The Commonwealth of Virginia asked the National Academy of Science (NAS) of the USA to help determine if uranium mining is safe. Saskatchewan has a long history upon which to draw.
Areva funded the NAS trip to Saskatchewan. NAS Committee members are volunteers; Areva paid for their transportation, accommodation and meal costs. Their schedule while in Saskatchewan is appended.
The NAS meetings in Saskatoon were on June 8-9, 2011. One-half hour was allotted for input from the public. Individuals were allotted three minutes, with no time for follow-up questions from the Committee members.
Six people provided input, I regret I didn’t obtain who they were.
- One was an environmental lawyer from an NGO in Virginia and/or downstream North Carolina. In a cautionary vein, he mentioned local letters-to-the editor in the U.S. that called the consultations “an Areva love-in”.
- A compelling presenter was a woman, maybe in her fifties, from Virginia and of First Nations origin. She largely addressed the difference between theory (what the REGULATIONS SAY) and REALITY – what actually happens in the real world. There is a large divergence between the two. Fukishima has some lessons on that!
- Jim Penna, retired professor of philosophy and long-time anti-nuke activist from Saskatoon (the Inter Church Uranium Committee – ICUC) spoke.
- also a fellow who represented industry interests
- and now (June 20) I’ve forgotten the 6th presenter!
I used my three minutes to expand on the theme that quoting the Regulations is insufficient, saying “here is the situation in Saskatchewan” (local knowledge that gives lie to Industry reassurances given to the Committee (see the next posting).
Previous mention of the “love-in” (made by the lawyer) was perfect entry to pointing out a major local problem: the undermining of democracy that comes with the uranium/nuclear Corporations working through Governments and the Universities.
People (professors) from Virginia Tech were in attendance, I don’t see them among the scheduled presenters. Perhaps they were there only to learn. I spoke with one of them who did uranium-related work (she mentioned “Mining”, so maybe she is from a Department of Geology at Virginia Tech?). She explained to me the benefits of the industry working through the educational institutions instead of through the Government.
Areva helps fund Virginia Tech; it sounds similar to the Cameco funding of the University of Saskatchewan here.
Two members of the Committee asked me during the break to send in additional material that would be useful to their deliberations. My sense was that their Saskatchewan agenda was biased toward industry input and they knew it. You can look at the appended schedule and decide for yourself.
Dr. Gordon Edwards from Montreal, pre-eminent Canadian authority on the uranium/nuclear industry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Edwards), applied to provide input to the NAS Committee but was turned down by the organizers. Dr. Jim Penna was similarily refused but is local and used the three minute public comments to at least get a word in.
The First Nations woman and the NGO lawyer came all the way from Virginia to make a presentation to the Committee, I assume they knew that they could only be fit into the half-hour public comment slot (three minutes). Makes me wonder whether their situation was similar to Drs. Edwards and Penna?
I am sending material to the NAS in a series of emails, this being the first. It is essential wherever we live, to support each other when we can. Together, we are a formidable force for the public interest. This is for the citizens of Virginia and downstream North Carolina where I lived for a year!
You will see in the appended information how to make a submission to the NAS Committee. I am certain that the people of Virginia will benefit from, and will welcome your input.
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SENT: Fri 6/24/2011 7:10 PM
SUBJECT: Should the 30-year moratorium on uranium mining, milling & processing in Virginia be lifted? (contact info for independent experts, as promised)
TO: U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC
TOPIC: Recommended independent experts: Doctors Woollard (British Columbia, Canada, Moratorium) and Dubé (an expert in uranium mining effects on the environment)
Dear Members of the Committee,
I provided verbal input to you on June 9th in Saskatoon during the half-hour “Public Comment” session. It was agreed that I would send you contact information for Drs. Woollard and Dubé.
During the break I was asked by two Committee members whose names I do not know, to provide additional “material”. I am sending that material to you in a series of emails, by subject.
I understand that you will be posting (not this email) but the other material I send, to a web-site for public consumption, along with other submissions you receive.
Do you mind sending the link to the web-page(s) to me? (INSERT: not received. and I could not find it.) The information you receive will be helpful to people in Saskatchewan as well as other places in the world, especially in the aftermath of Fukishima.
On June 9th I undertook to send you contact information for two knowledgeable and scientific persons:
1. DR. BOB WOOLLARD
Regarding the effects of uranium on public health.
Dr. Woollard is from the University of British Columbia and a member of The British Columbia Medical Association. He works internationally.
B.C. placed a moratorium on uranium mining. I was told (not by Dr. Woollard) that the decision was largely based on the analysis of health outcomes, and that the data used came largely from Saskatchewan. I tracked down Dr. Woollard in late 2009; he was robust, confirmed what I’d been told, and very helpful in his answers to my questions.
