The recent decision by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to
five year uranium exploration license to Strateco Resources for
a project in the Otish Basin in northern Québec has led to
significant discussion about the future of uranium exploration and
mining in Québec.
The application itself was not particularly noteworthy - the
CNSC granted a five year license to Strateco to carry out advanced
uranium exploration activities. Uranium mining, if desired,
would be the subject of a later application and approval if desired
by the proponent.
During the course of hearings into the application, nine Cree
nations in northern Québec raised significant concerns about
uranium exploration and mining. The CNSC dealt with the
submissions of the Cree nations in its reasons for decisions.
The approval of the exploration license has also renewed calls
for a moratorium on uranium exploration. The Parti
Québecois called for a moratorium on uranium mining in
Québec when it was in opposition in 2009, and the Cree
Regional Authority called for a moratorium within Cree territory in
No further information is available on any hearings to be held
All of which has led to a very interesting development - the
President of the CNSC, Michael Binder, published an open letter on
the CNSC's website last week to respond directly to the
moratorium issue. Entitled "
Uranium Moratoriums are Not Supported by Science", the
letter sets out positions on a variety of topics, including
discussions of a uranium exploration moratorium are based on
neither fact nor science
uranium mining is the most regulated, monitored and understood
type of mining in Canada
activists, medical practitioners and politicians who have
demanded moratoriums may have various reasons for doing so but
their claims that the public and the environment are at risk are
provincial governments that have decided to ban uranium
exploration are ignoring years of evidence-based scientifc research
on the uranium industry
the CNSC would never compromise safety by issuing a license if
it was not safe to do so
environmental and worker monitoring shows that all relevant
limits are being complied with at existing operations
uranium mining is as safe as conventional mining
Both the content and tone of the letter are curious. A
letter of this nature, from the head of an independent regulatory
authority, which makes a number of assertions about the safety of
uranium mining and which specifically takes issue with the
positions taken by those who appear before the regulator in
opposition to proposed projects, is highly unusual. A
question might reasonably be raised as to whether, by taking
positions on issues which regularly come up before the CNSC, the
regulator has inappropriately crossed the line into
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The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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