Uranium mines in Quebec: First Nations, municipalities and citizens unite their voices for a moratorium

Date of publication: 
11 March 2013

QUEBEC CITY- Two years to the day following the Fukushima disaster in Japan, First Nations, municipalities and Citizen groups unite their voices, asking the Quebec government to announce a moratorium on uranium mines. They also ask the Government to quickly act on its promise to hold a generic environmental evaluation on uranium in Quebec.

Uranium is a radioactive metal used in the production of nuclear energy and bombs. Its extraction and use pose significant health and environmental risks. Moratoria are already in place in British-Colombia, Nova Scotia and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. “Quebec must follow these examples. Their decisions were based on strong analysis and despite pressure from industry, they wisely decided to shut the door on uranium mining for health, security and environmental reasons,” confirms Ugo Lapointe from Québec meilleure mine.

Many communities are claiming their opposition to uranium mining in Quebec. The Cree Nation of Mistissini (James-Bay / Eeyou Istchee), in Northern Quebec, is one of them. “As protectors of the largest fresh water lake in Quebec, Lake Mistassini, we strongly oppose any uranium development. It goes against our way of life and our beliefs. As opposed to other form of tailings, such as that from the Stornoway mine also on our territory, waste from this type of mine stays radioactive for thousands of years, and that is socially unacceptable. We are all here today to say out loud that uranium should not be mined in Quebec” said the Mistissini Council Chief Richard Shecapio.

Today’s announcement follows the initiative of the Mayor of Amqui, Gaëtan Ruest, whose municipal council passed a strong resolution against uranium and who forwarded the resolution to the municipalities of Quebec asking them to adopt similar resolutions. So far, over 300 Quebec municipalities have done so and there is an objective to reach 500 municipalities in the next few months. Details can be found here: http://www.quebecsansuranium.org/

Chief Ghislain Picard from the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) also applauded the group initiative. “We would like to thank Mayor Ruest for his important initiative and we call upon more First Nations and Quebec municipalities to do the same and send a strong message to the Government of Quebec.”

The Government of Quebec pledged to hold an independent inquiry on uranium mining in Quebec. A recent Léger marketing survey showed that 62% of Quebecers are in favor of a moratorium on uranium mining. This number rises to 78% in favor of a broad, independent impact assessment on uranium mining before any projects is approved. “The Government has everything they need to announce a moratorium and follow-up on their promise to hold an independent inquiry on uranium mining in Quebec,” concluded Philippe Bourke, Director of the Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l’environnement.

Organizations supporting today’s press conference include: The Cree Nation of Mistissini, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the City of Amqui, the Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l’environnement, the Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine, the Mouvement Sortons le Québec du nucléaire, the Canadian coalition for nuclear responsibility, the Canadian association of physicians for the environment, Physicians for global survival, Sept-Îles sans uranium, Minganie sans uranium, Baie-James/Eeyou Istchee Sans uranium, Mouvement vert Mauricie, l’Association de protection des Hautes-Laurentides, Nature Québec, the Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace.

SOURCE: Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleur mine
For further information:

Bella Loon – Communications Officer
Cree Nation of Mistissini
communication [at] mistissini [dot] ca

Mylène Bergeron and Anne-Sophie Desprez
Communications coordinators
Nature Québec 418-648-2104, p.2074
mylene.bergeron [at] naturequebec [dot] org
anne-sophie.deprez [at] naturequebec [dot] ca