Quebec commission recommends against uranium mining
The province of Quebec imposed a moratorium on new uranium exploration and mining permits in April 2014 and announced that an inquiry would be carried out. The inquiry − conducted by the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) − has been completed and it recommends against uranium mining in the province.
The BAPE commission concluded that there remains significant uncertainty and gaps in existing scientific and technological knowledge regarding uranium mining, the management of uranium waste, and the associated health and environmental impacts.
The Cree Nation has welcomed the BAPE report, released on July 17 following a year-long inquiry and public consultation process.
"The BAPE's report confirms what the Cree Nation has long maintained: that uranium development poses unique and significant risks for our lands, our environment, our communities and our future generations," said Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come. "The report reflects what we observed in the consultation process, that the overwhelming majority of the population, in Cree communities and across Quebec, oppose uranium development. ... The Cree Nation greatly appreciates the support we have received on this issue from other Aboriginal peoples and from individuals, groups and municipalities across Quebec."
Québec's minister for sustainable development, environment and climate change David Huertel said that the BAPE report will be analysed by an inter-ministerial committee.
Quebec Mining Association president Josée Méthot praised the decision to review the report by an inter-ministerial committee. "We are pleased that the government does not immediately reject the uranium industry that could create a new industry in Quebec", Methot said.
The BAPE report stipulates that should the government decide to permit uranium mining to go ahead, it must ensure social acceptability through an information program and cooperation and consensus-building strategy; overcome "technological uncertainties and current gaps in scientific knowledge"; and develop a legal framework.
The report states: "During its inquiry and hearings, the commission found that substantial progress has been made in recent decades in the areas of mining technology and waste confinement strategies, as a result of uranium mining experience in Canada and elsewhere in the world. On the other hand, many scientific and technological limitations and uncertainties still persist and numerous questions have yet to be answered."
The report highlights the challenge of managing mining wastes: "The most recent confinement technique recommended in Canada has been in use for only 30 years. How is it possible to assert that this technology will prove to be reliable in the longer term, since it will take many decades to monitor and assess its efficiency and reliability? Older technologies are considered outdated today, even though they were thought to offer lasting solutions when first introduced."
Canada accounted for 16% of world uranium production in 2013. All of the country's uranium is currently mined in northern Saskatchewan.
English and Cree versions of the Summary and Conclusions of the BAPE's report: www.bape.gouv.qc.ca/sections/rapports/publications/bape308_cri_anglais.pdf
Bure, France: Action camp against nuclear waste
After half a century, the French nuclear industry is still without a solution to the problem of long-term management and disposal of nuclear waste. The French government now resorts to authoritarianism, seizing land to imposing a nuclear waste dump. After several false starts, 20 years ago the French Agency for the Management of Nuclear Wastes (ANDRA) went to Bure, in a sparsely-populated area of the Meuse region of north-eastern France, to undertake its investigations.
With few people living there (about seven people per sq km), Bure was seen as an ideal location. An underground laboratory was created there in 2001 and in 2006 ANDRA decided to convert it into an "industrial centre for geologic management" (CIGEO) despite local public opposition. There is still no nuclear waste there: the start of the site's preparation is planned for 2017 while the first batch of nuclear waste could be there by 2025.
So far all legal actions to stop ANDRA have failed. They ignored the 42,000 people who called for a referendum about nuclear waste management; they swept away the precautionary principle which the public consultation recommended; and finally they ignored local by-laws forbidding the burying of nuclear waste.
With the help of local and national organizations, and anti-nuclear activists from Germany, the local French group opposing Bure bought a house 10 years ago as a reply to ANDRA's laboratory. Thanks to donations from locals and visitors, it has been possible to refurbish this "Revolution House". As a community meeting place, this house was an opportunity to gather independent information about the nuclear industry, to make use of non-nuclear energy resources, etc. This place, where many activists from France and elsewhere have been able to meet each other, is now at the heart of the growing local opposition.
A local activist said: "What we want is not just to put pressure on politicians and nuclear industry for an alternative to geological disposal, but for a complete end to nuclear energy production and its inevitable byproduct. Half of the nuclear waste they plan to bury is not produced yet. Current storage units are full, so it becomes urgent for the French government and the nuclear industry to hide what is left and create enough space for the storage of future waste. In short, they are looking for a quick-fix solution that will legitimate their nuclear electricity program which is perpetuating the catastrophe."
Join French and other international anti-nuclear campaigners in Bure, from August 1−10, to build opposition to CIGEO. The August convergence will not only inform people but also move people to action. It will also be a great occasion to plan actions for the next United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in December 2015 in Paris, hence linking anti-nuclear and climate struggles.
More information and contact:
To read about the background and history of the Bure debate, see Nuclear Monitor #550, June 2001, http://wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/550/bure-and-french-nuclear...
Counterfeit, fraudulent and suspect items
The International Atomic Energy Agency has released its annual Nuclear Technology Review, which includes the following comments on counterfeit, fraudulent and suspect items used in nuclear power plants (NPPs):
"Counterfeit, fraudulent and suspect items (CFSIs) are becoming an increasing concern for operating organizations and regulators and instances of CFSIs and related quality documentation are being detected. In some cases, NPPs that are operating or that are under construction have experienced significant economic impacts, including temporary plant shutdowns, as consequences of using CFSIs. Operating organizations are taking a growing number of preventive measures, including increased awareness and training, better procurement specifications and inspections as well as a reduced use of brokers. Reporting on CFSIs, including those detected prior to plant installation, is increasingly required by regulators."
IAEA, July 2015, Nuclear Technology Review 2015, www.iaea.org/About/Policy/GC/GC59/GC59InfDocuments/English/gc59inf-2_en.pdf