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The tragic nuclear history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Six Million dead, The Congo Holocaust has its origins in minerals plunder and colonialism  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3011373848, By Linda Pentz Gunter, 8 Nov 20, 

When you’ve lost family members to the Nazi death camps, it’s a pain that never goes away. Six of my relatives were killed there, four more shot in Polish ghettos and at Forlì. They died long before I was born and were people I never knew. But we have their photographs. Their pain stares out from those images, a perpetual ache.

But what use is endless mourning if no lessons are learned? The most important one surely is that no such Holocaust must ever be allowed to happen again? And yet it has. To almost universal silence. No one speaks of today’s six million dead. They lie beneath the mineral-rich soil of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), invisible and unmourned by the world beyond their country’s borders.

“The Holocaust continues in DRC with the complicity of the international community,” Rodrigue Muganwa Lubulu wrote to me in an email exchange. “Women and girls are raped every day and the dead are counted by tens each day.” He is the program director for CRISPAL Afrique and gave a zoom talk recently hosted by ICAN Germany.

The tragedy of the DRC, the second largest country in Africa, began with the discovery in 1915 of the Shinkolobwe uranium deposit, the richest ever discovered at the time. Its plunder, from 1921 until its closure in 2004, “has been a curse for the powerless community” around the mine, said Lubulu, “because not only have they been forced to abandon their lands, houses and fields in favor of uranium mining, but also all the men were forced to dig out those extremely radioactive materials without protective equipment.”

The cancers and other illnesses that killed those uranium workers are still harming the community today, Lubulu says, even though the mine is now shut down.

The DRC was first colonized by Belgium in 1908 and known as the Belgian Congo until it gained independence in 1960. (It was known as Zaire between 1971 and 1997.) It rapidly became a country of great interest, especially to the United State and the then Soviet Union, engaged in a growing Cold War arms race. Then, as now, the country promised riches to its White pillagers. In the Eastern part of the country, wrote Armin Rosen, in a June 26, 2013 article in The Atlantic, “just feet beneath the surface of the earth are enough minerals to keep the global technology and defense industries humming.”

But during World War II, the uranium mined from Shinkolobwe went to the American Manhattan Project. “More than 70 percent of the uranium in the Hiroshima bomb came from Shinkolobwe,” says Lubulu, whose organization is holding workshops and other events in an effort to persuade the government of the DNC to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

He is haunted by what might have been if the “ore of death” as he calls uranium, had instead been left where it belongs; in the ground. “Without the uranium of Shinkolobwe, the 5th of August 1945 would have been a perfect and productive day in Hiroshima,” he said during his ICAN presentation.

This is supported by a recollection from the Manhattan Project’s Colonel Ken Nichols, who wrote: “Without Sengier’s foresight in stockpiling ore in the United States and aboveground in Africa, we simply would not have had the amounts of uranium needed to justify building the large separation plants and the plutonium reactors.” Edgar Sengier was the then director of Union Minière du Haut Katanga, and had stockpiled 1,200 tonnes of uranium ore in a warehouse in New York. This ore and an additional 3,000 tonnes of ore stored above-ground at the mine was purchased by Nichols for use in the Manhattan Project.

That connection between his homeland and Hiroshima, and the haunting reminders of its outcome so movingly expressed by Japan’s Hibakusha, as the atomic bomb survivors are known, is what spurs Lubulu and CRISPAL to urge on the ratification and implementation of the TPNW.

“You cannot separate nuclear weapons from uranium,” Lubulu said. “Once you have one, you get the other. Once you dig it out, it becomes a monster and you can’t control it anymore.”

Tragically, that monster could be unleashed again at Shinkolobwe. Both France and China are interested in mineral rights there. CRISPAL needs to move fast to educate people about these renewed dangers. But they face dangers of their own in doing so.

Since 1997, when internal and cross-border strife took hold in the DRC, at least six million people have died. Trying to leaflet or hold meetings in such communities, especially if it is in opposition to uranium mining, is fraught with danger. No one involved has forgotten the brutal treatment of Congolese anti-uranium mining activist, Golden Misabiko, who was arrested, imprisoned twice, poisoned by his own government in an apparent, and mercifully unsuccessful, assassination attempt, separated from his family and forced into exile.

Despite this, Lubulu believes that, above all, love will find a way. “There is no door that enough love cannot open,” he said in concluding his presentation. Hopefully, the rest of the world will start sending some love in Congo’s direction.

November 9, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, history, indigenous issues, Uranium | Leave a comment

EDF trucks enriched uranium to the unfinished Flamanville nuclear reactor. Why so much in advance of the need for it?

Reuters 26th Oct 2020, A first truck responsible for transporting enriched uranium to the EPR
reactor in Flamanville (Manche) left Monday morning from the Framatome
plant in Romans-sur-Isère (Drôme), according to anti-nuclear associations
who denounce an EDF “maneuver” to “make it impossible to question”
the project.

Associations, including Greenpeace, France Nature
Environnement and several anti-nuclear collectives, believe in a press
release that “nothing guarantees” that the EPR “can work one day”
and therefore consider that the fact of storing fuel there now is “an
aberration”. They also consider that “the arrival of fuel in Flamanville
also questions the security of the site” and stress that this first
delivery opens “a ballet of trucks which will last several months”.

https://fr.reuters.com/article/idFRL8N2HH2HL

Greenpeace 26th Oct 2020,  EDF has just obtained the authorization to transport new fuel to the
Flamanville EPR nuclear reactor site. A first truck left at 8 am Monday,
October 26 from Romans-sur-Isère, in Drôme, and arrived in the evening at
Flamanville, in Manche. In the coming weeks, these nuclear road convoys
will therefore multiply… As if the EPR were ready to start. Yet this is
far, very far from being the case. Why such a rush, when the EPR is
accumulating delays? EDF once again adopts the strategy of a fait accompli,
despite common sense.

https://www.greenpeace.fr/epr-de-flamanville-du-combustible-pour-un-projet-obsolete/

October 29, 2020 Posted by | France, politics, Uranium | Leave a comment

BHP abandons plan to expand Olympic Dam uranium mine – a sign foe the future

 

Wire 21st Oct 2020, The news this week that mining giant BHP will not continue with its long planned multi-billion dollar expansion of its Olympic Dam uranium and copper project is a sign that the market is turning against the controversial mineral.

It spells good news for the future of renewables but leaves the problem of leftover radioactive waste at Olympic Dam. There is no decision to change tack and mine the many many rare earths which also exist at the site.

http://thewire.org.au/story/bhps-rejection-of-uranium-a-sign-of-the-future/

October 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

France’s anti nuclear activists to train citizen scientists to measure radioactivity levels around a nuclear site

La Depeche 17th Oct 2020, The actinists who have been mobilizing on the ground for years against the
Orano-Malvesi plant (conversion and enrichment of uranium ore), want to
train citizens to take samples themselves to measure the radioactivity
around the nuclear site.

https://www.ladepeche.fr/2020/10/17/malvesi-des-citoyens-experts-en-radioactivite-nucleaire-9144930.php

October 20, 2020 Posted by | France, Uranium | Leave a comment

Australia faces costly cleanup of Ranger uranium mine, still struggling with pollution legacy of other uraniu mines

October 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia may be able to produce its own nuclear fuel – with its uranium reserves

September 24, 2020 Posted by | politics, Uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The dangerous and deadly toll of uranium mining, on Indian communities

Child with cerebral palsy, in uraniummining region Dungridih village. Jaduguda, photo by Subhrajit Sen.
[Photos] Suffering in the town powering India’s nuclear dreams. Mongabay, BY SUBHRAJIT SEN ON 4 SEPTEMBER 2020

  • Uranium is a vital mineral for India’s ambitious nuclear power programme. Out of the seven states with uranium reserves, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh have currently operating mines.
  • In Jharkhand’s Jaduguda region, which has India’s oldest uranium mines, local communities narrate stories of suffering due to degrading health and the environment. The government, however, denies any ill-impact of uranium mining on people.
  • The Indian government is aiming to increase uranium exploration and mining.
  • This photo essay features images taken between 2016-2019 of residents of villages around uranium mines in Jharkhand. Some of these photos contain sensitive content.

