Doctors Support Quebec Uranium Moratorium
Quebec, October 23, 2012 - Physicians for Global Survival (Canada) says it is in total agreement with Quebec Environment Minister Daniel Breton's decision to impose a moratorium on uranium exploration and to launch a generic BAPE process regarding uranium mining in Quebec.
Some Canadian provinces and US States have already enacted a moratorium on uranium exploration and use: British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Virginia. We firmly believe that Quebec must follow suit and that it should seriously study the risks associated with this industry.
There are many reasons why PGS opposes the development of uranium exploration and mining. The first one is that this industry spews enormous quantities of toxic and radioactive wastes into the environment (80-85 per cent of the initial ore mass). Some of these substances have half-lives of thousands of years. Others, such as radon gas, can travel far from the mine site and contaminate the environment. The risk of air, land, groundwater and surface water contamination is quite significant.
We wish to underline that the health risks associated with radioactive substances are already well known and that this knowledge is getting better and better. Uranium causes bone and kidney pathologies and is toxic to the neurological system, liver and embryo. And other dangerous substances are also found in wastes: radium and strontium, which cause bone cancers; radon and polonium, which cause lung cancers. It should be stressed that there is no safe limit for radiation: any exposure to radiation is a health risk. Also remember that these wastes release several other very toxic substances into our environment: heavy metals, sulphur oxides, etc.
There have been several occurrences of containment dams being breached and groundwater contaminated in the past (example: Cluff Lake). Contrary to industry's assertions, containment measures can never be totally secure. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) itself admitted in 2010 that many scientific uncertainties remain regarding waste management in Canada.
By shutting down Gentilly-2, Quebec has decided to turn its back on nuclear energy. It is therefore quite logical for the province to steer away from uranium production.
Finally, let us never forget that uranium is the root element of nuclear weapons and that by leaving the ore in the ground, we help put an end to nuclear weapons proliferation.
For more information, please contact Dr. Éric Notebaert at 514-978-6262 or 514-338-2000, or Dr. Juan Carlos Chirgwin at 514-736-1071.
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