Uranium mining

Anti-nuclear activists open “uranium mine” in front of Belgian Christian Democratic Party headquarters

Uraniumontginning


Uraniumontginning voor de Belgische kerncentrales, Impact op mens en milieu

(Download: 7MB, .pdf)

Report shows environmental and human rights consequences of uranium mining for Belgian nuclear power stations.

Photos of the action (free of copyright): http://fme.sincerethought.org/gallery/v/2007/umining2

Friday 6th July, Brussels – Activists from Friends of the Earth today constructed a “uranium mine” in front of the head offices of the Christian Democratic party (CD&V) on the Wetstraat in Brussels. The action coincided with the release a significant research report showing the tragic environmental and human rights impacts of the uranium mining that supplies the nuclear fuels for the Belgian nuclear power plants of Doel and Tihange.[1]

The problems associated with uranium mining include massive levels of radioactive contamination, an increase in cancers and other health problems amongst mine workers and residents of the surrounding areas, and a widespread culture of misinformation and secrecy within the industry. The report shows that it is often indigenous people who have felt the greatest impacts of uranium mining.

The report traces the origin of the uranium used in Belgian nuclear power plants [2], and produces the first-ever comprehensive overview of these largely hidden, but very direct, consequences of the Belgian dependence upon nuclear power. The report adds extra pressure to maintain, and even speed up, the phase out of nuclear power in Belgium, in the context of the ongoing negotiations to form a new federal government.

Koen Cornelis of Friends of the Earth stated: “When someone in Belgium turns on a light or a television, the majority of the electricity comes from nuclear power. The uranium mining to provide the fuel for Doel and Tihange have created widespread human rights and environmental problems around the world. Our research shows that nuclear power is anything but clean energy. If you read the eyewitness accounts contained in our report, you cannot fail to be convinced that we have to end the use of nuclear power immediately.”

The release of the report was marked with a nonviolent direct action, in which activists constructed a “uranium mine” at the head office of the CD&V in Brussels. The activists, dressed in mining clothing, created a number of holes in the pavement in front of the building, and held banners reading “Uranium voor België Creeert Duurzame Vervuiling”, “leave uranium in the ground” and “kernenergie gaat over lijken”. A sound system played the noise of drilling in a “noise bombardment” of the offices.

Koen Cornelis, of Friends of the Earth, stated: “The planned increase in nuclear power worldwide is leading to an increase in the price of uranium, which is in turn fuelling a boom in uranium mining. In many cases, mining companies are returning to areas that were mined decades ago, and have still not been cleaned up. If the CD&V find this action inconvenient, they should try to imagine what it is like to live next to a real uranium mine.”

Press Contact: Koen Cornelis
Email: koenc@moederaarde.be
GSM: 0472 342 463

[1] The report “Uraniumontginning voor de Belgische kerncentrales: Impact op Mens en Milieu”, an executive summary of the report, as well as high resolution photographs of the impacts of uranium mining, will be available online from Friday 6th July at: http://www.motherearth.org/uranium

[2] The countries supplying uranium to Belgium include:
Australië, Canada, China, Kazakhstan, Rusland, Zuid-Afrika en de VS.
This list comes from the answer to a parliamentary question, which is published at: http://www.motherearth.org/uranium/pq.pdf


Friends of the Earth Flanders & Brussels (formerly For Mother Earth) is a member of Friends of the Earth International