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Federal judge rules that USA govt could be liable for uranium cleanup on Navajo land

Gov’t Is Owner In Navajo Land Uranium Cleanup Suit: Judge, By Kat Sieniuc. Law360, New York (August 16, 2017, ) — An Arizona federal judge on Tuesday ruled that the federal government qualifies under environmental cleanup law as an owner of more than a dozen old uranium sites on Navajo Nation land and could be liable for cleaning up the area.

U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell partially granted El Paso Natural Gas Company LLC’s bid for a quick win against the United States and U.S. the Department of the Interior, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Department of Energy, among other…https://www.law360.com/articles/954711/gov-t-is-owner-in-navajo-land-uranium-cleanup-suit-judge

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Legal, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

The Death Spiral Of Nuclear Energy And The Demise Of Uranium Miners

Seeking Alpha, Jul. 28, 2017  Includes: BBLBHPCCOEGRAFNXERIOURA Caiman Valores   Contrarian, long-term horizon, research analyst, value 

Summary

  •  Uranium is caught in a protracted slump that is sharply impacting uranium miners.
  • Despite claims that prices will rise sentiment towards nuclear power has turned unfavorable.
  • Demand growth for uranium remains muted which along with growing supplies will keep pressure on prices.
  • There is no indication of a sustainable recovery in sight making uranium miners value traps.

There has been a surge in interest in uranium explorers and miners in recent months because of growing optimism surrounding the outlook for the radioactive metal. This has sparked a rash of upgrades for a number of uranium miners and explorers including Cameco Corp……

The marked uptick in the outlook for uranium is long over due with the radioactive metal caught in prolonged slump that now sees it trading at less than a sixth of its 2007 high………

Despite the proclamations of some analysts and market pundits there are distinct signs that point to a sustained recovery in uranium being unlikely and that the long-term prognosis for the fuel is poor.

What is driving this positive outlook?  The progressively positive outlook for uranium mining stems from a belief that the current global supply glut which has been weighing heavily on uranium prices will be eliminated over the next two-years.

There is also the expectation among market pundits that as demand for the radioactive metal begins to grow global supplies will diminish. This is because the prolonged slump according to those pundits has led to a dearth in investment in exploration and mine development which will impact uranium production in coming months.

Furthermore, uranium miners have been forced to shutter high cost production because it was uneconomic at current prices. The slump in uranium particularly in the wake of the Fukushima disaster sent one of the world’s largest uranium miners Energy Resources of Australia (OTCPK:EGRAF) also known as ERA, which at its peak was supplying 10% of the world’s yellow cake, into terminal decline……(registered readers only) https://seekingalpha.com/article/4091999-death-spiral-nuclear-energy-demise-uranium-miners

July 29, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

People’s health, and the environment are hit hard by uranium mining in Utah

Tucked inside the Trump administration’s proposed budget is $703 million in funding for nuclear weapons. Although that’s about 30 percent less than last year, you would hardly know it here in the heart of Utah’s canyon country, where the nation’s last operating conventional uranium mill—the White Mesa Mill—is forging ahead.

The mill sits on an arid mesa just a few miles east of the newly established Bears Ears National Monument, with Monument Valley to the south and Canyonlands National Park to the north, and is owned by a subsidiary of the Canadian energy giant Energy Fuels Resources, which also owns and operates uranium mines around the Grand Canyon. Today, despite a litany of risks, Energy Fuels Resources is asking Utah to renew the mill’s license, which expired in 2007 and has been in “timely renewal” ever since.

Energy Fuels has influential friends, including high-powered lobbyists Andrew Wheeler, who worked on the Trump campaign and was involved with transition planning, and Mary Bono, the former California congresswoman and widow of Sonny Bono. So far, Utah seems to be welcoming the permit renewal as an economic boon for rural San Juan County, though the mill is staunchly opposed by its nearest neighbors—the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and White Mesa residents who are mostly tribal members. Few have forgotten what happened to two towns and surrounding communities after uranium mills there were shuttered.

When the Monticello uranium mill closed, the environmental mess it left behind became two federal Superfund sites, one of which encompassed the entire community of Monticello. A $250 million taxpayer-funded cleanup effort ensued, even as cancers, respiratory problems, reproductive issues, allergies and birth defects plagued the residents of this small uranium town.

Decades earlier, child and adolescent leukemia clusters appeared in the community. Residents suspected these ailments were linked to long-term uranium exposure, and a 2007 Utah Department of Health study found the mill to be a “plausible” cause of elevated rates of certain cancers.

In both Moab and Monticello, uranium mills have permanently contaminated the groundwater and poisoned surface water—both scarce resources in the arid West. Adding insult to injury, the Moab mill owner declared bankruptcy and stuck taxpayers with the cleanup bill. The site still isn’t completely cleaned up, and with cuts to the Department of Energy’s budget, cleanup could be delayed indefinitely. Why, despite this history of mismanagement just up the road from White Mesa, do state regulators seem content to let history repeat itself?

