Letters to the Editor: Cash minerals could cost us

Welcome to the Yukon. Now, please go home. You can have your “yellow cake” and eat it too.

Welcome to the Yukon. Now, please go home.

You can have your “yellow cake” and eat it too. But if I can help it, it won’t be here in the Yukon.

I’m well aware that our territorial government likes to say that big business initiatives are “for the benefit of all Yukoners” (unanimous table-slapping by Yukon Party members) but I challenge that as being too limited in scope and ignoring long-term negative impacts.

Cash Minerals’ proposal for a winter road etc. to access its numerous uranium claims in the Wind and Bonnet Plume watersheds constitutes the biggest assault on one of the most important wilderness areas in Canada and, if it goes ahead, could precipitate the beginning of the end for the Peel River watershed as we know it.

The initial purpose of this road is to haul in fuel (2,000 drums!), drilling equipment and various building and camp supplies to support further exploration in what it has dubbed “the Wernecke uranium district.”

In its submission to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, the company pays lip service to the area’s high wilderness value and its importance as habitat for fish and wildlife.

I can understand the fix the company is in because, although you are only exploring at the moment, uranium mining is where you hope it will take you and this is totally incompatible with wilderness values.

You cannot have both mining and wilderness — one has to go.

If we briefly imagine that, one day, you will be able to — as your company name implies — cash in on the minerals in the Wind and Bonnet Plume, it will come at a high cost for all of us.

The environmental impacts of uranium mining and milling are severe, with high risk of widespread contamination of air, land and water by radioactive materials.

For example, the Bonnet Plume caribou and other herds would be at risk from eating lichens contaminated by radioactive fallout, in turn posing a health risk to humans eating the meat.

Uranium mine tailings and waste rock require care in perpetuity, cannot be returned to a natural state and will forever remain an industrial wasteland.

It is hardly surprising that many places around the world have banned new uranium mines.

In Canada, Nunavut has a moratorium on uranium mining. Nova Scotia and British Columbia have imposed similar moratoriums.

The last date for commenting to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board on this proposal is Thursday.

Don’t let greed kill our country. Yukoners unite or it’ll be gone with the Wind.

Jannik Schou

Whitehorse