The head of the Canadian nuclear regulator has written to Québec’s minister for sustainable development, environment and climate change questioning the recommendations made by a public consultation on uranium mining in the province.
The report by Québec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) was published on 17 July by the province’s minister for sustainable development, environment and climate change David Heurtel.
It was the culmination of one year’s work by the commission set up by BAPE in May 2014 to study the environmental and social impacts of uranium exploration and mining, following a moratorium on new uranium exploration and mining permits imposed by the province in April that year.
The 626-page report concludes that uranium mining operations at present in the province are “counterindicated” because of “limitations and uncertainties” in the current state of knowledge over mining technology and environmental management strategies.
Michael Binder, president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), wrote to Heurtel on 27 July saying BAPE’s report has conclusions and recommendations that “lack scientific basis and rigour”.
“The BAPE’s decision to continue to question the long-standing science and proven safe track record of modern uranium mining is misleading Quebecers and all Canadians,” he said.
The CNSC takes exception to the BAPE’s assertion that uranium mining is not safe, Binder said. “To suggest that uranium mining is unsafe is to imply that the CNSC and the government of Saskatchewan have been irresponsible in their approval and oversight of the uranium mines of Canada for the last 30 years.”
He noted the CNSC has carried out several peer-reviewed studies “over the past several decades” that have “repeatedly provided sound evidence that workers and residents near these facilities are as healthy as the rest of the general population”.
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