A summary of the BCMA report is available at http://www.ccnr.org/bcma.html (HEALTH DANGERS OF URANIUM MINING AND JURISDICTIONAL QUESTIONS, the British Columbia Medical Association, A SUMMARY OF MATERIAL BEFORE THE BRITISH COLUMBIA ROYAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. ~ URANIUM MINING ~ PRESENTED: AUGUST 1980 BY E.R. YOUNG, B.Sc., M.D. and R.F. WOOLLARD, M.D.
(Robert F Woollard, MD, CCFP, FCFP, Professor, UBC Department of Family Practice).
I was not successful in contacting Dr. Woollard last week – I used the email address of his Administrative Coordinator. I did want to advise Dr. Woollard that I had recommended him to you. This email is cc’d to his personal email address. I do not think he will mind.
Dr. Woollard’s contact info otherwise is in care of:
Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc)
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2. DR. MONIQUE DUBé
I believe that Dr. Dubé will have valuable input for you. “Canada Research Chairs” are awarded to the best of our scientists. Dr. Dubé knows about the water and the radioactivity on the shores of lakes in northern Saskatchewan where the uranium mines are located. Some of her field work is in that area.
Dr. Dubé is an independent expert in uranium mining effects on the environment. She is aware that her name and contact information is forwarded to you.
Dr. Monique Dubé
Canada Research Chair, Aquatic Ecosystem Health Diagnostics, University of Saskatchewan
Science is for Service
You must do the things you think you cannot do. -Eleaner Roosevelt-
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APPENDED NOTICE OF MEETING IN SASKATOON (for readers; not sent to NAS)
Should the 30 year moratorium on uranium mining, milling & processing in Virginia be lifted?
The Commonwealth of Virginia has asked the National Academy of Science of the USA to help determine if uranium mining is safe.
The NAS is holding meetings in Saskatoon June 8-9
If you would like to attend the sessions that are open to the public or need more information please contact:
Courtney Gibbs Email: cgibbs AT nas.edu Phone: 202 334 2744 Fax: 202 334 1377
Registration Required for all open sessions.
Uranium Mining in Virginia
Radisson Hotel, 405 Twentieth Street East, Saskatoon
Monday June 6th OPEN SESSION – Mine Tour: Rabbit Lake Mine and Processing Facilities
Tuesday June 7th OPEN SESSION – Mine Tour: McLean Lake Mine and Processing Facilities
Wednesday June 8th CLOSED SESSION 8.00am-12.30am
12.30pm-1.00pm: Hugh Miller, Colorado School of Mines
– uranium mining practices
1.00pm-1.30pm: Dirk van Zyl, University of British Columbia
– uranium tailings impoundment practices
1.30pm-2.30pm: Kevin Scissons, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
– “Regulating Mines and Mills in Canada”
2.30pm-3.00pm: Gary Delaney, Saskatchewan Chief Geologist and/or Cory Hughes, Saskatchewan Director of Mineral Policy
– broad/high level overview of Saskatchewan geology and the regulatory environment
3.30pm-4.00pm: Neil Crocker, Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety
–Radiation Safety with respect to mine operations
4.00pm-4.30pm: Tim Moulding, Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment
– provincial environmental regulation affecting mining
4.30pm-5.00pm: Dr. James Irvine, (Medical Health Officer, Population Health Unit, Athabasca Health Authority, Keewatin Yatthe and Mamawetan Churchill River Health Region)
– role of the public health department in assessment/monitoring of uranium development
Thursday June 9th OPEN SESSION
8.30am-9.00am: Theresa McClenaghan, Canadian Environmental Law Association
– strengths and weaknesses of Canada’s uranium mining/processing regulatory environment
9.00am-9.30am: Richard Gladue, AREVA Resources Canada Inc. VP Corporate Social Responsibility
– corporate social responsibility
10.00am-10.30am: Dale Huffman, AREVA Resources Canada Inc.
– safety, health, environment and quality
10.30am-11.00pm: Wayne Summach, Cameco Corporation; Program Manager, Emergency Preparedness
– transportation of uranium products and the precautions built into that system
11.00am-11.30pm: Dave Hiller AREVA Resources Canada Inc.
– Saskatchewan approach to decommissioning, with particular reference to Cluff Lake mine decommissioning
11.30am-12.00pm: Public Comment period
CLOSED SESSION 12.00pm-5.30pm
Closed Session Summary Posted After the Meeting
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NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCE (NAS), PROJECT DEFINITION, LIFTING OF URANIUM MINING MORATORIUM, VIRGINIA