Anamika Oraom, 16, of village Dungridih, around a kilometre away from Narwa Pahar uranium mine in Jharkhand, wants to study. But she cannot, owing to severe headaches that come up periodically, triggered by a malignant tumour on her face. Sanjay Gope, 18, cannot walk and is confined to his wheelchair. Haradhan Gope, 20, can study, walk, talk, but owing to a physical deformity, his head is much smaller in proportion to his body.

There are many more, young and old, in the village Bango, adjacent to Jaduguda uranium mine in Jharkhand, whose lives and death highlight the ill-effects of uranium mining, say the villagers.

Uranium is a naturally occurring radioactive mineral and is vital to India’s nuclear power programme. At present (till August 31, 2020), India’s installed nuclear power capacity is 6780 megawatts (MW). The country aims to produce 40,000 MW of nuclear power by 2030.

The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) is involved in the mining and processing uranium ore in the country. According to the UCIL, mining operations at Jaduguda began in 1967, and it is India’s first uranium mine.

In the 25-kilometre radius of Jaduguda, there are other uranium deposits at Bhatin, Narwa Pahar, Turamdih, Banduhurang, Mohuldih, and Bagjata. While UCIL claims that Jaduguda mine has created a large skill base for uranium mining and the mining industry, local communities point out that their lives and land have changed irreversibly.

The villagers complain that the hills surrounding Jaduguda, dug up to create ‘tailing ponds,’ have proven to be a severe health hazard. A tailing pond is an area where leftover material is stored after the excavated ore is treated to extract uranium. Communities argue that these ponds have led to groundwater and river contamination.

Namita Soren of village Dungridih said, “This radioactive element has become a part of our daily life.”

“Children are born with physical disabilities or people with cancer. But our sorrow doesn’t end there,” said Soren who had three miscarriages before giving birth to a child born with physical deformities.

Ghanshyam Birulee, the co-founder of the Jharkhandi Organisation Against Radiation (JOAR), said that villagers earlier marked certain forest areas as ‘cursed’ – a woman passing through the area was believed be affected by an evil gaze and suffer a miscarriage or people would feel dizzy. These areas coincided with the forest spaces around tailing ponds. In cultural translation, the regions surrounding tailing ponds became infested with ‘evil spirits.’ But as the people became more aware, they connected their misery to the mining operations.

A 2003 study by Tata Institute of Social Sciences emphasised that 18 percent of women in the region suffered miscarriages/stillbirth between 1998 and 2003, 30 percent reported some sort of problem in conception, and most women complained of fatigue and weakness.

When asked the reason for opposing the UCIL’s mining project, Birulee said, “Before mining started, people never used to have diseases like these – children were not handicapped, women were not suffering from miscarriages, people didn’t have tuberculosis or cancer. People had ordinary illnesses, cold and cough, that got cured by traditional medicines. But today, even the doctors are not able to diagnose diseases. It all emerged after uranium mining started.”

India has uranium reserves in Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. It is currently operating mines in Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The country has a detailed plan to become self-sufficient in uranium production by achieving a nearly ten-fold rise by 2031-32, including expansion from existing mines and opening new mines. However, to augment supply until then, it has signed a long-term contract with Uzbekistan (in 2019) to supply 1,100 metric tons of natural uranium ore concentrates during 2022 -2026. Similar agreements have been signed with overseas suppliers from various other countries like Canada, Kazakhstan, and France to supply uranium ore.

No help from the government or politicians

Birulee feels that the political class is aware of the problem but that has not translated into safeguarding villagers’ lives. “Whoever is elected from here – legislator or parliamentarian – has never raised our issue about radiation either in the state legislature or parliament. If they raise our issue, I am sure the government will take some action to resolve people’s issues,” said Birulee.

In March 2020, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha about public health hazards due to India’s uranium mines.

Rudy asked whether the central government has reports of hazardous activities like radioactive slurry being stored in the open, causing health hazards to people residing in adjacent areas of uranium mines in the country, and, if so, the action taken on it.

While replying to the question, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, refuted any such impact. ………..

Birulee reflects on the opposing conditions that he has witnessed. For him, it is impossible to leave behind his land, livelihood, and traditions. But for people close to the mines and tailing ponds, “the only solution is that from this region – from this radiation zone – people should be rehabilitated to a safer place. Else they’ll be surrounded by the same problems.”

Local livelihood options impacted

The people note that displacement and then deforestation for uranium mining robbed them of their land and livelihood, and later cursed them with health impacts.

Though the company and those in power deny any ill-impact on local ecology and livelihood, locals alleged that small-scale production of bidis is also hampered due to the low quality of tendu leaves. They suspect that the trees have been exposed to contaminated groundwater.

Villagers said that with expansion of mining large tracts of sal, sarjom, and teak trees are being wiped out. The trees are essential for the communities’ sacred rituals and traditional activities.

Ashish Birulee, photojournalist and member of JOAR, said that the route for transporting uranium ore is the same used by the public. He says the resulting pollution from the dust has a long-term impact on health and ecology.

Ashish adds that the mining company cannot ignore the most significant factor – the experience of people living in this area. “The experience of people is nothing less than any study or research. It can’t be denied. UCIL is not ready to admit that there are problems. It is because if it admits it would have to compensate people. Peoples’ experience shows that before 1967 there were no such issues, but it started after mining took off. If you look at the population of Jaduguda, there are a lot of people with disabilities. But if you go about 15 kilometres away, there are no such problems.”

“As far as a solution is concerned, once you start mining at any place, there is no solution. The company will mine here till the uranium ore exists. It has a lease for 45-50 years and after mining is over here, it will move to a new mine and extract resources. But the mining waste will be left here,” said Ashish. …… https://india.mongabay.com/2020/09/photos-suffering-in-the-town-powering-indias-nuclear-dreams/

 

September 5, 2020 Posted by | health, India, Uranium | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear fuel imports almost zero in 2019 as industry stagnates

August 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan, Uranium | Leave a comment

Radiation-related health hazards to uranium miners

July 8, 2020 Posted by | health, Uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium mining protests in Russia

Anti–nuclear resistance in Russia: problems, protests, reprisals [Full Report 2020]    Report “Anti–nuclear resistance in Russia: problems, protests, reprisals” Produced by RSEU’s program “Against nuclear and radioaсtive threats”
Published: Saint Petersburg, Russia, 2020

“……..Uranium mining protest
In the Kurgan region, Rosatom’s subsidiary company, Dalur, has been mining uranium and the local communities fear an environmental disaster. In the summer of 2019, the state environmental appraisal revealed a discrepancy between Dalur’s documentation and the Russian legislation

requirements, but the company started the deposit’s development anyway at the end of 2019.(22)
• The ‘Dobrovolnoe’ uranium deposit is located in a floodplain of the Tobol river basin. This means that all the water that flows into the river will pass through the aquifer, flushing out radioactive and toxic compounds into the surrounding environment. (23)
• Since 2017, Kurgan activists have been protesting against the development of the deposit. They have appealed to the authorities and begun protests. One of their videos, ‘Uranium is Death for Kurgan’, has already reached 50,000 views. (24)
Several times, activists have tried to start a referendum and demand an independent environmental review, but so far, have received only refusals from the local officials.In February 2018, Natalia Shulyatieva, the spouse of activist Andrey Shulyatiev and mother of three children, died after falling into a coma. (25)
Activists believe this occurred in reaction to learning that Dalur had filed a lawsuit against her husband, accusing him of undermining the company’s reputation. The lawsuit was withdrawn following Shulyatieva’s death. (26)
In March 2020, the Federal Security Service in the Kurgan Region initiated a criminal case against local eco–activist Lyubov Kudryashova for her ‘public justification of terrorism using the Internet’. (27)

Activists attribute her persecution to her work at the Public Monitoring Fund for the Environmental Condition and the Population Welfare which she led back in 2017. The Foundation has repeatedly published information on the possible environmental damage resulting from Dalur’s mining activity. (28)

