Friday, July 04, 2008

Effects of the radioactive material.

1. Uranium Rules Changing
2. New N.B. uranium rules 'miss the point'
3. New tests, old problem: Uranium, arsenic | More than 60 homes exceed
4. Yvonne Devine says uranium mining has no economic benefits

1. Uranium Rules Changing
Mining Government moving today to quell public protest by announcing new
regulations for exploration and claim-staking
Published Friday July 4th, 2008

FREDERICTON - After being battered for months over the contentious issue of
uranium mining, the Liberal government is set to announce this morning
amendments to regulations for exploration and claim-staking.

Officials were tight-lipped Thursday about what those amendments might be,
but they said the changes will address public concerns, including potential
effects of mining on drinking water.

Both Natural Resources Minister Donald Arseneault and Environment Minister
Roland Haché will be participating in the announcement in downtown Fredericton.

"We held public consultations and people voiced concerns, and we listened,"
said Sharon Jones, spokeswoman for the department of natural resources.

Within the past year, the uranium issue has rapidly shifted from being
essentially off the official radar to being recognized as a key area that
could make or break the Liberal government.

In an effort to mute calls for a moratorium on uranium exploration, the
government announced in May much tighter regulations that included
returning all radioactive materials to drill holes sealed with a clay-like
substance called bentonite; testing water wells within 500 metres of a
drill site before and after work is done; and keeping liquid waste from
drilling operations a safe distance from wetlands.

But that failed to quell the public uproar. Recent information sessions
with concerned landowners in Fredericton and Moncton turned into boisterous
protests, with citizens railing passionately against uranium exploration.

In mid-June, Premier Shawn Graham said "significant policy changes" were on
the way.

University of New Brunswick professor David Lentz, who has expertise
working in the uranium industry in northern Saskatchewan and has researched
uranium systems since 1982, pointed out that the industry is already quite

But regulations can always be improved upon and the key goal is to ensure
citizens are properly protected, Lentz said Thursday.

"No doubt, stricter controls on invasive exploration activities in
watershed areas will be put in place, but beyond these I would be
guessing," Lentz said of today's announcement.

Mac Campbell, an environmental activist from Lake George, southwest of
Fredericton, was adamant that tighter regulations are needed. Campbell
lives just across the water from Harvey, an area where excessive levels of
uranium were recently found in a number of wells.

The health department set up free water testing for the village after the
unearthing of a forgotten 1981 study that showed elevated levels of uranium
and radon in some homes and wells. For reasons unknown, nothing was done
about the study at the time.

According to Campbell, the processes of prospecting and claim-staking need
to become much more transparent. Many citizens in the region have been
surprised by the appearance of blue ribbons on their property, marking
areas where prospectors have staked mining claims.

"It's all taking place back in the shadows somewhere," Campbell said.
"There needs to be a bigger table and more space at it for people to sit so
the issue can be talked about fully."

Campbell also advocated the creation of a mining ombudsman, who would have
technical expertise and be primarily responsible to landowners. Such a
system would provide citizens with recourse when concerns over mining
development arise, he said.

2. New N.B. uranium rules 'miss the point'
As provincial government prepares to unveil new regulations, opponents say
tougher rules are moot
By Mary Moszynski
Times & Transcript
Published Friday July 4th, 2008

FREDERICTON - Following months of protests from landowners angry with what
they perceive as the provincial government's lack of concern over potential
property and health hazards associated with uranium mining, the Liberals
will today announce new regulations to oversee exploration of the heavy metal.

Natural Resources Minister Donald Arseneault and Environment Minister
Roland Haché will announce the changes at a news conference in Fredericton
early this morning.

But already those opposed to any uranium exploration or mining activity say
the government has once again missed the point by promising to find a
balance for property owners and mining companies.

"We just don't want any uranium mining," said Walter Moore of the group
Support Citizens Against Radioactive Emissions New Brunswick. "It doesn't
matter about the exploration, it's the uranium mining that we don't want.
So why bother exploring?"

Details of the new regulations are unknown but the government has already
signaled its intent to move towards an online staking system to avoid
homeowners seeing strangers trampling through their land. However, Premier
Shawn Graham has said the province won't follow the lead of Nova Scotia and
introduce a ban on uranium exploration.

