Uranium mining and fearmongering

I know nothing about uranium mining and don’t claim to but the following chain email that is being sent around is an excellent example of how people can completely distort things without one ounce of fact. Now, I know you will complain about my position but read the chain email petition and then my comments below:

Excellent example.

Uranium Mines

Subject: Uranium Mines, Read VERY IMPORTANT, matter of life or death
Did you know that they are planning to open a Uranium Mine in Saint-Antoine ? Wewould be one of five sites. No ,well neither did I until my sister told methat she saw the plans at a meeting held in Moncton. Uranium is aradioactive product. What does that mean? It causes cancer(especiallyleukemia) , birth defects and all around hazard to your health. Uranium dustcan travel up to 100 miles from the mines. What does that mean for us? Wewill no longer be able to plant gardens,no more live stock,no more appleorchards,no more fishing and what about our water supply. Everything will beinfected with Uranium dust. If the contract is signed, they have the rightto drill a half mile hole in your yard and just leave it open. That meansthat the Uranium fumes can escape from that hole and really get you good. Weneed to join together to protect our families , our kids and grand-kidsfuture. If this contract is signed our community will become a ghost town.Our property value will drop to nothing.The mines are not even being done toprofit Canada ,it is to be ship out of the country. So we get to get sickand die for a foreign country. How nice is that? I ask that you pass thisvery important e-mail to everyone you know . Write to your MLA ,speak toyour mayor. Please sign this petition and pass it along. Thanks

This is just plain fearmongering. There are no statistics cited. No credible sources. No proof of anything – just playing on a general/generic fear of radiation. “Ghost town”? Maybe but wouldn’t a law firm (the originator this email) want to cite example “Ghost towns”? “Not even to profit Canada” – Wouldn’t they want to cite their source for this?

I might be sympathetic to those who would be against such a mine but this type of email petition makes me want to support it.

Here’s my email petition:

Did you know there are people in Saint-Antoine that are actively and aggressively sabatoging the economic future of the community? Did you know that the reason why hundreds of people have moved out and are never coming back are directly related to these people? Who are they? Lawyers based right in Saint-Antoine! They are evil, conniving and are singularly focused on destroying our town. Please write your MLA and demand these people be removed. Or Saint-Antoine will become a Ghost-Town!

Not very nice, huh? Well, without any credible facts or any data to back up anything that is said the petition above, that is about how it reads to me.

If someone wants to provide me with hard data and facts, then we can have a conversation. Other than that, I think they are preying on the fears of good people in the community and that is wrong.

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0 Responses to Uranium mining and fearmongering

  1. mikel says:

    Your way off the mark here, not everybody prepares a syllabus every time they protest or write a letter. I’d put your complaint in the same department as Spinks complaint that a french woman and the acadian society ‘dared’ present a legal challenge against the RCMP because they weren’t available in french (which is law).

    It takes about five seconds to type in ‘uranium mining’, or you can go to ‘miningwatch.org’ which is a good resource. But methinks that like many you are just looking for a reason to gripe against those who would dare oppose a hazardous type of economic development. I mean, if I said we shouldn’t race wild pigs down the trans canada would you say that because I don’t quote statistics or facts on wild pig racing that that makes you want to support wild pig racing down the trans canada?

    But whether you support it or not is irrelevant, this group is going up against the government and all that matters is the government officials, the big businesses, and how much work these people put into protest.

    It’s one thing to want development, but again, anybody that thinks just because things are bad that they can’t get worse is dreaming. You already suck in heavily polluted air, and most everything you eat is killing you (unless you live on an organic farm, and that depends on where). Uranium is simply icing on the cake, its FAR FAR worse than having another oil refinery, and that’s bad enough.

    But hey, if it creates a few jobs, who cares how many kids its killing eh! (and it takes about ten minutes to find THAT ‘fact’-although its hard to find statistics because canada doesn’t test for those-even in port hope the community had to pay for their own health tests, check out the ontario waterkeeper blog for that one).

  2. David Campbell says:

    Sometimes I don’t know how your mind works. My only point is that if you want to get support for a petition, you should provide a logical argument and not just play to stereotypes. If it is so easy to find out what is wrong with uranium mining, why didn’t the writer of the petition make the case more logically? To equate uranium mining with racing wild pigs is silly. I never said I support uranium mining – I don’t know enough about it but I certainly distrust anybody that would say that stuff.

    Based on your assertion that I am griping “against those who would dare oppose a hazardous type of economic development”, you completely missed my point. But you don’t read my posts -mostly – do you? You read a line or two and then unload the shotgun. I never said I support this type of mining and in fact I just wrote a long blog on the importance of environmental considerations in industrial development.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve seen this kind of propaganda before, most recently last year from the CCNB. They send these kind of emails with similar vitriolic scaremongering in order to stir up fanatical support for their position. Unlike our learned friend Mikel I dont know a lot about uranium mining and I wouldnt expect it to be very good for ones health, to say the least but I do think it is reasonable in a civilized society to expect any public discourse to be based on intelligent argument backed up by knowledgeable experts instead of the radical meanderings of fanatics that is simply calculated to frighten the life out of peaceful, law abiding citizens.

  4. D Stewart says:

    The long and the short of it is that it is simply far easier to scare a certain percentage of the public with that kind of apocalyptic scenario than it is to actually deal with the details. After all the details might not be nearly as “convincing” to the cause. Which is of course why it appears to be so appealing to mikel…he works on much the same level. That he never even bothers to question the facts of the letter in question..For instance…that is there even a mine to be developed in Saint-Antoine…where did the letter come from and where did they get there information..is proof of just what type of person responses to this kind of nonsense. He just jumps right on to the bandwagon with both feet and guns a blazing. For the original letter writer that is just what their looking for…its mission accomplished.

  5. mikel says:

    That was NOT your ‘only point’. If it was you would have printed the email and then said ‘they should provide a logical argument and not just play to stereotypes’.

    You didn’t say that, your blog speaks for itself and says TONS more than that, from its condescending tone, to its criticism and satire. That doesn’t come from a line or two, that permeates the entire posting (even moreso at the end).

    It also defeats your point, THEIR original email is far more logical and civilized than the blog posting. There is a logical point to rebut (not rebut, but at least ask for clarification), asking where this group/person got their information, what are their sources,etc. That is logical and civilized, but you didn’t ask any of those questions, you berated them for not providing them in the first place.

    As for ‘facts’, they have tons of them, although they don’t footnote them. Was there a meeting in Moncton? Is their area one of five sites? They state that it is, but its hardly surprising that they don’t footnote each point.

    The difference is that YOU and the poster above are the ones who want a debate-they do not. They obviously live near a uranium mine and what they want is political activity, to sign a petition. If YOU want a civilized debate, then contact the person and say so, or write a blog inquiring about the issue, not abusing the people who are concerned about their health in the first place.

    It is a hugely important issue, and its almost as frightening that so few people seem to know about it. If you want civilized discourse, don’t start with a blog like that-start with a civilized discourse-as you usually do.

    To use a different example, if an axe murderer is in your house and somebody warns you, they aren’t ‘fearmongering’, and if you discount them because they didn’t provide the statistics and logical argument about the likelihood of an axe murderer being in your house, well, its your neck on the line.

  6. mikel says:

    In fact, the ‘details’ are FAR more convincing than that email. For fearmongering that is positively benign.

    The details about uranium mining is so conclusive and established that it’s virtually irrefutable. For David, its quite surprising since Moncton has been in the national news with its relation to uranium testing by Inco, in fact Moncton City Council has even passed a resolution for the province to ban uranium mining and exploration.

    Nova Scotia has banned it-since 1982! So this is not a bunch of environmentalists crying foul, hell, go to canadaeast and there even have editorials against it, and the Irvings are about as far from environmentalists as you can get (of course if they ran mines it might be a different story).

    Even the Irving papers have been filled with people, not environmentalists, not grassroots activists, just regular people arguing against this-one that comes to mind was a doctor in St. John who has a cottage in Cambridge narrows, one of the prime uranium spots who was complaining about, well, all the things mentioned in that letter.

    It’s clear that that email isn’t from an organization, but you can go to http://www.scarenb.ca and you will see all the footnotes that you want.

    Even Here magazine had a feature on this, including the interesting tidbit that I never heard before which is that Shawn Grahams’ FATHER is on the Atomic Energy Control Board-gee, that certainly makes it less of a surprise why they are looking forward to lepreau 2. I don’t remember seeing that tossed about the media too often though.

    But again, this person obviously read the information at scarenb and wanted to pass it around. It’s hardly fear mongering since for most people its already a given that uranium mining is a BAD idea (the ‘radioactive’ part is a good giveaway).

  7. Anonymous says:

    Society has graduated far beyond the days of preying on the ill-informed to generate fear in advocacy of an issue.

    This is a sad commentary on NB. Are we time locked in the snake-oil days of old?

  8. Dan F says:

    You’ve realy got to love your ‘free market‘ capitalism if you’re willing to play stupid about the dangers of Uranium (1, 2, 3).

    If we forget the travesties of yesteryear in the search for corporate profits (and to prop up insane ammounts of derivatives), we’re doomed to repeat the tragic consequences.

    The downsides of call centers are nothing compared to the toxic destruction your current PPPs are likely to create.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To Mikel…

    You need professional help.

  10. mikel says:

    The above is right, sort of. Organizations have graduated past the days of preying on the ill informed, I’d suggest everybody has except government-just look at the made up statistics that have people thinking EFI is an abject failure (even some well educated bloggers have fallen for that line).

    But for environmental organizations the case is far different. Media is so centralized that when emails come out like this people act positively irately if it has anything to do with money. In this case its a bit more surprising because at the Irving papers I found no less than a dozen articles and letters to the editor about uranium mining.

    What is a sad commentary on New Brunswick is the vehemence that is generated whenever somebody attempts to DO something about an issue, rather than just write or talk about it-even when its in their own self interest.

    Fortunately, this issue is gaining steam, they already passed their benchmark of 1000 signatures at their petition, but hopefully they’ll realize that its going to take a lot more than that. It’s a very sad commentary that those who are doing YOU a favour get treated so badly. If they are successful you can thank them-each day you still have usable water and don’t find yourself with cancer.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Uranium is all around us and it is naturally occurring in all soil and ground water (yes that means wells too). It is very prevalent. The challenge is to find it in rich enough concentrations to extract.

    Dust control from a mine either an underground or abovegound, is not a technologically significant challenge.

    This is fear mongering. There is no other work for it.

  12. mikel says:

    Radio-activity is all around us, its the LEVELS that are the issue. Uranium has many forms, and not too many are sitting on the surface where they can harm us, thats why they need to be MINED.

    The dust is a different issue. Corporations want to save money so only adopt the safety precautions that are required by government, and Canada’s government, and in particular New Brunswick’s, is extremely lax.

    The mining industry in particular has a HORRIBLE track record, and Inco, with the most claims in NB, has probably the worst of any of them. So ‘technology’ MAY address some safety concerns, but whether they will or not is pretty specious, which of course is why this group is protesting.

    IF the mining industry had a different record, if the government had a different record, if the environment and health were always the top priority then no doubt people would look at these things a little differently. However, health and the environment typically rate last in these matters, so its not surprising that this group simply doesn’t want to see it done, like I said, several provinces and more and more municipalities have agreed with them.

  13. richard says:

    “IF the mining industry had a different record”

    Yes, that is the problem. The mining industry has a terrible record and there really is no reason to accept what they say at face value.

    In a radio interview a couple of days ago, an unemployed resident of Napadogan said that she recognized the environmental problems associated with mines, felt that the local environment would likely be badly damaged, but wanted the proposed tungsten mine to go ahead anyway because she needed a job. NB is ripe for the picking I guess.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Time to stop using one misguided petition attempt as a platform to throw “fearmongering” around again. This person was incorrect in some of the statements in the petition and apologized for any misunderstanding. There were many attempts to recall the message, but of course who can stop the e-mail spread. Uranium mining unleashes over 12 radioactive and toxic products – that’s a fact that the mining companies can’t dispute. And short term economic gains will never outweigh the cost to our health care system and to our environment. I refuse to let my children and grandchildren live with stupid mistakes made now.