9

Rosatom Importing uranium waste
In the fall of 2019, environmentalists revealed that radioactive and toxic waste (uranium hexafluoride, UF6)were being imported from Germany through the port of Amsterdam into Russia. This is the waste from the uranium enrichment process which will be sent to the Urals or Siberia and stored in containers above the ground. Thus, under the auspices of a commercial transaction, the German uranium–enriching enterprise, Urenco, avoids its nuclear waste problem, while Rosatom profits by taking the hazardous waste into Russia.
• In response to this transaction, the groups Russian Social–Ecological Union, Ecodefense and Greenpeace Russia called on Russian civil society to protest. More than 30 organisations and movements joined the common statement (29), and various demonstrations have taken place in Russia, as well as in Germany and the Netherlands. (30)
As a result of protests, the question of importing radioactive waste was taken up by the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg (31) and the transportation of the waste was delayed for three months.However, in March 2020, when people in Russia were further restricted from protests during the Covid–19 virus quarantine, the import of radioactive waste was resumed through the port of the less populated town of Ust–Luga in Leningrad Region. Additional organisations and residents of the Leningrad region then decided to join the earlier anti–nuclear statement and protest. (32)
• Following these protests, a number of activists have faced persecution. Like Sosnovy Bor, Novouralskis a nuclear industry–dominated and closed city of Sverdlovsk region, and is the end destination of the transported uranium hexafluoride. The city has rarely seen protests before. In response to a series of one–person protests, authorities have initiated legal cases against three pensioners in the beginning of December 2019 (33). Charges were later dismissed. Another example is Rashid Alimov, an expert from Greenpeace Russia, who protested in the center of Saint Petersburg. Later the same day, two police officers together with six other people without uniform detained Alimov from in front of his house. He then faced charges and a substantial fine. (34)
Charges were later dropped.Environmental organisations that had previously opposed the import of uranium waste were listed as Foreign Agents.
Ecodefense was the first of such, listed in 2014. In 2019, the pressure continued and the organisation’s leader, Alexandra Korolyova, was targeted. (35)
Five criminal cases were initiated against her, which forced her to leave the country. (36)…..”

https://www.facebook.com/notes/rna-international/antinuclear-resistance-in-russia-problems-protests-reprisals-full-report-2020/3498100043537008/

June 6, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Uranium | Leave a comment

“Get the Hell Off”: The Indigenous Fight to Stop a Uranium Mine in the Black Hills

An unidentified member of AIM Native American woman sits with her rifle at ready on steps of building in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, March 2, 1973. Indians still have control of town having seized it on Tuesday. Eleven hostages they had taken were finally released. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Get the Hell Off”: The Indigenous Fight to Stop a Uranium Mine in the Black Hills

Can the Lakota win a “paper war” to save their sacred sites?

Mother Jones,  BY DELILAH FRIEDLER; PHOTOS BY DANNY WILCOX FRAZIER, MARCH/APRIL 2020 ISSUE, Regina Brave remembers the moment the first viral picture of her was taken. It was 1973, and 32-year-old Brave had taken up arms in a standoff between federal marshals and militant Indigenous activists in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Brave had been assigned to guard a bunker on the front lines and was holding a rifle when a reporter leaped from a car to snap her photo. She remembers thinking that an image of an armed woman would never make the papers—“It was a man’s world,” she says—but the bespectacled Brave, in a peacoat with hair pulled back,   was on front pages across the country the following Sunday……..

Today, Brave and other Lakota elders are staring down yet another encroachment on their historic lands: a 10,600-acre uranium mine proposed to be built in the Black Hills. The Dewey-Burdock mine would suck up as much as 8,500 gallons of groundwater per minute from the Inyan Kara aquifer to extract as much as 10 million pounds of ore in total. Lakota say the project violates both the 1868 US-Lakota treaty and federal environmental laws by failing to take into account the sacred nature of the site. If the mine is built, they say, burial grounds would be destroyed and the region’s waters permanently tainted.
A legal win for the Lakota would represent an unprecedented victory for a tribe over corporations such as Power­tech, the Canadian-owned firm behind Dewey-­Burdock, that have plundered the resource-rich hills. And it could set precedents forcing federal regulators to protect Indigenous sites and take tribes’ claims more seriously. The fight puts the Lakota on a collision course with the Trump administration, which has close ties to energy companies and is doubling down on nuclear power while fast-tracking new permits and slashing environmental protectionseven using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to further roll back regulations. All of this makes Black Hills mineral deposits more attractive than they’ve been in decades.
For Brave, the Dewey-Burdock mine is just the latest battle in a long war to stop settlers’ affronts to Lakota lands and sovereignty. “They’re taking so much from [the earth] and not giving anything back,” Brave tells me, a hand-rolled cigarette dangling from her fingers. “I’m thinking we should say to them, ‘Get the hell off. Your rent is over.’”
……..
When the gold rush petered out, mining companies pivoted to silver, tungsten, iron, and limestone. In 1951, uranium was discovered. Within 20 years, there were more than 150 uranium mines centered on a small boomtown called Edgemont, in Paha Sapa’s southern foothills, where the Oglala once made their winter camp………
The southern foothills are rocky and quiet, but just north, bikers and families in RVs clog the highways to visit abandoned gold mines, old-timey saloons, and the main attraction, Mount Rushmore, which was carved into a sacred mountain known to the Lakota as the Six Grandfathers. “We call it the Shrine of Hypocrisy,” says Tonia Stands, an Oglala Lakota who has been one of Pine Ridge’s most persistent voices against uranium mining.
For decades, Lakota activists have raised alarms about the risks uranium mining poses to their communities. In 1962, radioactive material seeped from a broken dam into the Cheyenne River, upstream from Pine Ridge. Mining ceased in 1973, but the reservation continues to grapple with epidemic levels of birth defects, cancer, and kidney disease. Today, Pine Ridge has the lowest life expectancy of any US county. The rampant health issues help explain why reservation leaders took swift action to stem the spread of coronavirus before they even confirmed their first case.
While no evidence has definitively linked their health problems to mining, many Lakota believe that uranium contamination is partly to blame, and they point to the Environmental Protection Agency’s settlements in response to the effects of mining in the Navajo Nation, which acknowledged links between high levels of uranium in soil and drinking water and cancer, kidney disease, and reproductive issues on the reservation…….
Stands wears her hair in a single black braid reaching all the way down her back. Her grandmother was a “uranium fighter,” as was her late uncle Wilmer Mesteth, who helped found the Oglalas’ Tribal Historic Preservation Office. In 2010, three years after Powertech began the process of licensing Dewey-Burdock, Mesteth and the tribe filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which oversees uranium mine permitting, to stop construction. They argued that the project was moving forward in violation of their sovereign will as well as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the landmark 1970 law requiring federal agencies to document the impacts of all projects they build or license. According to the tribe and local geologists, Powertech failed to collect enough data to prove that the mine would not contaminate groundwater, and did not adequately assess how it would affect sites of cultural importance. …..
Adding a layer of oddity to the whole situation, Powertech is so far a mining company only on paper. It has never produced an ounce of ore and can only keep litigating as long as investors remain convinced that footing its bills will eventually pay off. Powertech anticipates the mine will net about $150 million, yet it says it’s already sunk $10 million into the NRC license, not including litigation or staffing costs. Its parent company, Azarga Uranium, trades as an underregulated penny stock; investment firm Haywood Securities rates its risk factor as “very high.”…..
 today, Powertech is just one of several companies applying to open new mines, anticipating that an administration bent on deregulation, and the appeal of nuclear power as a climate-friendly energy source, could increase profitability……
Trump’s proposed 2021 budget would allocate $150 million to stock a new reserve with domestically mined uranium. The share prices of US mining companies jumped after the report’s release, while factors related to COVID-19 caused the global price of uranium to surge throughout March and April.
Trump has found other ways to boost mining and energy interests in and around reservations and sacred Native sites.  …..
He’s also waging war on the cornerstone of environmental law: …..
Last August, Brave and a dozen tribal members gathered in a hotel ballroom in Rapid City for the latest hearing in their case. The NRC judges, three white men, sat at one end of the room, a photo of Mount Rushmore at their backs. Having lost their claims about environmental harm, the tribe’s lawyers are still trying to convince regulators that the uranium mine would irreparably damage Lakota burial grounds, places of ceremony, and other sacred sites………
Energy and mining companies are treated “like clients instead of regulated entities,” says Jeff Parsons, one of the tribe’s lawyers. The NRC and its permittees “are in absolute lockstep, opposed to citizen and tribal involvement” in a process designed to protect exactly that.
It’s not just the NRC. After the agency rejected the tribe’s environmental arguments, Parsons filed an appeal with the DC Circuit Court. In 2018, the court agreed that the NRC violated the law by licensing Dewey-­Burdock even after its own review panel found “significant deficiency” in the cultural review. But the court declined to vacate the license, citing Powertech’s lament that its stock price “would plummet.”……
After the hearing, Brave and Stands met in a nearby park with the other Lakota who’d driven from Pine Ridge. Sharing their huge pot of stew with homeless people there, most of the group concurred that their case looked strong. But the judges were unmoved: In December, they ruled that the NRC had satisfied NEPA’s requirement to take a “hard look” simply by making a “reasonable effort,” resolving the last objection to the license. “The system is set up to fail our people,” Stands says.
When Brave was just a kid, her grand­father made her memorize the text of the violated 1868 treaty. That came in handy when tribes and the Army Corps of Engineers, which issues permits for projects that cross waterways, were fighting over the Dakota Access pipeline. “When we were at Standing Rock, they said, ‘This is Army Corps of Engineers land.’ And I said, ‘Bullshit. This is treaty territory. The Army Corps of Engineers is not a country and cannot make a treaty with us. We’re sovereign.’”
For the Lakota, sovereignty means the right to determine for themselves what happens on their lands. ……
A shift from merely consulting tribes to making projects contingent on tribes’ involvement and input, a central tenet of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, would represent a monumental change. Under such a policy, the Keystone XL pipeline would likely be blocked by the tribes whose lands it would cross. In 2019, the state of Washington became the first to require the “free, prior, and informed consent” of recognized tribes on any project that “directly and tangibly affects” their people, lands, or sacred sites. In both federal and state supreme courts, tribes are beginning to win more rulings in favor of their long-­forgotten treaty rights…….
A shift from merely consulting tribes to making projects contingent on tribes’ involvement and input, a central tenet of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, would represent a monumental change. Under such a policy, the Keystone XL pipeline would likely be blocked by the tribes whose lands it would cross. In 2019, the state of Washington became the first to require the “free, prior, and informed consent” of recognized tribes on any project that “directly and tangibly affects” their people, lands, or sacred sites. In both federal and state supreme courts, tribes are beginning to win more rulings in favor of their long-­forgotten treaty rights………..

In October, Brave spoke at Magpie Buffalo Organizing’s inaugural “No Uranium in Treaty Territory” summit, which offered a crash course on tribal sovereignty. The activists are closely tracking the various Keystone XL permits, which the Rosebud Sioux Tribe is challenging in court as a treaty vio­lation. As the threat of both uranium and gold mining looms, there’s talk of occupying land in the Black Hills, as the American Indian Movement did in 1981.

For most of her life, Brave hadn’t understood why her grandfather made her memorize the treaty. It didn’t stop the Black Hills gold rush in the 19th century or the uranium boom in the 20th. Nobody knows how many sacred sites were destroyed—but now there’s a chance to protect those that remain……….
 https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/05/the-black-hills-are-not-for-sale/

May 9, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium, USA | 4 Comments

Low Oil Prices May Kill Off The Next Nuclear Boom Before It Begins

Low Oil Prices May Kill Off The Next Nuclear Boom Before It Begins, Oil Price, By Alex Kimani – Apr 27, 2020
“…… the third nuclear gold rush could be dead in the water amid low energy prices and stiff public opposition towards a sector that has increasingly fallen out of favour.

Opening up the West

On Thursday, the Nuclear Fuel Working Group (NFWG) made recommendations to the U.S. Administration to open up ~1,500 acres outside the Grand Canyon for uranium production, arguing that the country needs to beef up domestic production to avoid an over-reliance on foreign sources.

