Perspective on Uranium Exploration and Mining in the Mississippi Watershed
-summary report prepared Jan 12, 2008
by Howard Robinson (VP, MVFN)
Concerns about the exploration of Uranium in North Frontenac township range from First Nations land disputes, environmental concerns, clean drinking water, clean air, species at risk, property prices, impact on Tourism and the local exploration work opportunities. The following is written from a Source Water Protection focus and the natural environment.
Frontenac Ventures Corporation (FVC) has claim staked 30,000 acres of both private and crown land for the purpose of Uranium exploration. The company is now in the latter stages of exploration and they plan to take core samples in strategic areas on the property. The claimed property includes various small lakes, wetlands as well as the eastern shore and part of Crotch Lake.
The main stem Mississippi River flows through the staked property. Carleton Place is the first town on the river that takes water from the Mississippi River some 30km downstream (2 day water flow). The Mississippi River then flows through Almonte (Aquifer water supply) to the Ottawa River where Ottawa takes its water supply. There are private wells adjacent to the prospected area but there are no municipal wells in close proximity. The creation of future municipal wells in the area should be considered if exploration continues. The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority has taken the initiative to conduct a well-water quality sampling program to obtain a general understanding of the ground water conditions in the staked mining exploration area and to obtain a water quality baseline.
First Nations and their supporters are calling for a moratorium on Uranium exploration and mining in Eastern Ontario to protect the natural environment, including public heath with regards to air and water quality should Uranium be extracted or disturbed from the rock. Numerous townships, Counties and organizations have provided letters of support for the moratorium.
FVC was blocked (since June 28th 2007) from entering the property owing to a peaceful blockade by local First Nations groups along with supportive non-natives or settlers. The First Nations has a land claim on most of the property however the Provincial government under the Mining Act has allowed a land use permit to FVC. FVC obtained a Provincial court injunction which was served giving the company access to the property for non-drilling work pending the outcome of mediation talks between the Provincial and Federal Governments, Algonquin First Nations and Frontenac Ventures Corporation. The process is currently scheduled to expire on January 28th 2008 unless extended.
While current exploration activity may not directly affect municipal water systems covered by the Clean Water Act because of dilution over proximity distance, it may have an impact on private wells in the area and general airborne contamination. Other concerns related to source water protection include the safety of tailings ponds from natural causes or human accidents.
According to the Geological Survey of Canada the areas of Uranium significance cover a much larger area in Eastern Ontario and West Quebec. These zones also map into adjacent Source Water Protection regions. If current prospecting results prove feasible, then more exploration could result. Another exploration company ‘RJK’ is also actively exploring in the Mississippi Valley.
From a Clean Water Act perspective, ‘No risk’ is preferred to ‘Low risk’. A possible solution would be to place a moratorium on Uranium exploration, mining and processing within the Source Water Protection (SWP) Regions until the risks are fully understood and mitigated. See the following link for a mapping of current Source Water Protection regions.
As Stewards for the Natural environment and member of the Water Guardians Network in conjunction with the Clean Water Act, MVFN has escalated several major concerns to appropriate agencies as well as writing the Premier and applicable ministries.
• The above concern was first reported as a potential threat to Water Guardians and our Conservation Authority associated with Source Water Protection in June 2007. For Information on the Water Guardians Network see http://www.thewaterhole.ca/home.htm
• Our MVFN representative is active on the newly formed Source Water Committee (SWC) for our Source Water Protection (SWP) region. A member Inquiry was successfully introduced on the above subject at the inaugural meeting Jan 10th 2008 which was unanimously accepted by the committee, thereby making the inquiry official for our local conservation authority. For more information on Source Water Protection in our watershed see http://mrsourcewater.ca/welcome/index.html
• From an environmental perspective, the Algonquin to Adirondack (A2A) Conservation initiative would be impacted if mining is established. Uranium zones shown by the Geological Survey of Canada demonstrate this impact when mapped to the plan. The mapping of this concern is shown as slides in uranium-zones-in-a2a.pdf This concern has been escalated and accepted by the A2A association and that of Ontario Nature through the Western director. For more information on the A2A Conservation Initiative see http://www.a2alink.org/index.html
• MVFN members have privately or through other organizational associations provided input to the Provincial Government Environmental Registry for the review of the current claim staking and mineral exploration process as part of the Mining Act as of September 26th 2007. The government is proceeding through the review process on this topic. For more information see EBR 010-1018 at http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTAxMDIx&statusId=MTUwOTE1&language=en
Other Information Links:
• For information on Frontenac Ventures Corporation see http://www.frontenacventures.com Unfortunately corporate information on their exploration details at on this link appears to have been removed at this time.
• For more information mainly with respect to the science of Uranium see http://ccamu.ca/
• Research Information site for Dr Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
• Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/
• Uranium Activity in Ontario per the following ministry poster http://www.mndm.gov.on.ca/mndm/mines/ogs/posters/PDAC_07/PDAC_Uranium_2007.pdf
** A warning for dial-up users. The Poster is a large detailed file greater than 2.5MB.