Greenland: medical concerns of uranium mining

22.06.2016 - Gordon Edwards

This post is also available in: Spanish

Greenland: medical concerns of uranium mining
Anti uranium mining protests Greenland (Image by Arctic Journal)
I have recently returned from a trip to Greenland where I participated in a one-day forum on Uranium Mining in Narsaq, South Greenland, on June 11, 2016.  There were many members of parliament and elected members of town councils in attendance.  There was also a good turnout from the local population.  
Dr. Bill Williams (M.D.) of Australia also presented, along with Hilu, an articulate young Inuit woman from Baker Lake, Nunavut, and Jack Hicks, who has decades of professional experience in Nunavut and has been involved in the uranium issues there.
Here is a link to my talk and powerpoint prepared for that event.  All material had to be translated into Greenlandic.
Some months ago, Sara Olsvig, the leader of the Inuit Ataqatigiit Political Party in Greenland, asked Physicians for Global Survival to send a speaker to delineate the medical concerns connected with uranium mining.  I was chosen by the PGS Board to represent them at the Greenland conference,
The pretty little town of Narsaq, South Greenland (population about 1500) is only 7 km from the proposed mine, called Kvanefjeld in Danish and Kuannersuit in Greenlandic.  The ore body in question is very complex geologically, containing uranium, zinc, and “rare earths” [apparently so named not because they are scarce, but because they are very difficult to separate from each other.]  There is an estimated one billion tonnes of ore, and — when processed — it will leave behind almost one billion tonnes of low-level radioactive residues in the form of sandy tailings and other forms of waste.
It is considered to be the second largest deposit of rare earth oxides in the world, outside of China.  China has dominated the market for rare earths until recent years, when they have announced progressive cutbacks on exports, citing environmental concerns as one of their main reasons for the cutbacks.  This has heightened exploration activities in other parts of the world for other sources for rare earths.
Here is a link to a few of the slides I used for a talk on Rare Earth mining in Temiscamingue, Quebec, in 2014:
Categories: Ecology and Environment, Europe, North America
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