The organization has recommended spending $1.5 billion over ten years buying uranium from American producers to create a uranium stockpile that would necessitate buying about 10 million pounds a year.

The working group’s report claims that the United States also needs more uranium for two other purposes:

–  Low-enriched uranium for the production of tritium for nuclear weapons through the 2040s, and

–  Highly enriched uranium to be used as fuel for Navy nuclear reactors through the 2050s

The slow and painful demise of the American uranium mining industry can be chalked up to the fact that the country is not endowed with the most abundant and most accessible uranium deposits, with resources in Canada and Australia boasting significantly higher uranium content and a lower production cost per unit.

American miners have had trouble making a profit from their operations even at the best of times. Consequently, the industry has historically had to rely heavily on government largesse.

During the golden age of American uranium that spanned from 1955-1980, the U.S. government offered fat uranium bonuses in a bid to shore up its stockpiles during the Cold War. These included 10-year price guarantees for certain kinds of ore as well as $10,000 discovery and production bonuses for new sources, which pencils out to nearly $100K in today’s dollars. The incentives set off a mad gold rush in the nation’s vast Western region as every man with a jeep and a Geiger counter set out to make the next significant discovery.

The program was a resounding success: U.S. uranium stockpiles skyrocketed so much that the government stopped paying out the bonuses sometime in the 1960s…….

By 1987, the tables had turned completely, with the country importing nearly 15 million pounds of uranium while domestic production clocked in at just 13 million.

Growing competition weighed heavily on domestic production while the country’s love affair with nuclear energy got its first dose of the harsh reality of nuclear technology thanks to the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in 1979 as well as the Chernobyl reactor meltdown of 1986 that turned an entire Ukrainian city into a ghost town. Meanwhile, utilities began to grow weary of the time and cost of building reactors, which further depressed demand.

The result: U.S. uranium production had sunk to a 35-year low by the time the last wave of reactors came online in 1990…….

Brief Renaissance

The U.S. uranium industry enjoyed a renaissance in the early 2000s as falling global stockpiles, and booming economies in China and India drove new demand.

Unfortunately, this, too, was not to last as the financial crisis of 2008 destroyed demand, while the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 led to another severe backlash that set off a new round of reactor closures while Germany set to phase out the technology by 2022.

The third nuclear gold rush is starting off on very shaky grounds, too.

First off, the world’s strategic uranium reserves are not in any immediate danger of running out. In 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that the global nuclear fleet has enough stockpiles for 130 years, more than enough for the markets to respond to any shortfalls rapidly as they have done in the past.  …..

But more importantly, trying to open up the west for uranium mining is bound to be met with stiff resistance and widespread public uproar.

For all its setbacks over the years, nuclear power has remained broadly popular in the United States. However, the turning point came in 2016 when the majority of people turned against the technology.

The latest poll last year revealed that American public opinion remains split over nuclear power, with 49 percent of U.S. adults either strongly favor (17 percent) or somewhat favor (32 percent) it in power generation while 49 percent either strongly oppose (21 percent) or somewhat oppose (28 percent) its use……

The funny thing is that Gallup has found that American opinion on nuclear power does not have much to do with radiation or safety concerns; rather, it is driven by prevailing fuel prices.  …..

a 2020 Colorado College Conservation in the West Poll found that 71 percent of voters in the Mountain West and 77 percent of Arizona voters oppose the development of new uranium mines on public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon. It’s the kind of backlash that no president wants to deal with, whether they are seeking re-election or not. https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Low-Oil-Prices-May-Kill-Off-The-Next-Nuclear-Boom-Before-It-Begins.html

April 30, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Trump administration to boost uranium mining, weaken environmental regulations

April 26, 2020 Posted by | politics, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Trump’s new uranium plans threaten Grand Canyon area

April 26, 2020 Posted by | environment, Uranium, USA | 1 Comment

Outcry as uranium industry exploits Covid 19 to call for financial bailout

 

April 18, 2020 Posted by | politics, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment