Letters to the editor -
For the past two years exploration for uranium has been under way between the communities of Boxey and Coomb's Cove on the Connaigre Peninsula. Two companies, Monroe Minerals (now Kirrin Resources) of Calgary and Altius Minerals of Newfoundland and Labrador are involved.
The following website, http://www.monroeminerals.com/s/BoxeyPoint.asp, provides information about the companies and their plans. They have currently spent in excess of $1 million and recently received a $100,000 grant from the province to start drilling in November.
Uranium mining is an extremely dangerous process. It has been completely banned by several states and provinces, as well as Nunatsiavut. Uranium is a naturally occurring substance and, left undisturbed, presents little or no risk to humans.
The mining of uranium however, produces toxic byproducts which are lethal. Recovering uranium leaves mounds of radioactive wastes which are as large as many of the hills in the region. The major damage to humans is caused by radiation and the release of radon gas.
Low levels of radiation exposure are linked to serious health effects, including thyroid cancer, leukemia, birth defects, mental retardation and immune system disorders.
As a surgeon who deals with thyroid cancer on a daily basis, I can assure you that the link between low level radiation and thyroid cancer is definite and has been established for some 40 - 50 years. Children under the age of 14 are primarily at risk and can develop cancer up to 30 years after exposure. Companies will argue that the radiation dose is too low but it is precisely low levels that cause problems.
The second danger is radon gas. The U.S. Surgeon General has named Radon the second most serious cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. This gas is carried on the wind, low to the ground, for hundreds of miles and contaminates all vegetation and houses in its path.
Both radiation and radon gas are odorless, colourless, and tasteless. They are silent killers. Once released during the process of mining they take at least 76,000 years to disappear (that is not a misprint).
In case you feel that this is not in your backyard, some of the distances from the proposed mine (as the wind blows) are: Boxey, 2 miles; Harbour Breton, 8 miles; Belleoram, 9 miles; Pool's Cove, 18 miles; St. Albans, 35 miles; Conne River, 30 miles; Rencontre East, 30 miles; Grand Bank, 35 miles; St. John's, 120 miles. The residents of all these areas could be affected.
Your government has decided that human waste from your trailers is contaminating our gravel pits and ordered a mass clean up, but they are not concerned about a uranium mine in the middle of residential areas.
In fact, they are funding it despite the known environmental and health effects. They have also granted control of land that falls within municipal boundaries to these companies. All of this is not only outrageous, but it has been done without consultation with your municipalities or the people
This issue is of the utmost importance to your health, your children's health, and perhaps every generation to follow you. Except for a small benefit to some local businesses, there is no good to come from such a mine.
Very few jobs are created and mine workers have double the incidence of cancer. The environmental effects of open pit uranium mining contaminate water sheds, destroy wildlife and render the land uninhabitable. In the case of the proposed Boxey Point mine, they are risking the radioactive contamination of the waters of Fortune Bay.
Watch the video "All That Glitters" on this website - http://conservationcouncil.ca/southeast/uraniummining.htm - to get some idea of what to expect.
This is not something you discuss over the dinner table and forget about. Have your say. Talk to your politicians. Let's be prepared to stop this by whatever means. Other regions that have had to fight these companies and government have endured long hard battles. The companies expect resistance and are well prepared to deal with it. Do not be afraid to stand up and be counted, for your own good.