Forty eight NGOs from all over the world call on the Governments of Greenland and Denmark to continue the uranium zero tolerance policy in the Danish realm. Both governments have recently given notice that they intend to lift the ban on uranium mining in Greenland.
Avataq, NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark and the Danish Ecological Council have sent an appeal to the leader of the Greenlandic government, Aleqa Hammond, and the Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, calling on Naalakkersuisut – the Greenland Government – and the Danish government not to abolish the uranium zero tolerance policy in the Danish realm. It is stressed in the appeal that combination of rare earth elements and uranium mining is environmentally unsustainable and unnecessary, because the rare earth elements can be extracted other places in Greenland, where they are not mixed with uranium.
“Uranium mining at Kuannersuit (Kvanefjeldet) will leave behind millions of tonnes of tailings containing some of the most toxic radioactive substances. The waste will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years and in the long term, the mining could cause comprehensive radioactive contamination, which – because of the health risks – would make it dangerous to live in and make it necessary to ban fishing, hunting, agriculture and animal husbandry in significant parts of Southern Greenland”, says Mikkel Myrup, chairman of Avataq. “In Greenland, we are therefore very pleased with this international manifestation of support for our opposition against uranium mining”.
The appeal is supported by 48 NGOs from all over the world, including some of the biggest international environmental network organisations and NGOs from 27 countries. It can be downloaded here
The appeal is published on the anniversary of the meltdown of reactor 4 at the Ukrainian Chernobyl nuclear power plant. However, it is not only the enormous disasters, but the whole nuclear fuel chain from the uranium mining to the operations of the nuclear reactors to the waste disposal, necessitating safe storage for hundreds of thousands of years, that is dangerous.
“The idea of relying on nuclear power in the Danish energy supply was abandoned in 1985, which lead to the ban on uranium mining”, says Palle Bendsen from NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark. ”It is reprehensible that the government will now change its policy on uranium mining and therefore in reality on nuclear power. If the ban on uranium mining is lifted, the mining project in Kuannersuit could alone make the Danish realm the fifth largest uranium exporter in the world”.
“The long-term economic costs of radioactive pollution in Greenland could be so high that they by far exceed the short-term economic benefits of uranium mining”, says Christian Ege, director of the Danish Ecological Council. “Neither the private company licensed to mine at Kuannersuit, nor the Greenland government have the financial capacity to mitigate environmental damage from millions of tonnes of waste that remain radioactive for thousands of years. And the Danish government, which is the only stakeholder that possesses sufficient economic resources, has not given a guarantee that it will mitigate the damage, even though it will get revenue from the mining”.
For further information, please contact:
Mikkel Myrup, Avataq, Tel.: (+299) 22 84 23, E-mail: mikkelmyrup(at)post.com
Palle Bendsen, Energy and Climate Group, NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark Tel.: (+45) 98 14 76 95 / (+45) 30 13 76 95E-mail: pnb(at)mail.dk