Why is it harmful and why do we even use it?
Do people really understand what uranium is or how it is used to generate electricity? The Uranium Network decided to produce a short film — Uranium Mining — what are we talking about? — that explains it, step by step. A booklet of the same name is now also available to accompany the film.
From The Uranium Network:
When in 2007 / 2008, the price of uranium skyrocketed from around US$ 20 per pound to nearly US$ 140 per pound, mining companies from all over the world set out to find uranium – a new uranium rush had started.
Local populations were unprepared for the onslaught of the mining companies – and for the most part, people were unaware of what uranium is, let alone knowing about its uses or impacts from mining.
Africa became a major target for uranium exploration.
The general public in the vast majority of African countries had no experience or knowledge about uranium or its exploitation; thus, it was easy for interested companies to veil their intentions when exploring for uranium; Governments instead emphasized the jobs which would be created, and the energy that might be generated, rather than the risks and dangers associated with uranium and its exploitation.
Uranium Mining – what are we talking about? explores the properties and uses of uranium; radioactivity and its health impacts; the mining process and its impacts on health, environment and society; and the financial and social costs of rehabilitation – based on factual information as well as experiences from affected communities.
Uranium Mining — what are we talking about? — runs one hour and 16 minutes, is produced by Günter Wippel and Katja Becker and is narrated by Claus Biegert.
The booklet accompanying the film “Uranium Mining – what are we talking about?” features the actual text of the film for greater understanding, and on the facing page additional in-depth information on the issues covered.
The additional information is supplemented with many links to scientific publications, newspaper articles, and relevant books, along with films and videos.
The booklet offers readers, first and foremost, more detailed information and background, providing a better and more in-depth understanding of issues which could only be touched on briefly in the film.
It also provides links and leads to the results of scientific research on the issue of uranium exploitation, an area of importance and interest to decision makers, journalists and activists seeking a deeper understanding of the issue.
The booklet covers all issues around uranium mining – from a brief history of nuclear fission, to easy-to-understand explanations of radiation, as well as the health impacts that arise from exploration, mining methods and the problems caused by tailings.
The issue of land use, land ownership and land rights, only briefly touched upon in the film, is addressed, with examples from several countries.
The often less considered ‘side effects’ of uranium exploitation, such as the enormous water consumption and the energy needs of mines and mills, as well as their CO-2 production, are covered in detail.
Mining is often advertised as a way out of poverty for developing countries; a closer look at the social impacts of uranium exploitation shows that a question mark needs to be put on such statements. Examples from several countries paint a more complex picture.
Uranium exploitation is an economic undertaking that is supposed to also benefit the countries where the mining takes place. Costs incurred after mining ceases are, however, often not taken into consideration; the booklet takes a closer look at the costs of reclamation of mines, mills and tailings, based on examples throughout the world.
Last but not least, future generations will have to deal with the aftermath of uranium exploitation, one way or the other. How is this taken into account – and are their rights considered at all? The booklet draws some conclusions.
Headline photo: Abandoned uranium mine, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, AI/Creative Commons.