Cameco defends safety of uranium mining as Cigar Lake mine opens – by Ian Bickis (Canadian Press/Global News – September 24, 2015)

SASKATOON – Cameco’s CEO Tim Gitzel defended the safety of uranium mining as the company opened its operations at Cigar Lake this week amid trying times for the sector.

“Anyone that’s toured these mines, talked to our workers, they can talk to the communities, they can see our statistics, it’s a very safe occupation, and we’re proud to be part of it,” Gitzel said.

Those comments stand in stark contrast to a report released in July by Quebec’s environmental regulation agency (BAPE) concluding after a year of study that it would be premature to allow uranium mining in the province.

The three-person BAPE panel wrote that there are still many uncertainties and “significant gaps in scientific knowledge of the impacts of uranium mining on the environment and public health.”

Gitzel disagrees. “I thought that was a very unfortunate finding in Quebec,” said Gitzel.

“We would take issue with some of the findings that came out of that report. We’ve been operating here for 50 years in Saskatchewan under the close scrutiny of the federal government, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the provincial government – lots of regulatory oversight.”

The head of Canada’s nuclear watchdog also took issue with the BAPE report when it was published. Michael Binder wrote a letter to the Quebec environment minister calling it “very troubling to have the BAPE present your government with conclusions and recommendations that lack scientific basis and rigour.”

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