"Landowners have raised concerns, our government is listening to those
concerns with private landowners and we feel we can achieve a more balanced
approach to this issue," said Graham last month.

Instead of an outright ban, government might restrict exploration in
environmentally-sensitive areas, such as watersheds.

Petitcodiac Riverkeeper Tim Van Hinte said he suspects government might ban
exploration in certain areas, including sources of drinking water.

"If they were to ban it in certain areas, I think it would be a step in the
right direction," he said.

"I think it would show that they are genuinely concerned about the

Thousands of claims have been staked across the province, including a large
number in southeastern New Brunswick. Hundreds of concerned residents
attended information sessions held by the provincial government last month,
where they made it clear they want government to ban uranium exploration.

"I don't think they got the message," said Moore. "We might have to wait
until 2010 for them to get the clear message."

More than 30 environmental groups have called on government to immediately
halt uranium exploration. The Opposition Conservatives have called for a
referendum on the issue.

But despite the protests, the provincial government remained firm in its
stance that uranium exploration and mining could create much-needed
economic development opportunities.

That did little to reassure residents alarmed that New Brunswick didn't
have any specific regulations governing uranium exploration but was instead
following Saskatchewan's lead.

Then, in May, government was criticized for simply introducing guidelines,
rather than mandatory regulations, for companies exploring for uranium.

The guidelines request that a company test a private water well prior and
following any drilling in the area.

Although much of the focus has been on landowners concerned about their
property rights, significant health questions are also being asked by New
Brunswickers, particularly in Harvey, located west of Fredericton.

The provincial government announced free tests for Harvey residents to
measure the level of uranium and arsenic in the water. The tests were
announced once a 1981 study showing high levels of uranium in the water and
radon in the air surfaced earlier this year. The residents who participated
in the study were never contacted with the results.

So far 108 water samples -- about half of the number of households eligible
for testing -- have been tested. Of the samples, 22 exceeded the acceptable
level of 20 micrograms per litre for uranium in drinking water while 41
samples exceeded the acceptable level of 10 micrograms per litre for arsenic.

The results are similar to those outlined in the 1981 study, said Dr. Scott
Giffin, acting medical officer of health for the region.

"The most significant thing here is that long-term exposure to high levels
of arsenic in your water probably increases your risk for developing lung
cancer or skin cancer," he said.

Residents with high levels of uranium or arsenic must now decide whether to
drink bottled water or to install a reverse osmosis filter on their water

Residents have until July 21 to have their water tested. They can also have
their homes tested for radon levels.

3. New tests, old problem
Uranium, arsenic | More than 60 homes exceed standards
Published Friday July 4th, 2008

Officials from the Department of Health say water tested from a significant
number of wells in the Harvey area show high levels of uranium and arsenic.

To date, 108 wells have been tested and 22 exceeded the acceptable level of
20 micrograms per litre of uranium in their drinking water.

Forty-one samples surpassed acceptable limits for arsenic.

The province has been offering free well-water testing for area residents
and business owners since May.

That's when the Department of Health discovered that results of a 1981
study of uranium and radon levels hadn't been released to residents who had
participated in the study.

Officials are urging residents to take advantage of the free well-water
testing and to participate in another free test that measures the level of
air-borne radon in their homes.

The deadline to register for both testing programs is July 21.

Harvey Mayor Winston Gamblin said members of the community are pleased the
province offered free testing programs.

Gamblin said most people have already accessed the program or will before
the deadline expires.

"We want as many people to test as possible," he said Thursday.

"One woman told me today when she brought a sample in, she said, 'I've
drank the water for 20-some years and I'd like to know what I'm drinking now.'"

He said he's encouraging people who receive test results to take action to
protect themselves, but many people have already begun the process.

"There's the reverse osmosis system and there's some people that have them
in already, and I know some people that have ordered some to put in,"
Gamblin said.

A reverse osmosis water treatment system forces water through a
semi-permeable membrane to remove impurities.

Dr. Scott Giffin, acting medical officer of health for River Valley Health,
said in a news release that the current test results match the levels
discovered in the 1981 study.

The Harvey region has a history of elevated arsenic levels that occur
naturally in the environment.

Giffin said 19 residents have registered for radon air testing, but most
will wait to have the testing completed during the winter months when the
test conditions are most effective.

Residents can register for the two testing programs by calling the regional
Public Health office at 506-453-2830. People can pick up bottles and
instructions for water sampling at the Harvey village office between 8 a.m.
and noon on Mondays and Thursdays.

4. Yvonne Devine says uranium mining has no economic benefits
President of southeastern chapter of the Conservation Council of N.B. also
says it's not good for province's tourism sector.
Lise Elsliger, HERE NB
Published Friday July 4th, 2008

There are certain jobs that don't pay much and fighting for the environment
is one of them. It's with a great deal of passion, however, that Yvonne
Devine is devoting her life to the pro bono work of fighting against
uranium mining in New Brunswick. In the last few months since she first
spoke to [here] Magazine on the subject when it was still little known in
the province, the president of southeast chapter of the Conservation
Council of New Brunswick has reached thousands of people province-wide with
an adamant determination to end the uranium mining industry.

Uranium mining allows companies to mine for uranium on your land. Since
uranium, which is used in nuclear energy, has a high pricetag, the province
of N.B. stands to make a lot of money with it since there's a lot of
uranium in this province. Add that to the fact the mining itself is very
dangerous due to the toxicity of the substance or "tailings" left behind
that contain radioactive materials, and you have a quite a concerned group
of citizens.

Uranium mining discussions have also pointed out to residents that we
literally don't own our own land. Mining rights to our property belong to
the province (the Crown) and can be sold to any company that wishes to
exploit the resources. They can't claim what's on our private property: our
house, our lawn, in the front and in the back, our garage, our driveway and
if we have a garden. But they can claim everything else around it.

As a response to the CCNB's efforts, certain important events have occurred
in the last few months. Both the City of Moncton (on March 17), and the
Town of Riverview (on April 14), unanimously passed a resolution for a ban
on uranium exploration and mining. On April 23, nine Francophone
municipalities in southeastern New Brunswick asked for an interim
moratorium on uranium exploration in the region.

"What we've found in all of this," Devine says, "is that pretty much all
the people we've talked to are upset that this is being done without
consultation. They don't want mines in New Brunswick."

On March 30 CCNB held an information session at the Capitol Theatre with
presenters dealing with different aspects of uranium mining and its health
and economic effects. Over 700 people attended.

"Since then," Devine explains, "we've given presentations across the
province for over the 2,000 people."

As for the support of the provincial government, it's been mixed.

On the one hand, the Department of Natural Resources has held a public
information sessions on uranium exploration and mining from June 4-5.

"One of the people posing a question asked the people in the room to stand
up if they didn't want uranium mining in the province and everybody stood
up. That was a real firm indication to the province that the people don't
want it."

On the other hand, on April 24, all members of the NB Liberal Party stood
up in the legislature to reject a motion by the PCs for a moratorium, which
is a legally authorized period of delay or a waiting period set by an
authority, on uranium exploration and mining in N.B.

On May 23, a motion for a referendum on uranium exploration and mining in
N.B. was likewise rejected.

Among the people protesting are the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations in
New Brunswick. In a letter published June 24 in the Telegraph Journal, Ruth
Levi, president of the Mawiw Council, voiced her concerns: "Of particular
concern to the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet peoples," she said, "is the scourge of
uranium mining. If uranium mining takes place it will take place in our
backyards, near our farms and villages, close to our rivers. The First
Nations will not allow their natural heritage to be poisoned by this
ill-conceived effort."

Devine feels the government is making the mistake of looking at this from
an economic perspective.

"But even from an economic perspective, it's not a good idea. They're left
with all the waste that has to be managed. Then there's the long-term
health care from the effects of the radioactive material. They'd be putting
all the money in the health care system and in trying to clean up the
environment. We're promoting the province as a tourist destination, a clean
place to come where people will be free to walk in the woods. We can't have
it if you're going to have uranium mining."

For more information on uranium mining visit the CCNB website at To contact Yvonne Devine, e-mail .

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