B.C. uranium ban should stay, First Nations leader says

The president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs does not believe the provincial moratorium on uranium mining should be lifted.

“The Okanagan Nation Alliance has always been opposed to uranium exploration and mining, as has the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told the Straight by phone today (May 30). “We’ve never supported uranium exploration and mining, and we’ve always supported those groups and communities that have opposed exploration and mining. And we certainly support a continuation of the moratorium.”

The B.C. Liberals banned the exploration and development of uranium in April 2008.

This move led to a scathing Vancouver Sun editorial in May of that year, which claimed, “Uranium mining is no more dangerous than other forms of mining, which happens to be the safest of all heavy industries.”

Phillip was quick in his response to these claims.

“I don’t believe that for a moment,” he said. “Uranium mining is a major issue down in the American southwest. With reference to the tribes in the Four Corners, they have been vehemently opposed to uranium mining and they brought forward a lot of compelling evidence about the incidences of cancer in those Native Americans who have worked within the uranium mining open-pit operations.”

The issue has always been controversial in Germany, and has heated up again after Chancellor Angela Merkel reversed existing policy due to safety concerns after the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Merkel has said Germany will phase out all nuclear power by 2022.



Peter Dimitrov

May 30, 2011 at 10:53pm

In the heyday when uranium exploration was happening in all regions of British Columbia (late 70's), in community watersheds in the Kootenays, Okanagan, Atlin area etc. there was a broad movement of persistent opposition, a great deal of civil disobedience, and a hell'va lot of energy expended by a large multi-member group of enviros, labor, first nations who together to form a united opposition in this province-called the Ad Hoc Commitee Against Uranium Mining & Exploration co-chaired primarily by David Garrick and myself. All the ruckus across the land eventually led to the Bates Royal Commission Inquiry on Uranium Exploration & Mining, with a plethora of experts giving their opinions on the dangers of low level radioactivity, radon gas, risks to ground water, flora, fauna and humans, as well as ordinary BC'ers giving their views too. The end result, was that before the Bates Royal Commission could render its final report, the government of the day, declared a moratorium on uranium exploration & mining. IMO, that moratorium ought to stand. The views expressed by Chief S. Phillip are 100% true - exploration and mining of uranium is NOT like other types of mining whatsoever. Further, given the projected explansion of the nuclear sector worldwide - [China intends to build in an assembly line process 1,000 nuke power stations by 2050 using the very latest technology, including Candu and IF breeder reactors that use spent fuel from previous generations of nuclear reactors (such as the Fukushima design of late 1950's), medical isotopes and depeleted uranium; and the USA too ] - thus we have no need for new sources of uranium, and even if wrong on that, I see little benefit to BC from allowing uranium mining -it will bring massive civil disobedience and discord to the Province again and, ultimately a 'hard rain' will fall from the endeavor. Leave it in the ground!

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Peter Dimitrov

May 31, 2011 at 9:24am

should read "unlike the Fukushima design of the late 1950's

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