Cleanup will cost Sask. taxpayers

Cleanup will cost Sask. taxpayers

Postby Oscar » Mon Feb 20, 2023 9:25 am

Cleanup will cost Sask. taxpayers

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Val Drummond February 1, 2023

Dear Editor,

On March 1st the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will hold a hearing in Ottawa to review a request from Orano Canada (aka AMOK, AREVA) to hand over responsibility for management of the contaminated Cluff Lake Uranium mine and mill site to the province.

In the 1960s, at the Gunnar and Laredo uranium mine sites near Uranium City, “unconfined tailings” were left behind on the surface and open to wind and water. The clean-up costs have ballooned to $220 million and rising - paid for by Saskatchewan tax payers. That work is not complete and, after 60 years of neglect, several river systems downstream are polluted to a serious level, well above the Saskatchewan drinking water standard.

At Cluff Lake uranium mine, from 1980 to 2002, the radioactive tailings were deposited in a shallow lowland, covered with a meter or so of till in 2004-6, then planted with vegetation.

There is no confining barrier between the waste and the environment; an old dam is all that separates this area from a lake. Obviously the tailings are “unconfined” in any real sense of the word. Water flows through them into the groundwater that eventually will reach the wider ecosystem.

And our Sask. Party government is going to let Orano get away with this by taking back responsibility for the site sometime this year.
Not only that, the government projects that Orano will leave behind only $1.1 -1.2 million for monitoring into the future. Note that a radioactive pollutant such as Radium-226 has a half-life of 1,600 years!! So much more money will be required for monitoring.

And, tragically, the Energy and Resources department are only asking Orano to leave us about $390,000 total as (1) financial assurance and (2) for dealing with “future unforeseen events”. Obviously, the climate crisis is delivering plenty of unforeseen events which are only accelerating and will continue into the future.

Don’t forget the $220,000,000 it has cost us (so far) for just a few sites at Uranium City, where the ore grade was less than 1% uranium oxide. At Cluff Lake the ore grade reached 6%.

Orano, a French multinational corporation, must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Val Drummond, Prince Albert
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