CBHSSJB expresses concerns about impact of uranium development on health in Eeyou Istchee

ᔪᕃ ᓂ ᔭᒻ

November 10, 2014
Photo: Joshua Loon (taken near Mistissini, Quebec)

Read the full text of CHB Chair Bella M. Petawabano's presentation at the BAPE here: http://creehealth.org/sites/default/files/BAPE%20presentation-15Dec2014.pdf

The regional Public Health Department of the CBHSSJB has submitted a statement to the Bureau des audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) on uranium development in Quebec.

The report, entitled "Potential health and psychosocial impacts of uranium development in Eeyou Istchee", examines potential public health impacts of uranium exploration and mining for the Cree people of Eeyou Istchee, and concludes that "uranium development in Eeyou Istchee might add to the significant burden of physical and social health problems already occurring in the communities."

The Statement by the Public Health Department of the Cree Health Board further acknowledges Resolution 2014-15 passed by the Grand Council of the Crees on August 7, 2014 in support of a permanent ban on uranium exploration and mining in Eeyou Istchee. 

Contents of the 28-page Statement include:

  • HEALTH PORTRAIT OF THE JAMES BAY CREE
  • HEALTH ISSUES RELATED TO THE PRESENCE OF NATURAL URANIUM IN SOIL AND BEDROCK
  • HEALTH IMPACTS OF URANIUM DEVELOPMENT ON COMMUNITIES
  • URANIUM MINERS' HEALTH ISSUES
  • POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF URANIUM MINING ON THE ENVIRONMENT
    Contaminants in the air, water and soil near uranium mines
    Contaminants in wildlife
    Management of waste rock and tailings
    Emergencies and climate change

Excerpt from the Summary:

The Public Health Department of the Cree Health Board is concerned that uranium development in EI might add to the significant burden of physical and social health problems already occurring in the communities.

Even though extensive environmental controls have been achieved in modern uranium mines operating in Canada, the large quantities of tailings on closed mine sites will require maintenance and monitoring indefinitely and are at risk of contaminating the environment at some point in the future.

The Public Health Department of the CBHSSJB recommends that the BAPE take into account the specific concerns of the Cree people with respect to uranium mining in lands of which they have been the main inhabitants for thousands of years:

  • the health of humans is closely linked to the health of the environment – its water, air, soil, flora and fauna

  • indigenous peoples consider themselves stewards of the land and they wish to keep the environment safe and healthy for future generations

  • the people would not want uranium to be produced from their traditional lands if it might (through use for weapons or accidents related to nuclear fuel) cause disease and death among people anywhere on the planet.

The regional Public Health Department acknowledges the clear decision taken by the Cree Nation Government in their ‘Eeyou / James Bay Cree Nation / Eeyou Itchee Permanent Uranium Moratorium’ (Resolution 2014-15) (link). The Public Health Department of the CBHSSJB supports the right of the Cree Nation to make such decisions under their jurisdiction.

Read complete Public Health brief here. (PDF)