Monday, October 4, 2010

The North Deserves Better

A Two-Part Series on “How Environmental Protection is Being Compromised in the North”

By Jim Harding
RTown News

Uranium shovel in northern Sask.
The North Saskatchewan Environmental Quality Committee, or NSEQC, was started in 1995 “to help bridge (the) information gap between northerners, government and the uranium mining industry.” It assumes that “by talking and learning together all participants help ensure that uranium mining activity takes place in an environmentally responsible manner…” Bill Hutchinson, the Minister responsible, says it is “promoting trust and understanding among…communities, the uranium mining industry and the government regulators…”

The key question is how NSEQC works and whether it has any major impact on what companies do. It’s good that it’s decentralized into three Environmental Quality Committees (EQCs), one each from Athabasca, the West Side and South Central area, but it’s not independent from the uranium industry or the government which promotes it.

It’s administrated by the Northern Mines Monitoring Secretariat and has “staff representation from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC)” whose independent regulatory status was compromised when Prime Minister Harper removed its head for trying to ensure the safety of the Chalk River nuclear plant. And the uranium companies Cameco and Areva provide NSEQC “technical expertise, arranging and hosting mine site visits and … various workshops.” The viewpoints presented by company “experts” can hardly be considered balanced. The North deserves better!

Part One HERE.
Part Two HERE.

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