Already the problems that have emerged at the White Mesa Mill look a lot like the problems plaguing Monticello and Moab. The shallow groundwater aquifer underneath the mill is contaminated with heavy metals, and the bond posted by the company to fund cleanup is laughably low—about $22 million, which is less than a fifth of professional cleanup-cost estimates.

If Utah regulators fail to stand up for the public interest now, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, southeastern Utahns and ultimately American taxpayers risk paying a high price. But nowhere are the risks higher than in White Mesa. The tribal community is immediately down-gradient and often downwind from the mill. Community members describe finding rainbow-colored meat when butchering animals hunted near the mill site. When the wind blew from the direction of the mill, people kept their children inside, reporting that they smelled strong chemical odors.

In both 2012 and 2013, the mill’s own reports show that it emitted more radon—a cancer-causing air pollutant—than the Clean Air Act allows. And in 2015, 2016 and 2017, radioactive spills occurred as materials were transported to the mill for processing. Numerous cases of cancer have been reported in White Mesa, although no epidemiological studies have begun.

Still, Utah regulators seem unconvinced that the risks are real, and now the state has opened the mill’s license renewal to public comment. With Energy Fuels lobbying in Utah and in Washington, D.C., Americans have only until July 31, 2017, to urge regulators to stop continued environmental injustice at White Mesa. At the very least, state regulators should require Energy Fuels to post a substantial bond to guarantee that the company pays for the mill’s cleanup. It’s time to stop asking taxpayers to pay for an industry’s toxic mess.

Stephanie Malin is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the op ed service of High Country News (hcn.org). She is the author of The Price of Nuclear Power: Uranium Communities and Environmental Justice and is an assistant professor at Colorado State University.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | environment, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Utah’s White Mesa Uranium Mill – will the State allow further pollution from this site?

Don’t let this uranium mill repeat history http://www.hcn.org/articles/opinion-pollution-a-uranium-mill-in-utah-threatens-to-repeat-a-history-of-pollution The White Mesa Mill’s license is up for renewal under the Trump administration. Stephanie Malin  July 19, 2017 Tucked inside the Trump administration’s proposed budget is $703 million in funding for nuclear weapons. Although that’s about 30 percent less than last year, you would hardly know it here in the heart of Utah’s canyon country, where the nation’s last operating conventional uranium mill — the White Mesa Mill — is forging ahead.

 The mill sits on an arid mesa just a few miles east of the newly established Bears Ears National Monument, with Monument Valley to the south and Canyonlands National Park to the north, and is owned by a subsidiary of the Canadian energy giant Energy Fuels Resources, which also owns and operates uranium mines around the Grand Canyon. Today, despite a litany of risks, Energy Fuels Resources is asking Utah to renew the mill’s license, which expired in 2007 and has been in “timely renewal” ever since.

Energy Fuels has influential friends, including high-powered lobbyists Andrew Wheeler, who worked on the Trump campaign and was involved with transition planning, and Mary Bono, the former California congresswoman and widow of Sonny Bono. So far, Utah seems to be welcoming the permit renewal as an economic boon for rural San Juan County, though the mill is staunchly opposed by its nearest neighbors — the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and White Mesa residents who are mostly tribal members. Few have forgotten what happened to two towns and surrounding communities after uranium mills there were shuttered.

When the Monticello uranium mill closed, the environmental mess it left behind became two federal Superfund sites, one of which encompassed the entire community of Monticello. A $250 million taxpayer-funded cleanup effort ensued, even as cancers, respiratory problems, reproductive issues, allergies and birth defects plagued the residents of this small uranium town. In decades earlier, child and adolescent leukemia clusters appeared in the community. Residents suspected these ailments were linked to long-term uranium exposure, and a 2007 Utah Department of Health study found the mill to be a “plausible” cause of elevated rates of certain cancers.

 In both Moab and Monticello, uranium mills have permanently contaminated the groundwater and poisoned surface water, both scarce resources in the arid West. Adding insult to injury, the Moab mill owner declared bankruptcy and stuck taxpayers with the cleanup bill. The site still isn’t completely cleaned up, and with cuts to the Department of Energy’s budget, cleanup could be delayed indefinitely. Why, despite this history of mismanagement just up the road from White Mesa, do state regulators seem content to let history repeat itself?

Already, the problems that have emerged at the White Mesa Mill look a lot like the problems plaguing Monticello and Moab. The shallow groundwater aquifer underneath the mill is contaminated with heavy metals, and the bond posted by the company to fund cleanup is laughably low — about $22 million, which is less than a fifth of professional cleanup-cost estimates.

 If Utah regulators fail to stand up for the public interest now, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, southeastern Utahns, and ultimately American taxpayers risk paying a high price. But nowhere are the risks higher than in White Mesa. The tribal community is immediately down-gradient and often downwind from the mill. Community members describe finding rainbow-colored meat when butchering animals hunted near the mill site. When the wind blew from the direction of the mill, people kept their children inside, reporting that they smelled strong chemical odors.

In both 2012 and 2013, the mill’s own reports show that it emitted more radon — a cancer-causing air pollutant — than the Clean Air Act allows. And in 2015, 2016 and 2017, radioactive spills occurred as materials were transported to the mill for processing. Numerous cases of cancer have been reported in White Mesa, although no epidemiological studies have begun.

Still, Utah regulators seem unconvinced that the risks are real, and now, the state has opened the mill’s license renewal to public comment. With Energy Fuels lobbying in Utah and in Washington, D.C., Americans have only until July 31, 2017, to urge regulators to stop continued environmental injustice at White Mesa. Email comments to dwmrcpublic@utah.gov with the subject line: “Public Comment on White Mesa RML Renewal” or submit comments by mail to Scott Anderson, Director, Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control, P.O. Box 144880, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4850.

 At the very least, state regulators should require Energy Fuels to post a substantial bond to guarantee that the company pays for the mill’s cleanup. It’s time to stop asking taxpayers to pay for an industry’s toxic mess

July 21, 2017 Posted by | environment, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Australian uranium miner Paladin Energy goes into administration

Paladin Energy enters administration, WNN, 03 July 2017  Paladin Energy Ltd has today appointed administrators after it was unable to agree a delay to the repayment of $277 million it owes Electricité de France (EDF). The administrators will continue to operate the company on a business-as-usual basis until further 

Western Australia-based Paladin in February announced plans for a balance sheet restructuring to enable it to meet debts due in April, after plans to sell a 24% stake in the Langer Heinrich uranium mine in Namibia to China’s CNNC Overseas Uranium Holdings failed to progress. The sale of a 30% stake in the Manyingee project in Western Australia to Avira Energy Ltd (formerly MGT Resources), announced at the same time as the CNNC sale in July 2016, also failed to complete.

CNNC, which already owns a 25% joint venture equity stake in the Namibian project, subsequently began a process that could lead to it exercising an option to acquire all of Paladin’s share of Langer Heinrich. This led to the proposal in May of an alternative restructuring plan by Paladin, as the original plan had assumed the company would retain an ongoing interest in its Namibian flagship project.

Paladin is due to pay EDF $277 million by 10 July under a long-term supply agreement signed in 2012. The company said it had approached EDF to grant a “standstill” agreement, which would allow time for the alternative restructure proposal to be implemented. Although terms had been negotiated they had not been signed.

“EDF has now informed Paladin that it is not prepared to enter into a standstill agreement and requires payment of the amount when due on 10 July 2017,” Paladin said today……. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/UF-Paladin-Energy-enters-administration-0307177.html

July 5, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

Trump administration to overturn ban on uranium mining around Grand Canyon?

Will Trump Overturn the Ban on Uranium Mining Around the Grand Canyon? PHOENIX TIMES,  MAY 28, 2017  . 

That moratorium was announced by the Department of the Interior in 2012, and banned new uranium claims until 2032. Existing claims and mines were unaffected.

It was great news to environmental groups like the Grand Canyon Trust, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters, who had spent years pointing out the environmental hazards of uranium mining — particularly the threat of polluting the Colorado River, which provides water to 40 million people in Arizona and the Southwest.

But back in March, Trump signed an executive order promoting “energy independence and economic growth.” It requires heads of each government agency to identify any federal guidelines that are getting in the way of domestic energy production, and tell him which ones can legally be reversed.

“The report shall include specific recommendations that, to the extent permitted by law, could alleviate or eliminate aspects of agency actions that burden domestic energy production,” the executive order states.

While we won’t know for sure until the Department of the Interior submits its report in late July, it’s quite possible that the moratorium on new uranium claims around the Grand Canyon would fall into that category. (The Department of Interior didn’t return a request for comment.)……..http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/advocates-worry-trump-could-overturn-moratorium-on-uranium-mining-at-grand-canyon-9296810

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Indigenous protest against uranium mill in South East Utah

Marcus Atkinson, of Australia, is touring the U.S. promoting a film opposing uranium mining in his country and heard about the White Mesa protest.

“We would like to use this case in our next film to raise international awareness that uranium is too dangerous and is not the answer to our energy needs,” he said.

Ute protesters march to Utah uranium mill, Ute Mountain Utes concerned about health impacts from White Mesa mill, The Journal, By Jim Mimiaga Journal Staff Writer  May 13, 2017 White Mesa, Utah – About 80 protesters opposed to the White Mesa uranium mill in southeast Utah marched three miles along U.S. Highway 191 to the mill’s entrance Saturday.

The protest was organized by members of Ute Mountain Ute tribe, which has a small reservation community three miles from the mill. The mill, which is owned by Energy Fuels, of Toronto, is the only conventional uranium mill operating in the country.

Protesters carried anti-nuclear signs, including “No Uranium, Protect Sacred Lands,” “Water is Life,” and “No Toxic Waste.”

They are concerned about the mill’s potential health impacts on air and water quality, and they object to containment cells at the mill that accept radioactive waste from around the country.

“The dust blowing from uranium ore piles is a concern. Our water comes from wells that are not far from those waste cells. Those things are a big worry for the community,” said Antonio Cly, 22, of the Ute Mountain tribe. He is studying the mill as a student at the University of Utah.

Thelma Whiskers, a Ute elder and founder of the White Mesa Concerned Community group, said her family has been fighting the mill all their lives, and the march was a way to raise awareness of the issues to pass on to the younger generation. Continue reading

May 15, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Uranium company Cameco in trouble: the industry is just not viable

Unviable economics of nuclear power catches up with Cameco, Independent Australia, Jim Green 9 May 2017 Multinational uranium producer Cameco is battling a uranium downturn, the tax office, disinterested customers and Traditional Owners, Dr Jim Green reports. 

ECONOMICS is killing the nuclear power industry.

Westinghouse, a giant of the industry, recently filed for bankruptcy protection and its parent company Toshiba may also go bankrupt — both companies brought undone by $15 billion cost overruns building four reactors.

In France, nuclear utilities EDF and Areva would have gone bankrupt if not for repeated multi-billion-dollar government bailouts — their most immediate problem is cost overruns of $18 billion building just two reactors.

The question arises: will them nuclear power crisis create similar carnage in the uranium industry? Might it bring down a uranium industry giant like Cameco, which provides about 17% of the world’s production from mines in Canada, the U.S. and Kazakhstan?

The short answer is that Cameco will likely survive, but the company has been downsizing continuously for the past five years:

Another 120 workers are to be sacked by May 2017 at three Canadian uranium mines ‒ McArthur River, Key Lake and Cigar Lake ‒ and production at McArthur River, already reduced, will be suspended for six weeks in mid-2017.

Cameco’s revenue dropped US$238 million (AU$321 million) in 2016 and the company posted a US$46 million (AU$62 million) loss for the year. The loss was largely the result of US$267 million (AU$360 million) in impairment charges, including US$91 million (AU$123 million) related to the Rabbit Lake mine and a write-off of the full US$176 million (AU$237 million) value of the Kintyre uranium project in Western Australia.

President Tim Gitzel said:

“I think it’s fair to say that no one, including me, by the way, expected the market would go this low and for this long … market conditions in 2016 were as tough as I have seen them in 30 years.”

Cameco’s “tier-1” mines ‒ McArthur River and Cigar Lake in Canada and the Inkai ISL mine in Kazakhstan ‒ have been largely unaffected by the cutbacks except for the slowdown at McArthur River. But the tier-1 mines aren’t safe, Cameco plans to reduce production by 7% in 2017, the two mines in the U.S. might be sold (if a buyer can be found), and new mines are off the table.

TEPCO cancels billion-dollar contract

Cameco faces a new problem with notorious Japanese company TEPCO ‒ owner of the Fukushima reactors ‒ announcing on January 24 that it had issued a contract termination notice, sparking a 15% drop in Cameco’s share price over the next two days. The termination affects about 9.3 million pounds (4.22 kilos) of uranium oxide due to be delivered until 2028, worth approximately US$959 million (AU$1294 million).

TEPCO argues that a “force majeure” event occurred because it has been unable to operate its nuclear plants in Japan ‒ four reactors at Fukushima Daini and seven reactors at Kashiwazaki Kariwa ‒ for some years due to government regulations relating to reactor restarts in the aftermath of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Cameco plans to fight the contract termination and will pursue “all its legal rights and remedies”.

Gitzel said:

‘They’ve taken delivery under this contract in 2014, 2015 and 2016, so we’re a bit perplexed as to why now all of a sudden they think there’s a case of, as they say, “force majeure”.’ 

TEPCO has received and paid for 2.2 million pounds of uranium oxide from Cameco since 2014

Japan is “swimming – some would say drowning – in uranium”, the senior editor of Platts Nuclear Publications said in early 2016. According to Forbes writer James Conca, Japan’s existing uranium inventory will suffice to fuel the country’s power reactors “for the next decade”.

Nick Carter from Ux Consulting said he believes TEPCO is the first Japanese utility to terminate a long-term contract, while many others have tried to renegotiate contracts to reduce volumes or prices or delay shipments. Gitzel acknowledged that “there is concern over the risk of contagion from the TEPCO announcement” ‒ more customers might try to cancel contracts if TEPCO succeeds.

Tax dispute

A long-running tax dispute is starting to heat up with the October 2016 commencement of a court case brought against Cameco by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The dispute has been slowly winding its way through appeals and legal motions since 2009 when Cameco first challenged the CRA’s findings. The court case is likely to conclude in the coming months but the court’s decision may not be finalised until late-2017 or 2018.

Cameco is accused of setting up a subsidiary in Switzerland and selling it uranium at a low price to avoid tax. Thus Cameco was paying the Swiss tax rate of about 10% compared to almost 30% in Canada. Cameco set up the subsidiary in 1999 and established a 17-year deal selling uranium at approximately US$10 (AU$13.50) a pound — far less than the average price over the 17-years period. Another subsidiary was established in Barbados — possibly to repatriate offshore profits.

If Cameco loses the case in the Tax Court of Canada, it could be liable for back taxes of US$1.6 billion (AU$2.2 billion). Last year, the company spent approximately US$89 million (AU$120 million) legal costs related to the tax dispute.

Canadians for Tax Fairness have been arguing the case for legislative change to stop profit-shifting schemes, and for Cameco to pay up. Last year, the NGO teamed up with Saskatchewan Citizens for Tax Fairness and the international corporate watchdog, SumOfUs, to deliver a petition with 35,000 signatures to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office and to Cameco’s executive offices.

Don Kossick from Canadians for Tax Fairness noted that the US$1.6 billion (AU$2.2 billion) could easily cover the budgetary deficit in Saskatchewan that has resulted in major cuts to health, education and human services……..https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/unviable-economics-of-nuclear-power-catches-up-with-cameco,10275

May 10, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Uranium | Leave a comment

AREVA abandons Nunavut uranium project, due to indigenous opposition and low market prices

Areva pulls out of Baker Lake, Nunavut uranium mine remains mothballed, NUNATSIAQ ONLINE, Nunavut May 05, 2017 JANE GEORGE Areva Resources Canada, the proponent of the Kiggavik uranium project, has decided to close shop in Baker Lake and put its office building up for sale.

“After over 10 years exploring in the territory, studying the possibility of developing the Kiggavik Project and making numerous friends in the Kivalliq region, it’s time to say good bye,” the company said in an advertisement in the Nunatsiaq News print newspaper of May 5…..

The decision to sell the building comes after Areva opted to place its uranium mining project on hold.

That followed a 2015 recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board that the project, 80 kilometres east of Baker Lake, should not proceed.

Then, in July 2016, the four federal ministers with authority over the project said they accepted the NIRB’s recommendation.

Kiggavik will remain in care and maintenance for an “indefinite period,” McCallum said May 4.

Meanwhile, its permits will be maintained and the property will be secured and visited once a year, he said.

The uranium mine to be located at two sites, Kiggavik and Sissons, would have comprised four open pits and an underground operation.

Areva said the project, with an estimated lifespan of about 12 years, would have been operating by some time in the 2020s or 2030s.

But opponents, such as the Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit group, said uranium mining posed a serious risk to the Kivalliq region’s caribou herds and that the environmental risks associated with the operation would outweigh its economic benefits.

While the mine would have cost $2 billion to build, McCallum said Areva had spent $80 million on developing the project, with $30 million going to northern contractors since 2006—numbers he recently shared in a meeting with the mayor of Baker Lake and the Kivalliq Inuit Association……The price of uranium currently stands at about $22 per pound—down nearly by half since 2013 and much lower than its high of more than $136 per pound in 2007. http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674areva_pulls_out_of_baker_lake_as_nunavut_uranium_mine_mothballed/#.WQzPWFlWLhM.twitter

May 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, indigenous issues, Uranium | Leave a comment

The Sahara’s little known nuclear wasteland

In the Sahara, a Little-Known Nuclear Wasteland, “There’s nothing nuclear in what I do. It’s just rocks we dilute into powder.”, Catapult, Hannah Rae Armstrong Apr 12, 2017  Activist Azara Jalawi lives with her mother, a nomad; her daughter Amina, who watches Mexican soap operas and dates a local human trafficker; her son Doudou, nicknamed “Slim Shady,” and a lean girl, probably a slave, in the town of Arlit, Niger, a mining hub of about forty thousand set deep within the Tuareg Sahara, a slow-baking proto-Chernobyl, a little-known nuclear wasteland.

Around Arlit, prehistoric volcanoes and petrified forests rise from the sand. Beneath it lie the skulls of giant crocodiles who preyed on dinosaurs a hundred million years ago. Within the rocky plateaus are havens like the oasis at Timia, where orange, grapefruit, and pomegranate groves ripen and flower in the desert. For forty years, the French nuclear-energy giant Areva has mined uranium here, and milled it into yellowcake, the solid concentrate that is the first step towards enriching uranium for nuclear fuel or weapons. Three miles outside the town, fifty million tons of radioactive tailings—a waste byproduct containing heavy metals and radon—sit in heaps that resemble unremarkable hills. In strong winds and sandstorms, radioactive particles scatter across the desert. “Radon daughters,” odorless radioactive dust, blanket the town. Public health and the environment exhibit strange symptoms of decay—mysterious illnesses are multiplying; grasses and animals are stunted. The people of Arlit are told that desertification and AIDS are to blame. ………..

Living atop an open-pit uranium mine has made the people ill, in ways they do not understand. Breathing radioactive dust, drinking contaminated well water, and sleeping between walls stitched from radioactive scrap metal and mud, the people tell stories to fill the gaps in their knowledge. ………

At her brother Doudou’s high school, funded by the mining company, students are told not to do drugs or set things on fire. Teachers tell Doudou nothing about the contaminated well water he consumes daily. At lunch on my first day in Arlit, I ask nervously about the source of the water in a chilled glass bottle on the table. “Don’t worry, it’s the well water,” they assure me. “We drink it all the time.” I learn later that well water readings reveal contamination one hundred times beyond the World Health Organization’s threshold for potable water.

………. a dim awareness of the contamination risks was just beginning. Almoustapha Alhacen, a yellowcake miller and environmental activist, recognizes himself on the cover of a 2012 book I’ve brought with me: “Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade.” He is the man wearing a gas mask and gloves. “The problem with Areva is it never informed people that radioactivity exists and that it is dangerous,” he says. An NGO called the Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity (CRIIRAD), created by a French EU deputy after the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, equipped him with a device and trained him to take readings. Once, he recalls, he saw a pregnant woman eating mud next to the road that leads from the mine to the town. This road is often tamped down with clay from the mines, and the tires that cross it regularly give it a fresh, invisible wash of radon. Almoustapha took a reading there and found radioactivity twenty-four times higher than the safe level. At markets selling scrap metal used for building houses, and at the community taps where people draw water, he took readings that were off the charts.

“Arlit was built around uranium. And humanity needs uranium,” Almoustapha says, speaking quickly and with rage. “But what happens next for us, when the uranium runs out, Areva leaves, and we are left with 50 million tons of radioactive waste?” As an activist, he ponders the future and the environment with seriousness. But these become abstract concerns before the fact of his job, which he needs right now. In a white turban and sunglasses, with sequined leather jewelry adorning his chest, he protests: “There’s nothing nuclear in what I do. It’s just rocks we dilute into powder, powder we dilute into liquid. It’s just mechanics, like for any car.” …….

If any state benefits from the distraction counter-terrorism provides from these underlying issues, it is France. Insecurity shields the mines from environmental scrutiny. Threats justify deepening militarization, an ongoing erosion of Nigerien sovereignty and independence. And the French mines still face no real obstacle to radiating the radiant desert. In fact, they’re expanding. A new mine—Africa’s largest—is being built near Arlit, at a site called Imouraren. There, a “security belt” encircles 100,000 acres, marking the land off limits to nomads.
https://catapult.co/stories/in-the-sahara-a-little-known-nuclear-wasteland#

April 14, 2017 Posted by | environment, Niger, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Navajo Nation still affected by legacy of uranium mining – contaminated water

Uranium leaves legacy of contamination for Navajo Nation http://www.heraldextra.com/news/state-and-regional/uranium-leaves-legacy-of-contamination-for-navajo-nation/article_8c4df54f-426c-5647-8779-15049d913308.html Apr 2, 2017  SHIPROCK, N.M. (AP) — For more than a decade, about 20 gallons of uranium-contaminated groundwater have been pumped per minute into a disposal pond from beneath a tailings site on the eastern edge of the Navajo Nation.

The U.S. Energy Department says the pond is a few years away from the end of its life span, and pumping will have to stop since the pond has almost reached its capacity.

The federal government monitors and pumps groundwater from beneath the Shiprock uranium mill tailings site in northwestern New Mexico as part of a long-term project aimed at cleaning up the area.

 Mark Kautsky with the DOE’s Office of Legacy Management recently toured the site near the Arizona-New Mexico state line with a group of students from Arizona.

“The water level has come up the point where that pond is just about full,” he told the students from Shonto Preparatory School.

Over the next couple of years, the pond will be evaporated and its liner will be replaced, the Gallup Independent reported (http://bit.ly/1jl8YBA).

Kautsky said the community of Shiprock should not be affected since its drinking water is piped from miles away and farmers in the area get their irrigation water diverted from the San Juan River about 10 miles (16 kilometers) upstream.

The mill tailings disposal site is located behind a locked fence on a ridge behind the Shiprock Fairgrounds and past the Navajo Engineering Construction Authority.

Families live in mobile homes within several hundred yards (meters) of the site, and yellow signs attached to the fencing display warnings in Navajo not to drink the pond’s water.

The disposal site sits on top of a former mill that processed more than 200 tons of uranium ore a day from mines in Cove, Arizona, and other nearby locations.

 The mill operated from 1954 through 1968. The buildings and equipment were torn down in the years immediately after the operation ceased and initial cleanup of the site took place from 1975 throughout 1980.

The massive rock covering of the uranium tailings was built in 1986 to prevent the escape of radon gas.

Kautsky said it was safer to leave the tailings in place than to move them.

“If you start picking up all of this material and hauling it out of here through the community there would be a lot of potential for accidents to happen,” he told the students.

 The Energy Department began long-term oversight of the disposal site in 1991. Federal officials have said there are over 500 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation in the country. Navajo territory spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The Energy Department has four legacy management locations on the Navajo Nation: the Shiprock site; disposal sites in Mexican Hat, Utah, and Tuba City, Arizona; and a former processing site in Monument Valley, Arizona.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with responsible parties and implementing settlements that provide funding to assess and clean up about 40 percent of abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land. Linda Reeves, a regional project manager with the agency, said the EPA is in the early stages of its work.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | indigenous issues, Uranium, USA, water | Leave a comment

Hazards of uranium mining have been known for centuries

Native American uranium miners and the Trump budget, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  Robert Alvarez, 30 Mar 17, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  “…….The hazards of uranium mining have been known for centuries. As early as 1556, dust in the Ore Mountain (Erzgebirge) mines bordering Germany and what is now the Czech Republic was reported to have “corrosive qualities… it eats away the lungs and implants consumption in the body…” By 1879, researchers found that 75 percent of the miners in the Ore Mountains had died from lung cancer. By 1932, the Ore Mountain miners were receiving compensation for their cancers from the German government. Uranium mining was convincingly linked to lung cancer by dozens of epidemiological and animal studies by the late 1930s.

In 1942, Wilhelm C. Hueper, the founding director of the environmental cancer section of the National Cancer Institute, brought the European studies to light in the United States—concluding that radon gas was responsible for half of the deaths of European miners after 10 to 20 years of exposure. By this time, uranium had become a key element for the making of the first atomic weapons. Hueper’s superiors blocked him from further publication and discussion in this area; they told him that dissemination of such information was “not in the public interest.”

In fact, withholding information about workplace hazards was deeply embedded in the bureaucratic culture of the early nuclear weapons program. In 1994, the Energy Department made a previously secret document, written in the late 1940s, public. It crystallized the long-held rationale for keeping nuclear workers in the dark: “We can see the possibility of a shattering effect on the morale of the employees if they become aware that there was substantial reason to question the standards of safety under which they are working. In the hands of labor unions, the results of this study would add substance to demands for extra-hazardous pay.”

Kee Begay worked in the mines for 29 years and was dying of lung cancer when I first met him. “The mines were poor and not fit for human beings,” he told me. Begay also lost a son to cancer. “He was one of many children that used to play on the uranium piles during those years. We had a lot of uranium piles near our homes—just about 50 or 100 feet away or so. Can you imagine? Kids go out and play on those piles.”

In 1957, the US Public Health Service reported that the average radiation lung dose to Indian miners was 21 times higher than was allowed in the Atomic Energy Commission’s nuclear weapons plants. In 1962, the Public Health Service revealed that radon exposure in the mines was statistically linked to lung cancer among US miners—at a rate comparable to what Heuper had warned about 20 years earlier.

Lung disease associated with radon exposure was “totally avoidable,” former chief health scientist for the AEC Merrill Eisenbud said in 1979. “The Atomic Energy Commission … is uniquely responsible for the death of many men who developed lung cancer as a result of the failure of the mine operators, who must also bear the blame, because they too had the information, and the Government should not have had to club them into ventilating their mines………..”http://thebulletin.org/native-american-uranium-miners-and-trump-budget10657?platform=hootsuite

March 31, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium companies having ‘worst time ever’

fearuranium-oreNot just Toshiba – the global nuclear industry is in crisis everywhere, Ecologist, Jim Green 3rd February 2017   “………..”It has never been a worse time for uranium miners”said Alexander Molyneux from Paladin Energy in October 2016.

“No major commodity had a worse 2016 than uranium”, Bloomberg said in January 2017. “In fact, the element used to make nuclear fuel has had a pretty dismal decade.”

Uranium mining ramped up 5-10 years ago in anticipation of the nuclear renaissance that never materialised. Hence a glut, hence the low price. The price has fallen for seven of the past nine years. The spot price fell 41% in 2016, sinking to a 12-year low (US$18 / lb U3O8 in November).

The spot price averaged about $26 last year, and is expected to average just $23 in 2017 according to the median forecast of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg in December 2016. “I don’t think there’s a mine profitable at current spot prices”, Leigh Curyer from Canadian uranium miner NexGen Energy told Bloomberg.

The long-term contract price fell from $44 in January 2016 to $30 in December. It would need to double to encourage the development of new mines. KPMG noted in December that “uranium producers are expected to reduce production and cut costs through 2017 and 2018, with high cost mines likely to scale back or close. New projects are expected to remain on hold.” RBC expects the sector will be oversupplied until around 2024.

The uranium enrichment industry is in much the same place as uranium mining. The spot uranium enrichment price has fallen consistently since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, and it fell by a third between early 2015 and late 2016 to reach an all-time low.

And since cheap, abundant enrichment capacity can substitute for newly mined uranium (either by extracting more uranium-235 during uranium enrichment, or re-enriching tails), this has and will continue to keep uranium prices downhttp://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988607/not_just_toshiba_the_global_nuclear_industry_is_in_crisis_everywhere.html

February 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium market outlook: not all that good

text-uranium-hypeProfit Margins Once again, without positive earnings, it’s tough to calculate a meaningful profit margin for Uranium Resources. We have to ding it here again.

Return on Equity The nuclear power stock falls short in terms of return on equity. Its early-stage investors have lost 54.65% in the last year. The equity situation isn’t great for other energy stocks, but it’s not this bad.

Is Uranium Resources a Nuclear Power Play?, I nvestment U  by Samuel Taube, Investment U Research Team Wednesday, January 25, 2017 Nuclear power has seen better days. In recent decades, pressure from environmentalist groups, the high cost compared to fossil fuels and the perceived risk to public safety has beaten the industry down.

Then along came President Trump, reverser of trends. Our new president is big on nuclear development – both the military and energy varieties. . And that means that beaten-down nuclear stocks like Uranium Resources (Nasdaq: URRE) could heat up again soon.

As you can see, Uranium Resources stock has been declining for much of the year. Other nuclear power stocks showed similarly drab performances before the election.

Now President Trump has spurred a revival in this industry. And Investment U readers are wondering whether or not it’s too late for a recovery. After such a long bear market, is Uranium Resources a good buy?

To find out, we ran Uranium Resources stock through the Investment U Fundamental Factor Test. (As a reminder, our checklist looks at six key metrics to diagnose the financial health of a stock.)

Earnings-per-Share  (EPS) Growth: Uranium Resources has a great earnings-per-share growth rate of 77.38%. That’s well above the average of 13.21% in the energy space. However, we should note that the nuclear power stock can post such impressive earnings growth because its earnings are still below zero.

Price-to-Earnings  (P/E): And since Uranium Resources has negative earnings, we can’t calculate its P/E ratio. We’re giving it the red X in this metric by default.

Debt-to-Equity The stock outperforms most other energy companies in terms of debt-to-equity ratio. Uranium Resources has a frugal 17.72% debt burden. That’s much less than the industry average of 41.87%.

Free Cash Flow per Share Growth Uranium Resources really blows other energy companies out of the water in terms of cash flow. It has grown free cash flow per share by 96.27% in the last year. Its competitors saw it shrink by -28.82% in that time.

Profit Margins Once again, without positive earnings, it’s tough to calculate a meaningful profit margin for Uranium Resources. We have to ding it here again.

Return on Equity The nuclear power stock falls short in terms of return on equity. Its early-stage investors have lost 54.65% in the last year. The equity situation isn’t great for other energy stocks, but it’s not this bad. ……http://www.investmentu.com/article/detail/53391/stockgrader-uranium-resources-nuclear-power#.WIpYkNJ97Gh

January 27, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

Environmental Protection Agency caters to uranium industry, not to protection of groundwater

text-EPA-Nuclear-ProtectionUS delays cleanup rule at uranium mines amid GOP criticism
Federal GOP legislators from Wyoming have said a rule was an unnecessary burden for the uranium industry
NBC5 Jan 5, 2017 CHEYENNE, Wyo. —

Federal officials withdrew a requirement for companies to clean up groundwater at uranium mines across the U.S. and will reconsider a rule that congressional Republicans criticized as too harsh on industry.

The plan that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put on hold Wednesday involves in-situ mining, in which water containing chemicals is used to dissolve uranium out of underground sandstone deposits. Water laden with uranium, a toxic element used for nuclear power and weapons, is then pumped to the surface. No digging or tunneling takes place.

The metal occurs in the rock naturally but the process contaminates groundwater with uranium in concentrations much higher than natural levels. Mining companies take several measures to prevent tainted water from seeping out of the immediate mining area…….

Along with setting new cleanup standards, the rule would have required companies to monitor their former in-situ mines potentially for decades. The requirement was set for implementation but now will be opened up for a six-month public comment period.

EPA officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Environmentalists and others say uranium-mining companies have yet to show they can fully clean up groundwater at a former in-situ mine. Clean groundwater should not be taken for granted, they say, especially in the arid and increasingly populated U.S. West.

In-Situ-Leaching

“We are, of course, disappointed that this final rule didn’t make it to a final stage,” said Shannon Anderson with the Powder River Basin Resource Council. “It was designed to address a very real and pressing problem regarding water protection at uranium mines.”

The EPA rule is scheduled for further consideration in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

In-situ uranium mining surged on record prices that preceded the 2011 Japanese tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster. Prices lately have sunk to decade lows, prompting layoffs. http://www.mynbc5.com/article/woman-who-lost-her-leg-receives-very-generous-gift/8570346

January 7, 2017 Posted by | politics, Uranium, USA, water | Leave a comment