Jeff Green | Sep 20, 2007
Feature Article - September 20, 2007 Feature Article - September 20, 2007
Mr. Kittle Goes to Ottawaby Jeff Green
John Kittle is a soft-spoken Snow Road resident who has taken on a spokesperson’s role within the group, Concerned Citizens Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU).
This week he took his message to the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa, bringing along Dr. Syd Brownstein, a retired member of the National Research Council.
Kittle began his remarks with a warning to the City of Ottawa, saying it “could be exposed to radioactive pollution if uranium mines are allowed to be developed in cottage country west of Ottawa.”
He then repeated CCAMU’s call for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to declare a moratorium against uranium mining in eastern Ontario. “This must be done now to prevent further damage to our environment,” he said.
Syd Brownstein said uranium itself is “only mildly radioactive,” when it is encased in granite as it is throughout the Canadian Shield, but when it is disturbed it can break down into “decay products that are highly radioactive.”
One of those decay products is radium, which Brownstein said is in the same chemical family as calcium. This chemical affinity means that minute amounts of radium concentrate in the bones and teeth of animals and humans when they are exposed to it.
Another of those products is polonium - 210, a deadly poison that is in the same chemical family as sulphur and concentrates in internal organs. Polonium 210 was used in the murder of Alexander Litvitenko in London, England, last year.
“What I have been talking about thus far are facts,” Brownstein said, and then he presented his opinion about the risks involved in mining uranium.
“Unless there is a great need for uranium, any risk is not worth it,” he said, “If it is only being done for the profit of a few people, then it should not even be considered.”
Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, held a press conference immediately after John Kittle, and she began by reading a statement written by Dr. Gordon Edwards, the President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
Edwards referred to radium and polonium-210 as well, and he also mentioned the issue of radon and uranium mining. “During uranium exploration and mining, huge quantities of radon gas are also released into the air, and dissolved in surface waters. The US Surgeon General has determined that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking.” Edwards wrote.
He concluded by saying he “salutes the Algonquin peoples for trying to do what the government should have been doing all along – protecting the health and safety of the people of the Ottawa region …”
At the opening of her own remarks, Elizabeth May said that the Green Party “stands in solidarity with CCAMU in urging Dalton McGuinty to declare a moratorium on uranium mining.” She also said the Green Party supports the Shabot Obaadjiwaan and Ardoch Algonquin First Nations in their occupation of the mining exploration properties in North Frontenac.
“Energy efficiency and improved supply side management can solve Ontario’s energy needs,” she said in arguing for an end to the province’s commitment to nuclear power.
Currently, nuclear power comprises 54% of Ontario’s electricity supply, and the government has announced its intention to build new nuclear plants in the future.
The renewed interest in nuclear power world wide is the main factor in the price of uranium rising from a low of $6 a pound a few years ago to a high of $140 US earlier this summer, sparking a flurry of uranium staking. It has since dropped to $85 US. There are no active uranium mines in Ontario.
According to Elizabeth May, the Ontario government asked the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to bring forward a plan for a secure energy future for the province, and the OPA came back with a flawed plan.
“They did not talk about some obvious things, such as sub-metering in urban apartments, which could cut the need for electricity substantially.”
On the supply side, May said the OPA “did not consider the potential for offshore wind power generation in their calculations, for example.”
After the press conference, CCAMU members gathered outside the Peace Tower and unleashed a scroll containing a petition signed by 2500 people, which cascaded down the steps in front of the tower. The petition demands a moratorium on uranium mining. They then left Parliament Hill to bring the petition to Dalton McGuinty’s constituency office in Ottawa South.