarian company in the fall of 1944. The grade of the ore ranges from an average of 0.01% to 0.1%. The highest grade ore was sent to the U.S.S.R.

Wastes have been dumped in old river beds and, during rainy periods, are carried downstream to villages. In villages near a uranium mining area near Sofia, dose rates have been measured of up to 1,000 micro-roentgens per hour, about 100 times the background level. Radium-226 levels in soil have been found up to 10,700 Bq/kg, more than 350 times normal. Such levels have been found in sludge from the uranium mill near Boukhovo, which received ore transported from several areas. The most contaminated land has been expropriated and access restricted.

Source: "Proceedings -- Meeting of Anti-uranium Citizens Committees in Europe, at Zwickau/Saxony 1-3 August 1991," six page English summary, pp.3-4.




The uranium mining boom in northern Saskatchewan is continuing, despite the general decline of the industry worldwide. The three uranium mills in northern Saskatchewan (Key Lake, Cluff Lake, and Rabbit Lake) together produce more uranium than anywhere else in the world, and the licensing procedure for eight new mines and four new mills is underway. The World Nuclear Industry Handbook 1991 lists total 1989 uranium produc-tion at the three mills as 7,745 tonnes and total capacity as 10,700 tonnes per year. The 1989 production for each mill is given as 875 tonnes at Cluff Lake (capacity 1,500 tonnes/year), 5,100 tonnes at Key Lake (capacity 4,600 tonnes/year), and 1,770 at Rabbit Lake (capacity 4,600 tonnes/year).

The reasons for the continuing boom in Saskatchewan are clear. It is due to the combination of high grade ore, often near the surface; low population density of predominantly Indigenous people in the area of the deposits; and the pro-mining policies of the provincial and federal governments. This last factor could change. A new provincial government was elected at the end of October 1991, putting the New Democratic Party (NDP) in power. There is currently vigorous debate on their uranium mining policy, which is a stop on opening new mines and a phase-out of existing ones when new jobs are created for the mine workers. Needless to say, the uranium industry is applying all the pressure it can to reverse the policy. The industry has already gotten assurance that the eight new mines and four new mills currently going through the licensing procedure are not "new" according to the policy definition. The NDP leadership favors a more pro-mining policy, but the grassroots has affirmed the phase-out. It will be a hot topic at next year,s NDP convention.

The grade of the ore in northern Saskatchewan is commonly between one and four percent, with pockets measured in tens of percent, but in the rest of the world ore grade is normally measured in tenths or hundredths of a percent. The vast majority of the local Indigenous people, numbering about 25,000, are against mining, but have no decision-making power over the land their ancestors have used since time immemorial. However, increasing sympathy for Indian rights, and growing opposition to the whole nuclear fuel chain in the south, is a factor politicians have to face. It is clear that Indian led protests are a main reason why two government inquiries into uranium mining in Saskatchewan were just established.

The provincial and federal govern-ments have divided the eight new mine and four new mill proposals into two groups, and for each implemented a formal examination procedure called an "Environmental Assessment Review Process" (EARP), determined primarily by the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Office (FEARO). For each review panel the governments have selected a handpicked committee (called a panel), given them a terms of reference, a general time frame, and a budget. Both panels have been given a mandate to "review the environ-mental, health, safety, and socio-economic impacts." A summary of key information on each panel is included below. Division of responsibilities between the two levels of government, coupled with the two having different policies, often makes it difficult to understand why and how decisions get made. One thing is certain though, there would be no review at all if it wasn't for pressure from public opposition groups.

An example of this is the situation with the Cigar Lake project. Its over 100 million kg of uranium at an average grade of 15%, pockets as high as 60%, and an estimated further 50 million kg at an average grade of 4.7%, make it the most significant deposit ever discovered anywhere. The mine has already reached the initial stage of mining (called "test" mining) without any public review at all. It is owned partly by the federal and Saskatchewan governments, who now, after a huge investment, have established an inquiry to determine if the mine should be allowed to proceed or not! Such action can only be due to political pressure.

uranium mining in canada - click to enlarge

A further indication of the political power struggles going on is the lack of provincial participation in the Rabbit Lake panel, and division of all the proposed projects into two groups. The Rabbit Lake panel is federally run, but the other is managed cooperatively between the federal and Saskatchewan governments. The Saskatchewan government already at the end of 1987 approved construction of the three new mines planned under and on the edge of Wollaston Lake, near the Rabbit Lake mill. Even before this approval, much work beyond the exploration stage had been carried out on the three mines. Further, approval was given despite the fact that the Rabbit Lake mill, ever since it began operating, has consistently exceeded the dumping limits for heavy metals and radionuclides specified in its licence.

Of greater political sensitivity is the fact that Indian people of the Wollaston Lake region have spoken against uranium mining since it started in the late 1970's. In 1985, local Indian people, together with a small group of Southern supporters, blocked the road into the Rabbit Lake mill for four days. One of the Indian peoples' requests at that time was an inquiry examining effects of all the mines together. At least three of the five mines under examination by the federal/provincial panel are within the Wollaston Lake drainage basin. To determine the effects of mining on Wollaston Lake, the cumulative effect of all the proposed mines within its drainage basin must be examined together, not separately. The reluc-tance of some government bureaucrats to invite Wollaston residents to another public hearing on uranium mining is a sign of the government trying to back away from a fight. Agreement by the Saskatchewan government to participate in the federal/provincial panel can be seen as a compromise between an examination of all the mines together and no examination at all.

Cameco corporation, formed in 1988, is the world's single greatest uranium producer. The company is owned 61.5% by the federal government of Canada and 38.5% by the province of Saskatchewan. It should be no surprise then that the public review process is set up in a way that allows only token public participation. Some obvious examples are:

  • there was no public participation in making the terms of reference or choice of the panel members;
  • only people who have not been "politically active" were eligible to be panel members (clearly a bias towards acceptance of the status quo -- mining);
  • there is no moratorium on mine development during the review process; no limits are put on the mining companys' ground disturbing activity;
  • the time frame for submitting participant funding applications and for critical examination of the EIS's is short, even for the highly educated; and
  • important documents are not translated into Cree and Chipeweyan, the Native languages of the region.

Even with these inadequacies, the government reviews are better than nothing. The small amount of money available for participant funding, and all the media attention, provide much greater opportunities to spread critical information than without the review panels, even when the mining advocates have vastly greater resources (much of it public money) to mobilize. Further, it is important to recognize that not all government bureaucrats agree with the official pro-mining, anti-public participation policy.

The decisions of the panels are not binding. However, both have been asked to determine whether or not mining should be allowed to proceed. A couple million dollars does not need to be spent to reach a conclusion.

The impacts of mining are not always black and white, but there are three main aspects that are:

  1. Uranium mining in Saskatchewan is a colonial activity. It has been forced upon the people of the North. The Indian people whose ancestors have always lived in the mining areas do not have decision-making authority over industrial activity in their ancestral home. If they could decide, those Indians that would choose mining are without a doubt an extremely small minority. Further, many Natives feel that mining is a contravention of the Treaties signed in good faith by their ancestors. It was understood that their lifestyle would not be threatened.
  2. Uranium cannot be mined without producing huge quantities of liquid and solid waste at the mining and milling sites. These wastes contaminate a certain amount of land with heavy metals, radionuclides, and process chemicals. There is no debate over whether or not such contami-nation exists, but rather, how big an area it covers.
  3. Most of the raw material, yellowcake, ultimately becomes spent nuclear reactor fuel, one of the most dangerous materials on Earth, and may be used to make nuclear weapons.

Out of respect to fellow human beings, the panel members have to be given the opportunity to make their own conclusions. They should be given the benefit of the doubt. After all, the details are complex. It should be assumed that they really haven't made up their minds whether uranium mining is good or bad. Among the members of each of the panels is a mining engineer and a northern Native person. But, having mining engineering as an occupation doesn't necessarily mean one is pro-uranium mining, nor does being a Native person mean that one is automatically against uranium mining. However, once the hearings are held and the investigations carried out, no panel member will be able to dispute that a decision on uranium mining in Saskatchewan is also a decision on colonialism and the production of *nuclear waste (be it mine tailings or spent fuel).

The past three government reviews of proposed uranium mines in Saskatchewan (Cluff Lake, Key Lake, and Collin's Bay "B" Zone) have all endorsed mining, and contributed much free engineering help to the companies. Other reviews, outside of Saskatchewan have, however, con-cluded that the projects in question should not go ahead. Separate federal environmental assessment panels have rejected construction of uranium refineries near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1978 (at Warman), and in 1980 at Port Granby, Ontario. Also, in May 1990, the review panel examining the Kiggavik uranium mine proposal near Baker Lake in the Northwest Territories, concluded that the environmental impact statement (EIS) was inadequate and that the company must provide more information. The German owned company, Urangesellschaft Canada Ltd., has not yet resubmitted it's EIS.

Further, some of the planned uranium mines may not be able to meet new radiation exposure guidelines proposed by Canada's nuclear regulatory agency, the Atomic Energy Control Board. Adequate radiological protection in high-grade, underground mines, like Cigar Lake and Eagle Point, may be too expensive. The technology required to mine these deposits safely has not been proven anywhere. The industry has admitted it is unclear whether the new operations can proceed under the proposed limits.

There is some hope. Perhaps the panel members won't let themselves be used as token expressions of public participation. Perhaps some panel members will show respect for Indian land rights and point out the illegality of the Treaties. Perhaps one or two will make dissenting reports and declare that mining should not proceed. Perhaps a single panel member will listen to the beat of the Earth, not the beat of the dollar.


  1. Shuttle, Paul. 1991. "Speaking Out About Uranium Mining: How to participate in the joint federal/provincial environmental assessment of the proposed uranium mine developments in northern Saskatchewan." 7 pp. Available from Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (ICUC).
  2. Goldstick, Miles. 1987. "Voices From Wollaston Lake, Resistance Against Uranium Mining And Genocide In Northern Saskatchewan." 316 pp. European edition by Earth Embassy and WISE. ISBN: 90-70702-08-8. Canadian edition under the title "Wollaston, People Resisting Genocide," published by Black Rose Books, 3981 Boulevard St. Laurent 4th flr., Montreal, Quebec, Canada. H2W 1Y5; ISBN: 0-920057-94-2 (bound), ISBN: 0-920057-95-0 (pbk.).
  3. Saskatoon Star-Pheonix, 15 October 1991, page A-8; 16 October 1991, page D-1; and 18 November 1991, page A-3.


On the initiative of the Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (ICUC), a coalition of anti-uranium mining groups through-out Saskatchewan was formed to make joint applications for intervener funding for the two panels.

For initial administration costs, ICUC received a CDN$500 grant from the Lutheran Peace Fellowship (LPF) in the United States. Technical support in writing the application was given by Radioactive Waste Management Associates in New York City. Research priority was put on the longterm environmental impacts of tailings from existing mines, and projections for new mines.

The coalition includes:

  • The Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative,
  • The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas, * The Northern Village of Green Lake, * The International Uranium Congress (Regina),
  • Community Health Services (Saskatoon) Assoc.,
  • Big River Citizen's for Energy Alternatives,
  • Pokebusters Citizen's Coalition, and
  • The Regina Environmental Group.

The addresses of these groups are included in the international contact list.

ICUC has made new contacts in Northern Canada. Encouraging news is that the five Northern Canadian Roman Catholic Diocese's have decided to cooperate on social justice issues. Those contacted by ICUC asked to be kept informed.



The premiere of a new National Film Board Of Canada (NFB) documentary film called "Uranium" was held in Edmonton, Alberta on 12 October 1990 (international day of solidarity with Indigenous people). It immediately caused an uproar in the uranium industry, some members of which had urged the NFB to stop production of the film and tried to have it banned. The NFB knew the film would be controversial. Lawyers and scientists carefully examined every detail, which accounted for a long production delay.

The focus of "Uranium" is the perspective of Indigenous people effected by mining. Several native people are interviewed from the uranium mining areas of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Northwest Territories (NWT). The film is narrated by the Saskatchewan born singer Buffy St. Marie.

Janet Feitz, an elderly Cree trapper from La Ronge, Saskatchewan says in the film, "I guess they don't see us as people. Maybe they see us as another stick of wood standing there, or something. They don't seem to care. What would they feel if some-one went over there to where they live and destroyed their livelihood..."

The 48 minute color production is available in 16 mm and video format. North American format VHS video copies cost about CDN$30. European format VHS video copies cost approximately CDN$300 (yes that's "$300" not "$30"), and can be ordered from Jane Taylor, NFB representative at the Canadian Embassy in London, England (tel. 44-71-629-9492; fax: 44-71-491-3968). A four page leaflet and collection of newspaper clippings are available from the Edmonton NFB address below. The leaflet includes five photos and a map of uranium mining areas in Canada. On the front page Dr. Helen Caldicott is quoted as saying, "'Uranium' is one of the most powerful recent films that I have seen. I'm appalled, in the light of the medical knowledge of both nuclear power and nuclear war, that Canadian uranium mining continues."

Source and contact: Muriel Stanley Venne, Marketing Officer, Community Program, NFB, 120-2 Canada Place, 9700 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. T5J 4C3. Tel. 1-403-495-3012. Fax: 1-403-495-6412.


Key Information on the Saskatchewan Uranium Review Panels

Uranium Development Panel (five mines and four mills)

  • Government involvement: federal and province of Saskatchewan.
  • Part of terms of reference showing narrowness:
    "The Panel is not expected to interpret its mandate so as to duplicate the work of other public inquiries and policy processes or to focus on national or international issues which are not directly related to the impacts of the proposals. "However, concerns may be raised by the public which extend beyond the impacts of direct concern to the Panel, and in such cases the Panel will ensure that the public is provided a reasonable opportunity to express these concerns."
  • Mines examined (EIS's already submitted for the first three): * Dominique-Janine Extension at Cluff Lake (Amok Ltd.) * McClean Lake Project (Minatco Ltd.), including a new mill, * Midwest Joint Venture at South McMahon Lake (Denison Mines Ltd.), including a new mill, * McArthur River Joint Venture (Cameco Corp.), including a new mill, and * Cigar Lake Project (Cigar Lake Mining Corp.), including a new mill.
  • Budget: about CDN$1.5 million.
  • Time frame: to be completed in two to four years, or 18 months after receipt of all the EIS's (two are not yet submitted); final reports for the first three proposals are expected by December 1992; public hearings are expected to begin in the summer of 1992; the deadline for participant funding applications was 17 October 1991.
  • Participant funding: CDN$350,000, of which $200,000 is for reviewing the first three EIS's and public meetings for the other two projects. The remaining $150,000 is for review of the final two EIS's.
  • Stages of review: Submission of EIS's by the companies for the first three projects (already completed); public review and written comment of the three EIS's (expected to begin in early December 1991); and public hearings (locations not yet announced) on the three proposals. In parallel with the above for the other two projects: public hearings (locations not yet announced); issuing guidelines for preparation of EIS's; submission of EIS's by the companies; public review and written comment of the EIS's.
  • Panel members: * Chair: Dr. Donald Lee organic chemist and Chairman of the Chemistry Department, University of Regina, * John Dantouze, member of the Hatchet Lake Band, Wollaston Lake (in northern Saskatchewan), and Athabasca Bands Community Planning Advisor for the Prince Albert Tribal Council, * Dr. James Archibald, mining engineer and Associate Professor, Mining Engineering Department, Queen's University, * Dr. Annalee Yassi, epidemiologist and community medicine and occupational health specialist, University of Manitoba, and * Dr. B. Richard Neal, Professor of Biology specializing in population ecology, University of Saskatchewan.
  • Contact addresses (collect calls accepted): Ghislaine Kerry, Participant Funding Program Coordinator, FEARO, 13th Floor, Fontaine Building, 200 Sacre-Coeur Blvd., Hull, Quebec K1A 0H3. Tel. 1-819-953-0179/997-1000. Fax: 1-819-994-1469.
    Gail Anderson, Project Coordinator, Saskatchewan Environment and Public Safety, 3085 Albert St., Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0B1. Tel. 1-306-787-0785. Fax: 1-306-787-0930.

Rabbit Lake Panel (three mines)

  • Government involvement: federal.
  • Part of terms of reference showing narrowness:
    "The mandate of the panel does not include a review of the relative merits of the various means of generating electricity or the policies of the governments of Canada or Saskatchewan concerning uranium mining, uranium exports and nuclear proliferation."
  • Mines examined: * Eagle Point Mine, and * Collin's Bay "A" and "D" Zones.
  • Budget: about CDN$0.5 million.
  • Time frame: to be completed by summer 1992; deadline for participant funding applications is 3 January 1992.
  • Participant funding: CDN$125,000.
  • Stages of review: public review and written comment of the EIS's; possible request of additional information from the companies; and public hearing (locations not yet announced).
  • Panel members: * Chair: Dr. Kenneth W. Hindmarsh, Assistant Dean of the College of Pharmacy, University of Saskatchewan, * Mr. Charles W. Pelley, Assistant Professor, Department of Mining Engineering, Queen's University; he has extensive experience in the mining industry and has held a number of senior positions with Canadian mining companies, * Dr. Dennis Lehmkuhl, Professor of Biology, Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, and * Dr. Ronald Martin, member of the Fond-du-lac Band (in northern Saskatchewan), dentist, actively providing dental care to Native people.
  • Contact address (collect calls accepted): Ghislaine Kerry, Participant Funding Program Coordinator, FEARO, 13th Floor, Fontaine Building, 200 Sacre-Coeur Blvd., Hull, Quebec K1A 0H3. Tel. 1-819-953-0179/997-1000. Fax: 1-819-994-1469.



ICUC urges groups outside of Canada to can get involved in the Saskatchewan environmental review process and participate in the hearings. To do this, contact the FEARO office at the address below. Groups should get on the FEARO mailing list as soon as possible to be made aware of dates and locations of the hearings. Critical scientists are especially requested to make their services available directly to the panels, who pay technical "experts" well. The terms of reference of both panels read:

"The Panel may secure the services of independent technical experts to assist and advise on complex technical and/or socioeconomic issues related to its mandate. Such experts will also be available to respond to inquiries from review participants."

ICUC requests that they be sent copies of correspondence with FEARO. The FEARO and ICUC addresses are:

  • Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative, Phillip Penna, Coordinator, Box 7724, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7K 4R4. Tel. 1-306-934-3030. Fax: 1-306-652-8377.
  • Saskatchewan Uranium Development Panel, Room 420, 1955 Smith St., Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S4P 2N8. Tel. 1-306-780-8251. Fax: 1-306-780-8250.
  • Rabbit Lake Panel, John McEwen, FEARO, 13th Floor, Fontaine Building, 200 Sacre-Coeur Boulevard, Hull, Quebec, Canada K1A 0H3. Tel. 819-953-8797. Fax: 819-994-1469.

As well, ICUC asks that groups write the Saskatchewan Government asking that the anti-uranium mining policy be strengthened. Please write to:
Roy Romanow, Premier of Saskatchewan, Premier's Office, Legislative Building, Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0P3.



Czecho-Slovakia has been the second largest producer of uranium in Eastern Europe. A number of mines and at least three mills have produced about 2,200 tonnes per year. Produc-tion declined after the Soviet Union ceased to be the major customer. There are plans to continue operation of one uranium mill only (Straz pod Ralskem) for domestic nuclear power plant needs.

Following the revolution the MAPE uranium mill was the subject of intense press coverage after Austrian ecologists found elevated radiation levels in the area around the mill. The mill, located near Budweis, has an annual production of 500 tonnes. At this mill ore has been processed from the West German Großschloppen mine, and from the Menzenschwand mine after closure of the Ellweiler mill in May 1989. Several accidents and grossly negligent procedures during the early operation of the MAPE mill have been uncovered. A detailed investigation by the Ecology Institute in Vienna has confirmed suspicions that protective measures for retaining radioactive waste are insufficient. The mill tailings basins are not water-proof, and radioactive waste water is released into a creek that flows into a lake used for swimming. Radium concentrations of up to 800,000 Bq/kg have been found in areas with unrestricted access.

Source: "Proceedings -- Meeting of Anti-uranium Citizens Committees in Europe, at Zwickau/Saxony 1-3 August 1991," six page English summary, pp.2-3.




With an annual production of over 3000 tonnes of uranium, France is the largest producer in Europe. There are currently about 14 operating uranium mines, mainly in the Massif Central area. The "World Nuclear Industry Handbook 1991" lists nine uranium mills with "operable" status, one "planned", and four "shut down or on standby". Uranium from the now closed West German Menzenschwand mine was milled in France. The low world price for uranium has also effected the mines in France. Several mines have closed and further shutdowns have been announced.

France is one of the only countries in Europe where, for more than a decade, there has been a nationwide citizen's movement against uranium mining. More than 100 local committees have formed a national network. The network publishes its own newsletter, analyzes many newspapers and publications, manages a documentation center, offers a rental service for radiation monitoring equipment, and holds seminars on legal action against uranium mining.

The anti-uranium movement in France has focused on the struggle to stop new mines from opening. Little attention has been given to the hazards of operating mines and mills and abandoned mine and mill wastes. However, there was an immediate reaction against proposals to dump radioactive waste from nuclear power plants in former uranium mines.

Also, a new uranium tailings regulatory problem has recently been uncovered. At least six uranium mine tailings piles in France contain levels of radium above that legally allowed by their government authorization. This is documented in the November/December 1991 issue of "Info Uranium," published by a French environmental group with the same name. All tailings piles in France must be licensed. Piles with more than 37 trillion becquerals (TBq) (1,000 curies) are put in the category of "basic nuclear installations." Facilities in this category are required to make a safety report, investigate impacts, and have public participation during the licensing process. In the spring of 1991, the independent radiation mon-itoring group CRII-RAD found that the Lavaugrasse tailings pile contains 141 TBq, and the Brugeaud pile 125 TBq, though do not have "basic nuclear installation" licences. Both are located at the Bessines-sur-Gartempe uranium mill site near Limoges (Haute Vienne). The mill is operated by SIMO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cogema and has an annual capacity of 1,500 tonnes (1989 production was 1,000 tonnes). The radium content of these piles and their licensing status was confirmed by a French govern-ment report published in July 1991. The report notes that four other tailings piles exceed the 37 TBq limit and are not properly licensed. CRII-RAD and other anti-nuclear organizations are now trying to get the proper licensing procedures implemented.


  • "Proceedings -- Meeting of Anti-uranium Citizens Committees in Europe, at Zwickau/Saxony 1-3 August 1991," six page English summary, p.2.
  • Info Uranium, No.53, Nov./Dec. 1991, pp.16-17.
  • The government report noted (in French only): "Rapport de la Commission d'examen des dépóts de matières radioactives," juillet 1991; available free of charge from: Ministère de l'Industrie, 101, rue de Grenelle, F-75700 Paris Cedex, France.




The Wismut mining company has produced about 200 million tonnes of solid waste. There is serious groundwater contamination and the stability of tailings dams is questionable. In some cases, toxic industrial waste has been dumped on top of the tailings.

(For further information on Wismut, see WISE News Communique's 340.3400, 341.3416, 344.3444 and 346.3467.)



By Peter Diehl

The Thuringian uranium province in the Ronneburg area (near Gera) is located in the center of highest earthquake risk in the whole of Eastern Germany. Evidence of this was presented at a conference on earthquakes and civil engineering held in January 1991 at Potsdam. The last major reported earthquake in the area was on 6 March 1872, and had an intensity of 7.5 on the MSK-scale (Medvedev, Sponheuer, Karnik). At an intensity of seven, cracks in walls and chimneys are observed. At an intensity of eight, large cracks in masonry are observed and parts of gables and roof ledges collapse. The intensity of the maximum credible earthquake for this area is predicted at 8.5.

Earthquakes of these intensities do not present the risk of total damage to buildings, and the influence on tailings dams is uncertain but is a risk that needs to be considered. There are dams in the area holding back a liquid and solid sludge containing up to 86 million tonnes of solid waste. The dam embankments themselves are made from tailings material, which contain a high percentage of liquid, thus contributing to instability. In some situations, collapse of a dam would result in a large spill that would bury small villages where several hundred people live. Some villages are located immediatly at the foot of tailings embankments, only meters away. In these areas groundwater is contami-nated and fresh water is piped in.

An additional hazard is that tailings dams are located directly on geologic faults. This is because the uranium was found in geologic fault zones. The tailings have been placed in the mined out open pits and embankments added above ground. During an earthquake, differential movement along a fault can occur, which could cause cracks and even collapse of an embankment.

To determine the risk of dam failure, detailed field studies need to be carried out. Little data on these dams is presently available. To move the tailings to a safer area would require a huge effort and great expense. In the U.S., the largest tailings pile moved had a size of about a few million tonnes




Uranium mining in Hungary is concentrated in the area around the city of Pécs at the foot of the Mecsek mountains in the southern part of the country. Annual production is about 500 tonnes of uranium. The future of this mine is uncertain since the main customer, the U.S.S.R., stopped buying. An Irish company, Glencar Explorations, has for some time held an option to continue the operation at reduced employment, but no contract has been signed. The economics are not attractive due to the low grade of the ore. At the site there has been heap leaching of low grade ores, where a liquid (called a leaching agent) is allowed to seep through piles of ore, and the uranium rich liquid collected at the bottom. Contami-nation of groundwater by the leaching agent is one source of contamination. Another is radioactive dust blown over adjacent residential areas. The slurry from conventional ore proces-sing is dumped in large holding ponds with a total surface area of about two square km. Here also, radioactive dust is blown into the surrounding area and groundwater is contaminated. Elevated radon levels have been found in homes nearby and investi-gations are underway to determine if this is due to use of radioactive waste as construction material.


  • "Proceedings -- Meeting of Anti-uranium Citizens Committees in Europe, at Zwickau/Saxony 1-3 Aug. 1991," six page English summary, p.2.
  • See also: "Hungary: glasnost reaches uranium mines," - WISE News Communique 340.3404, 19 October 1990, p.7




The only exploitable uranium deposits in India are in and near Jaduguda in Singhbhum district. The deposits already exhausted there had an average grade of 0.06%, which makes it one of the worst grades mined in the world. Now, even lower grade ore is being mined, at only 0.02%.

The World Nuclear Industry Handbook 1991 lists four uranium mills in India. All have "operable" status and are operated by Uranium Corporation of India, Ltd. (UCIL). The 1989 production at Jaduguda is given as 115 tonnes uranium, and the 1989 production at the other three mills, Mosaboni, Rakha, and Surda, is given as 15 tonnes uranium each. These three mills produce copper as a by-product. According to Anumukti, a mill bigger than the one at Jaduguda is under construction nearby at Turamdih. The mines in the Jaduguda area are underground.

The following two articles and "New Deposit" notice are edited versions reprinted from Anumukti, A Journal Devoted To Non-Nuclear India, Vol.5, Number 1, August/September 1991. The mining areas described are operated by UCIL


By Ms. Manimala Dharmayug, 4 March 1990.

Go to the mines of Jaduguda
From where come the uranium loads
See how it is carried in open trucks, and falls in middle of roads.
Go the reactors of RAPP
How radiation has spread!
Look at the workers of Tarapur
How they have been mislead.
Very frightening, very frightening, very frightening indeed
Is the Maya of atomic energy.


There was a time when Jaduguda used to be a place of scenic beauty. There were dense green forests, low mountains, small villages surrounded by hills, hardworking people, playful and ever smiling children, open air, and flowing streams. It was once so beautiful there!

But they had one more thing -- uranium in the womb of mother Earth. Exploring man got to know of this, then atomic man had to grab it at all costs. The bowels of the Earth were torn open and digging and ever more digging was done to get the uranium out. The hunger of nuclear reactors for uranium was satisfied but the people of 1,200 neighboring vil-lages have become both hungry and naked. People whose sustenance was the forest, became dispossessed. Jun-gles were destroyed, hills became bar-ren, and the people became powerless.

Prohibited Area
Existence of the uranium deposits was discovered in the 1950's. In 1967, uranium mining and processing equip-ment was moved in. Along with the equipment came operating workers, mining scientists, and officials -- all from the outside. Buildings and houses were constructed. Those who came without houses, got new homes, and those that had lived there for generations became homeless. Some of the homeless went to distant hills, some to Naroana, some wandered around and are still wandering.

This green, self-contained Adivasi (aboriginal) village in the Singbhum district of Bihar became part of the mainstream of development. Cars and other vehicles started going back and forth from the Rakha mining station to Jaduguda. The air became filled with smoke and the clean Gura river became dirty. About 1,200 villages were consumed and Jaduguda became an industrial township. Today this place provides the uranium for all the Indian reactors with the exception of Tarapur.

Those villages and people who refused to be displaced in the beginning are now slowly being squeezed out. Radioactive pollution is increasing rapidly. However, as yet, even after 24 years, there are no local monitoring stations to measure the pollution.

The waste from the uranium mill is transported through a long pipe to the tailings pond. This pond covers an area of 3.6 square km. The pipe leaks from breaks in a number of places. Waste water has spread far and wide. A population of nearly 5,500 people are suffering from this water pollution. Chati Kocha, Rani Kocha, Dungardih, Lakhi, Talaitand and other villages are dependent on the waters of a lake which is posted with a sign in English reading, "Prohibited Area." The villagers do not understand English but they do understand and know that the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat are all contaminated.

An Epidemic Of Deformities
The village in the immediate vicinity of the tailings pond is Chati Kocha. A little farther is Rani Kocha. The total population of these two villages combined is about 500, of which about 100 are children. A survey of the children found that two are completely blind, six can only see dimly, four are hearing impaired, and eight are mentally retarded. Half the women complained of white discharge and 47% complained of early and frequent menses. In the last five years, eight women gave birth to deformed children that died within a week of birth. In these five years there were more than 30 spontaneous abortions. All the women complain of fatigue, weakness and depression. Half the men too complain of tiredness and depression. The amount of lympho-cytes in the blood of 54% of the people are quite high, indicating a disposition towards cancer.

The conditions of the children and plant workers are terrible. Seven year old Manoj has both his legs turned outwards below the knees. He cannot walk properly. Eight year old Mani's left arm is only of elbow length. Eight year old Shiv and nine year old Tulsi are thalesimia patients and require frequent blood transfusions. Munna, who is twelve, suffers from mega-colon. He can neither speak nor walk, nor do anything with his hands.

Elders of the area say that earlier it wasn't like this. Those families which have had deformed babies had not seen a case of deformity for at least five generations. Thus, the general public opinion in the area is that all these illnesses and deformities are due to uranium mining and processing.

Official Claims
UCIL says that radioactivity is spreading slowly and is well within internationally accepted "safe limits." According to officials, the amount of uranium found in the ore is only 0.04- 0.06%. The administration officials claim that once uranium is extracted from the uranite, the remaining por-tion of the ores are not radioactive. The wastes contain only 0.005 milli-grams per liter of uranium. Water after use is thrown into the Gura river which flows into the Subarnarekha. The pollution from Jaduguda thus spreads all over Singbhum.

Before the mines were built, UCIL planners gave a clear warning that the wastes should not be exposed un-tended and neither should they be released to the rivers. Till now the UCIL administration has been lying that the radioactivity posed no risk at all but now plans are afoot to set up an effluent treatment plant at the cost of 10 million rupees (approximately US$2.58 million). This is being done after an investigation by central authorities and the International Committee for Radiological Protection. It is due to this pressure that attempts are now being made to stop the waste water from reaching the Subarnarekha.

While the UCIL management doesn't accept the fact that radioactivity has in any way been harmful to either people, animals, trees or plants, the high officials have made arrangements for their own food to come from a government farm about 44 km away.

A Dump For Outside Waste
Radioactive waste from the Nuclear Fuel complex at Hyderabad and the Variable Energy Cyclotron Center at Calcutta is also dumped here in the pond. Earlier this waste was kept in Hyderabad, but in 1982 four workers died while working in the midst of this waste. At that time there was strong protest from neighboring residents against waste storage in the vicinity. It was after this that the waste began to be sent to Jaduguda.



By Suren Raut, Sampoorna Kranti Vidyalaya-Vedchhi, India.

It was hot, humid, typical monsoon weather, but there had been no showers. After the long walk I felt very thirsty. In the distance was a farmer taking out young rice saplings for later transplantation. "Could I have a drink of water?" I asked. "You will have to go to my home," he answered.

We walked along the side of a large pond, almost a lake, with lovely lush green scenery. There were cattle grazing in the grass on the banks at one end of the pond. The farmer told me, "You can't drink the water from this pond. It is poisonous, gives you TB. It is lucky that you came here after the rains. During the summer the water dries up and the dust blows in the hot winds. It is terrible. One is thirsty all the time."

By the side of the pond is a small village named Dungardih. There are about 25 houses there. I saw a well and walked towards it. The farmer exclaimed, "No! No! Don't drink water from there. It is also poisonous. The only water you can drink here is tap water supplied by the company."

"What about your animals? What do they drink?" I enquired. "What can the poor creatures do? They drink the poisonous water from the pond," was the answer.

Most of the men have gone to work, which means employment with the company in the mines or mill. Farming is not considered "work". Only the "unfit" and unemployed do it.

I saw some children playing in a field and joined them. They looked very weak, with thin, emaciated arms and legs. Sanatan Mardi, better known by his nickname Daman, studies in the second standard. He was born with no fingers or toes. His mother called me over to her hut and told me, "I have lost five children. They were very weak and all died within a few days of birth. My only hope and support is Daman."

A 25 year old young man, named Mohan, from a neighboring hut told me, "I am 'unfit'. I worked for just three months. My younger brother still works in the mill. It is the air. That is what makes us unfit. My father died three years ago after being declared unfit."

"How do you know that your younger brother won't get unfit?" I asked. "Our health is bound to become bad, but what are we to do? One has to eat. We know that it is more dangerous to work in uranium mines than in other mines. Look at Ghasia Majhi. He has a tumor in his neck. And there is my neighbor Hoding Majhi. He has been sitting for the last five years at home after being declared unfit. His toes have had to be amputated. But why look at this village alone? Go to any village where there is a uranium mine -- Bhatin, Surdha, Narua, Rakha, Bhusabani -- you find the same thing everywhere. There are skin diseases, pain in the stomach, TB, cancer, pain in the joints. Terrible weakness and pain, that is our lot."

"What about a hospital? Where do you go for treatment?" "There is a hospital run by the company just near the mill (at Jaduguda). But there is no govern-ment hospital. This one is only meant for company employees. Some local people also go there, but it is very expensive. Most of us go to the government hospital at Tatanagar (40 km away)."

In the morning I got a ride in a truck to the Bhatin mines. True to the description in Narayanbhai's song, there are open trucks that drive underneath a loading shed. Loading is done by automatic loaders. A button is pressed and a huge load of broken rock descends from the roof into the truck. It does this three times before a truck is full. Sometimes small lumps of ore fall by the side. The driver or his "cleaner" just pick them up and toss them over into the truck. Nobody wears any gloves or protective clothing. I asked a worker about this and was told, "The company does give uniforms but we can't wash them everyday. Some leave them in the changing rooms while others take them home. Masks are available but not for everybody."


New Deposit

A major deposit of uranium has been found at Domiasiat, 140 km south-west of Shillong in north-east India. It is claimed that the deposit is "the largest, richest, near-surface and low-cost sandstone type uranium deposit discovered in India so far." The ore is spread over a 10 square km area at depths varying from eight to 47 meters from the surface. Six layers of varying dimensions with grades up to 0.41% uranium oxide have been delineated by drilling.
Indian Express, 13 August 1991.

Next to the Bhatin mines is a tailings pond. Waste water from the mines and the mill after uranium extraction are poured there. There is no "security," not even a barbed wire fence. The tailings have become hard like stone. I met a youth walking nearby. He showed me around and said, "Many people come here. We talk to them. We tell them our sorrows. They take photographs. They go away. But there is no change in our conditions. Is anyone working to help us? Can you do anything to change our miserable lot?"

On my way back to Tatanagar I kept thinking of his words. They reminded me of one of Narayanbhai's songs:

"There is a struggle going on today between the forces of death and the powers of life."

The terrible situation faced by the poor Adivasis of Jaduguda -- a situation not of their making -- is a problem of survival for them. But is this a problem that they have to face and solve alone? Is it not a problem of the entire human race?

"When will justice come to Athens?"
They asked Thucydides.
And he answered,
"Justice will not come to Athens
until those who are not injured
are as indignant as those who are."


The World Nuclear Industry Handbook 1991 lists two uranium mills in Japan, both with "shut down or on stand-by" status. One is at Ningyo-Toge and has a capacity of 50 tonnes per year production with ore as feed. There is about 200,000 cubic meters of uranium tailings at the three mines in the Ningyo-Toge vicinity. It would take about one million 200-liter drums to hold this volume. The second mill is at the Nio Institute for Uranium Recovery from Seawater (NIURES). This mill was decommis-sioned in March 1990, and had a capacity of 10 kg uranium per year using seawater as feed.

High incidence of deaths from lung cancer have been observed among miners and local residents living near former uranium mines in Tottori Prefecture. The mines were operated by the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (DONEN) in the late 1950's and early 1960's. During 1957-61, about 150 miners worked in the mine. Kyodo News Service sources say that more than ten miners and residents in the vicinity have died of cancer. Of these, seven had lung cancer.

DONEN claimed that there was no relationship between the uranium mines and lung cancer. Many residents, however, spoke not only about the high rate of cancer in the area, but charged that the corporation did not warn about the dangers of radiation before the miners began working. Nor did the corporation require the miners to wear protective masks. DONEN countered that it did provide the masks, but a promotional pamphlet issued by the company contains photographs of T-shirt clad miners working in the mine without wearing masks.


  • Anumukti, Vol. 5, N.1, August/September 1991, p. 7.
  • Nuke Info Tokyo, March/April 1989, No.10


Uranium deposits in Poland are located only in the west in the Sudetic mountains. There, polymetal ore deposits formed in large complexes of metamorphous rocks. It is known that these deposits were exploited already in the 13th century, mainly for copper and iron, but also for gold and silver. Before World War II, when Germany governed the northern, Silesian part of the Sudetes, uranium mining was started on a small scale at Grzemiaca, 20 km from Walbryzch. In 1945, the Soviets expanded this uranium mine and opened others at two locations: Kowary (known since the middle-ages for mining) and Klento, near Stronie Slaskie at the foot of the Schneeberg mountain. Ore was exported irregu-larly to the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1950, then regularly until 1954. The deposits were mined out by the end of the 1970's.

Everything concerning uranium was "top secret". Soviet, and a few Polish, "experts" and secret police were the only ones with access to information. Diseases were kept secret by false registration and diagnosis, although the relation between health problems and work in the mines was known. In the Kowary area, tailings piles are in and around villages. Krzysztof R. Mazurski writes about Kowary that, "The following effects can be clearly seen: a high disease and mortality rate from cancers of various organs and leukemia, the short lifetime of miners -- the majority of whom are already dead, various hereditary diseases, and increased mortality of small children."

Two official inquiries looking at the Grzemiaca uranium mine are under-way. Both are being carried out by the Polish Agency for Atomic Affairs. One is investigating the levels of radiation and the extent of radiation related illness in the area. The other is examining allegations that the hazards have been covered up for 40 years. The results of a government health study known to have been carried out are still not public. About 26,000 Polish people are estimated to have worked in the mines. The workers were mostly young men and military conscripts who got a little more pay than doing military service. Rock samples were hand carried to radia-tion monitors to determine where to mine. There are stories of monitoring personnel running out of the room when workers came in with high grade samples.


  1. Jersy Jaskowski, M.D., Adres prywatny, Gdansk Wrzeszcz, ul. Suwalska 6, Poland. Home tel. and fax: 47 94 90. Work tel. 32 33 22.
  2. Mazurski, Krzysztof R. 25 September 1991. "The Problem of Uranium Mining in Poland." 1 p.
  3. Rich, Vera. 1991. "Poland Searches for Uranium Casualties." One-third page. In: New Scientist, 27 July 1991, p.14.
  4. Both (2) and (3) are reprinted in: "Proceedings -- Meeting of Anti-uranium Citizens Committees in Europe, at Zwickau/Saxony 1-3 August 1991."


Little information is available on uranium mining in Rumania. The ecological movement MER has made a video of the Crucia uranium mine, located in the north of the country in the Bukovina area. Inadequate protec-tion measures are seen for workers employed with transport and loading and unloading of ore. The dumping of waste into surface water is also documented.

Source: "Proceedings -- Meeting of Anti-uranium Citizens Committees in Europe, at Zwickau/Saxony 1-3 August 1991," six page English summary, p.3.


According to a May 1991 statement by officials of Spain's Empresa Nacional del Uranio SA (ENUSA), a uranium mill it is constructing will be completed in 1992. The plant will produce 950 tonnes U3O8 per year. It is located at Saelices el Chico in the province of Salamanca near the Portuguese border. The site is close to uranium mines operated by ENUSA. The project is funded by the European Community, to a sum of US$38 million.

Source: Nuclear Fuel, 27 May 1991; reprinted in: "Proceedings -- Meeting of Anti-uranium Citizens Committees in Europe, at Zwickau/Saxony 1-3 August 1991."



Reclamation of uranium mill wastes in the U.S. may be the "best of the worst" tailings management in the world. However, reclamation proce-dures used in the U.S. are not neces-sarily applicable to other parts of the world. Further, the aspects of reclama-tion dealt with here are only part of the clean-up problem. Not discussed are ways of getting vegetation to grow on covered tailings piles without long-term, regular addition of fertilizers; diversion of fish and other wildlife from contaminated zones: and meth-ods of downstream water purification.

In 1978, the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA) was passed by Congress in the U.S. to manage reclamation of uranium mill tailings. In the health and environ-mental standards for inactive sites it is stated, "Control shall be designed to be effective for up to one thousand years, to the extent reasonably achievable, and, in any case, for at least 200 years."

The standards give detailed radiation limits from radon and radium. Requirements for the site include: - suitable, safe isolation of the wastes during the long periods of time required; - slopes must not be steeper than 5:1 to 10:1 (H:V); and - the deposit must be isolated by several specific layers of different materials below and above the pile for ground-water and environmental protection. Protective layers against erosion must be included. If the material at its present location is not isolated from groundwater, then it must be exca-vated and deposited at an intermediate disposal site to enable the installation of the protective layers, before it can be moved back to its original location.

Following is a condensed and edited version of an interview made on 2 November 1989 by Peter Diehl of Paul Robinson, Southwest Research and Information Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A., on reclamation in the U.S. (Note: the "tonne" used is the metric unit equal to 1,000 kg or 2,200 pounds.)

What is meant by "reclamation" and what techniques are used?

Reclamation in the law is defined as stabilization in order to prevent exposure of people to radiation and other hazardous materials in the tailings, and to prevent damage to the environment such as groundwater or soil contamination during the active life of the hazard. For radioactive materials, this time period is thou-sands of years. The non-radioactive materials in the tailings are a perpetual hazard. The cleanup that has been done under the Mill Tailings Act has been primarily of abandoned mills where, prior to 1970, uranium was milled for weapons production. The cost of reclamation of these govern-ment purchased, abandoned tailings was fully paid for by the federal US government at a total cost in the 2-3 billion dollar range. The techniques used to cleanup these particular tail-ings included covering the tailings with thick covers on the order of two to three meters and cleanup of ground-water contamination at various sites around these tailings. In some cases the tailings were spread out in piles and have been consolidated in one, smaller area. In three of the locations - Grand Junction and Durango, Colorado; and Salt Lake City, Utah - the tailings piles were in such a high population area or in such a vulner-able location from a flood risk stand-point, that the tailings were actually moved from 20 to 80 km to new sites which eliminated the groundwater and surface water risks. About a million tonnes were moved in each of the three cases.

Usually a tailings cover involves a fine particle layer or clay layer on the surface to prevent movement of radioactive materials vertically upward through the cover by capillary motion. Clay liners might prevent that kind of motion, but will not reduce radon levels. The clay layer is for chemical control and the thickness is for radon reduction. A thicker cover also pre-sents a barrier to erosion and in many cases the cover is further covered with a rock material which might be 10 to 20 cm thick. Such rock armor prevents longterm wind erosion. That makes three layers: clay about one meter thick, two meters of soil from the location, and then 20 cm of rock.

The techniques used then have been covering the tailings and movement to a safer place. Are there other tech-niques being used or that you ask for?

We at Southwest Research have sought to have all the tailings moved to a location which was lined or sealed to prevent seepage. Movement was only done in the most severe cases. Of the abandoned tailings piles, about 20 were reclaimed in place and only three were moved. In our view, the tailings not moved represent a longterm risk to groundwater, and a health risk for those using the groundwater for drinking.

What about the cost? Who is paying for all this reclamation?

The costs of reclamation were divided in the Mill Tailings Act by different formula for the abandoned and active tailings. The active tailings are tailings piles that were added to after 1970. Prior to 1970, the great bulk of uranium mill tailings were generated for government use, which is for bomb manufacture. Since the late 1960's the US government has had adequate stockpiles for bomb uses, and the uranium mining industry has been continued solely for nuclear power purposes. Since the pre-1970 tailings were purchased by the government, the government has paid 100% of the cost of reclamation of the abandoned tailings, which is the smaller volume -- 24 million tonnes. The total costs of those reclamation projects were in the US$2 billion range, and costs ranged from US$18 per tonne to US$34 per tonne.

What portion of the commercial tailings have been reclaimed?

Very few commercial tailings sites have been reclaimed. Those that have are the very smallest. About 10% of the 155 million tonnes have been reclaimed, including sites in Gas Hills, Wyoming operated by Union Carbide Corp. and sites in New Mexico operated by BP, which had its mineral division acquired by Rio Tinto Zinc.

The Sohio tailings at the L-bar mill, one of the Rio Tinto piles, contains about a million tonnes of tailings and cost about US$15 million to reclaim - a cost of about US$15 per tonne. The site was reclaimed in place and not moved, even though there was groundwater contamination about half a km off company property. The clean-up of this groundwater contamination is continuing through pumping contaminated water out of the ground and placing it in a lined evaporation pond for evaporation into the air. The sludge left from the evaporation is to eventually be placed in the tailings pile. The pump-back system will need to continue for a very long time before the groundwater is fully cleaned. This concept of active pumping is called "active mainten-ance". There are legal requirements preventing, to the extent practical, active maintenance to avoid continued cost generation into the future. Nevertheless, the active pump-back reclamation system was approved at this site.

Sources and contacts: Peter Diehl and Paul Robinson. See international contact list for addresses.

U.S. Department of Energy, Albuquerque Operations Office, Box 5400,
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87115.

Press Release For Immediate Release 11 March 1991


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today began hauling uranium mill tailings from Grand Junction as part of the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project.

With agreement of the State of Colorado, the tailings are being hauled by a combination of trains and trucks to the Cheney disposal site located about 29 km southwest of Grand Junction.

The decision to relocate the tailings to the Cheney disposal site was the result of frequent consultations between DOE and all levels of Colorado state and local government. The selection of trains to remove the tailings from within the city limits was made in response to community concerns about transportation safety.

Under the rail/truck system, up to eight loaded trains per day will travel from the UMTRA project site, located in an industrial section south of downtown Grand Junction, to a transfer site where the tailings will be loaded onto trucks to complete the journey to the Cheney disposal site for permanent stabilization.

Each train will have 19 cars. Removal of the more than 5.2 million cubic yards (3.95 million cubic meters) is scheduled to be completed in 29 months.

For further information contact: Dave Jackson 505-845-5699 or Jack Hoopes 505-845-4015. UNTRA Project Office toll free in the U.S.: 1-800-523-6495.


Information on uranium mining in the Soviet Union has been a closely guarded secret. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), however, has long been aware of many details. "The U.S.S.R. Energy Atlas," pub-lished by the CIA in 1985, lists the names and one line descriptions of 30 uranium mining and processing sites. Six sites are listed in the European U.S.S.R.; two in the Urals; 18 in Kazakhstan and Central Asia; and four in Siberia. The document states, "... according to Soviet geologic literature, almost every type of uranium deposit found elsewhere in the world has been found and exploi-ted in the U.S.S.R. In addition, some of the uranium deposits described seem to have no western counter-parts... Uranium exploration and mining methods in the Soviet Union are generally the same as those applied in the West."

According to the Natural Resource Defence Council in Washington, D.C., the Soviet Main Administration for Nuclear Weapons (MAPI), "supervises the entire chain of production of nuclear weapons, from the mining of uranium ore through the fabrication of warheads, and is responsible for the production of all nuclear materials, uranium enrichment, production reactors, nuclear waste management, and warhead research, development, testing and production. Analogous to the U.S. Department of Energy, MAPI is also responsible for research and production of civilian nuclear power technology and utilities, high-energy physics, lasers, and other civilian programs including the production of dairy equipment." ("Soviet Nuclear Warhead Production," pp. 5-6).


  1. CIA. 1985 "The U.S.S.R. Energy Atlas" (GPO stock number 041-015-00157-4). See pp. 42-43. Available from the U.S. National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Springfield, Virginia. U.S.A. 22161, tel. 703-487-4650, fax: 703-321-8547; or U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Box 37082, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. 20013-7082, tel. 202-275-2060/ 275-2171.
  2. Natural Resources Defence Council. 1989. "Nuclear Weapons Data Book Vol IV." See pp. 92-92. Price: US$40 plus postage.
  3. Levine, Richard M. 1991. "Soviet Union -- Uranium." In: "Mining Annual Review -- 1991," pp. 140-152. Re-printed in: "Proceedings -- Meeting of Anti-uranium Citizens Committees in Europe, at Zwickau/Saxony 1-3 August 1991."


Decision on Kiggavik uranium mine project stalled

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(April 6, 1990) In a victory for forces opposing the proposed Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake (Northwest Territories, Canada), the Baker Lake Hamlet community voted a resounding "no" to the project.

(330.3300) WISE Amsterdam - The plebiscite on the Kiggavik question, promised in February by the Baker Lake Hamlet Council (see WISE News Communique 328.3283), was held Monday 26 March and 90% of the voters opposed the mine. Although this certainly is not an end to the fight, it is still a big success.

Meanwhile, though, the territorial government has refused to take a (public) stand, leaving those affected by the proposal with no support and a lot of anxiety. A motion seeking unequivocal opposition by the Territories' Legislative Assembly to the mine was left hanging in early March when the issue was put before the Assembly's Committee of the Whole for discussion. The motion, put forward by legislators Peter Ernerk and Don Morin, didn't even get past opening comments before Justice Minister Mike Ballantyne moved that it be referred to the Committee.

"Referring the motion to the committee for debate means it could be delayed until next fall," said Ernerk. Ernerk says he and Morin proposed the motion on behalf of the thousands of Inuit who live in "day-to-day fear" of the proposed mine. But, he added, "The government's tactics are clear. They (the cabinet) don't see relieving the great anxiety of the people as a priority."

Urangesellschaft Canada Ltd. has already sutmitted its Environmental Assessment Report on the proposed mine. The German-owned Urangesellschaft (UG) wants to spend CDN $150 to 175 million for the development of the mine and mill complex near the arctic circle. The total uranium contents of the deposit is estimated at 17,800 metric tons at an average grade of 0.48%. Although this will be the first uranium mine in an arctic area, environmental impacts are regarded as negligible by UG.

To date, opposition to the proposed mine has been clearly demonstrated by Keewatin residents by way of petitions (1,700 signatures) from five communities. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference has also offered its full support to the Inuit. And in addition to the Baker Lake community, the proposed mine is opposed by the Keewatin Inuit Association, the Keewatin Regional Council, the Keewatin Wildlife Federation, the Beverly Kaminuriak Caribou Management Board, the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut, a citizens' committee from nearby Rankin Inlet, the NWT Federation of Labour, Ecology North and Nuclear Free North.


  • Phone call from Jack Hicks(Canada), 28 Mar. 1990
  • Nunatsiaq News (Canada), 9 Mar. 1990
  • NuclearFuel (US), 5 Feb. 1990.

Contact: Keewatin Inuit Association, P0 Box 240, Rankin Inlet, NWT, Canada X0C OGO, tel: +1-819-645- 2800 or 2805, fax: 819-645-2348
The Kiggavik Uranium Mine Environmental Assessment Summary Report is available from Paul Scott, Executive Secretary, Kiggavik Uranium Mine Environmental Assessment Panel, Suite 510, 750 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B 2P2, tel: +1-604-666-2431.

Uranium blockade/Saskatchewan

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(November 3, 1989) On 26 August 1989 three peace activists from Uncle Louie's Catholic Worker Community In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan blocked traffic in and out of the Canadian Mineral and Energy Company's (CAMECO) Saskatoon shipping depot.

(320.3210) WISE Stockholm - CAMECO is the world's largest uranium producer and was formed by the merger in 1988 of the Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation (SMDC) and Eldorado Nuclear Ltd. (ENL).

At the end of September 1989 the Cigar Lake uranium mine project claimed its first victim. While working in the underground mine, a worker was crushed by a large machine. The Cigar Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan is slated to be the largest and richest in the world. The Cigar Lake deposit includes 110,000 metric tonnes of uranium at an average grade of 12%, and a further 40,000 tonnes at an average grade of 4%. What is more, there are pockets of uranium in the deposit that grade up to 60%. The site of the deposit has been known to local Indian people for a long time. No one has trapped there because all the snow cover melts in the winter.

The three activists were supported at the blockade by 30 people, including two from Toronto who had walked from the east coast of Canada to Saskatoon to raise awareness about the uranium industry and Canada's involvement in nuclear weapons proliferation. In a statement to the press, the three referred to a resolution passed by Saskatchewan church leaders in 1983 calling for a "halt to uranium mining for the sake of peace". They point out, however, that what has happened is not a halt, but the continued expansion of the uranium industry.

The two walkers from Toronto, who have walked across Canada with their six children, are from the Walk For World Survival. The walk was made to support the recommendations made at the International Uranium Congress held June 1988 in Saskatoon (see WISE News Communique 295.3016).

As part of the blockade, one of the walkers, Marty Smith, tried to get into the CAMECO office to prosent letters gathered from across the country in support of the walk. The door to the office was locked, but after ringing the doorbell three times, a company executive quickly accepted the letters and closed the door again.

Rita Mirwald, spokesperson for CAMECO, stated on a local radio program that the blockade had not disrupted operations at the depot because it was not being used anyway. The protesters, however, had been engaging in peace vigils at the site for over ten months and report that there is normally a high level of traffic in and out of the shipping yard. It is clear that any business normally done through the depot had been halted for a day, a small but significant victory.

Source: Stephanie Sydiaha (Canada)

Contacts: SOS, Box 9395, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7K 7E9
Uncle Louie' s Catholic Worker Community, Lorne Penna, #3-1017-22nd St. West, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7M 052, Tel: 306-652-8754.