The Hazards of Uranium Exploration

Terral, Jim
Publisher:  Rainweed Books, Slocan Park, Canada
Year Published:  1979  
Pages:  15  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX999

This booklet is sponsored by the Kootenay Nuclear Study Group. Its backdrop is the protest barricade by Genelle residents of the drilling and blasting operations of Noman Mines in the China Creek watershed that supplies that community's water.

Abstract:  This booklet is sponsored by the Kootenay Nuclear Study Group. Its backdrop is the protest barricade by Genelle residents of the drilling and blasting operations of Noman Mines in the China Creek watershed that supplies that community's water.

The text provides an overview of radioactivity, touching especially on the concepts of binding energy, isotopes and ions. It explains three types of ionizing radiation: alpha particles (dangerous if breathed or taken in by food), beta particles (affecting skin and eyes), and gamma rays (produced along with alpha and beta particles, and stopped by 3 - 6 of concrete). The booklet diagrams the 14 element forms in the decay series of several billion years of Uranium-238 alone. Other uranium isotopes have their own unique decay series.

The following biological effects are noted as also applicable to wildlife, livestock, plants and aquatic life: somatic, dysfunction of the regulartory gene controlling cell divdision some 15 - 20 years after exposure of radiation, thus producing cancers; genetic, damaged egg and sperm cells resulting in birth defects; teratogenic, mutations in the fetus as radiation in the mother passes through the placenta, killing vital fetal cells.

The Atomic Energy Control Board does have regulations; "However, it remains unclear whether or not exploration workers are covered by these standards. Drillers have safety regulations for handling of explosives, but none for entering a radioactive area or for handling radioactive samples." Exploration workers are not unionized.

Despite a mining moratorium in British Columbia, exploration continues. Why? "The answer has always been that the radiation exposure from exploration is minimal. But all that has really been minimal so far is the evidence to support this claim.


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