We have many choices in New Brunswick for generating the energy we need now and in the future. All our energy choices will involve mining to some degree.
The energy we use in New Brunswick requires elements mined outside the province. Those mines had and continue to have an impact on the environment and the nearby communities, often Indigenous communities.
On Dec. 10, the NB Media Co-op co-hosted a panel to discuss the mining and use of uranium, a radioactive metal necessary to fuel nuclear power reactors. All mining disrupts the natural balance of the earth but uranium mining is in a category of its own.
In New Brunswick, our nuclear reactor at the NB Power Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station on the Bay of Fundy generates about 30 per cent of our electricity supply. The Lepreau plant uses natural uranium as fuel. NB Power wants to build more nuclear reactors on the Lepreau site that will use some form of uranium or plutonium, a uranium derivative, as fuel.
The only other province in Canada with nuclear power is Ontario. Its 18 nuclear power reactors generate more than 60 per cent of Ontario’s electricity supply, and that province is also developing more nuclear reactors to keep its industry going.
The panel brought together three speakers to discuss all these issues from different perspectives.
Gordon Edwards discussed the health and environmental impacts of uranium mining, and the links with the nuclear industry in New Brunswick, Canada and globally, as well as with nuclear weapons. Edwards is president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
Lorraine Rekmans spoke about the the impacts uranium mining has on Treaty Rights and Indigenous health from the experiences of Serpent River Nation members at Elliot Lake, Ontario. Rekmans is a member of Serpent River First Nation and president of the Green Party of Canada.
Tracy Glynn spoke about the 2008 campaign in New Brunswick that mobilized to raise community awareness of the dangers of uranium exploration and mining. Glynn, an assistant professor at St. Thomas University in the Environment and Society Program, is on the board of Mining Watch Canada.
Watch the video here:
Panel moderator Susan O’Donnell is an adjunct professor at both the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University.
The panel hosts were: the RAVEN (Rural Action and Voices for the Environment) project at the University of New Brunswick, with co-hosts the Environment and Society program at St. Thomas University, Prevent Cancer Now, the NB Media Co-op, and the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB).
All the document files related to the panel are on the RAVEN website: