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MONTREAL — Tempers in some quarters of Quebec are flaring after the head of Canada’s nuclear safety commission slammed a report by the province’s environmental regulation agency for allegedly “misleading Quebecers and Canadians” on the safety of uranium mining.
In a damning letter to Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel, the president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission – Michael Binder – says it “is very troubling to have the [provincial agency] present your government with conclusions and recommendations that lack scientific basis and rigour.”
Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) recently released a 626-page report recommending to the environment minister that it would be premature at this time to authorize development of a uranium mining industry in the province.
There are many uncertainties and unanswered questions about the environmental, health, social and other risks and concerns involved, the three-person BAPE panel, headed by former Le Devoir environment reporter Louis-Gilles Francoeur, cautions.
The Quebec government said in response to the report’s release that it will set up an interdepartmental committee to assess the findings. The province’s Cree Nation strongly opposes a project to build Quebec’s first uranium mine – Matoush, in the Otish Mountains of Northern Quebec – by Strateco Resources Inc.
Matoush was cleared for underground exploration by the CNSC and the federal Environment Minister based on detailed environmental impact studies, but the project has been held up for years by successive Quebec governments.
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