Digging deeper into uranium mining

Digging deeper into uranium mining I am responding to Glen Hartley's letter of May 22. Unfortunately, Hartley, a geologist from Edmonton, didn't seem to have the time to fully comprehend the points I made in my May 15th letter. In my thesis for my mast

I am responding to Glen Hartley’s letter of May 22.

Unfortunately, Hartley, a geologist from Edmonton, didn’t seem to have the time to fully comprehend the points I made in my May 15th letter.

In my thesis for my master’s degree in physics, I researched “the velocity and distribution of small radioactive particles.” Particle sizes ranged from 80 to 300 micrometres and the variables were air movement and concentrations.

Most of my knowledge about radiation stems from this research, but I also took the time to inform myself by reading international papers about current problems concerning uranium mining in places like Saskatchewan, Europe and Australia.

Hartley’s letter does not reveal if he is aware of the fact uranium ore creates three types of radiation: alpha, beta, and gamma.

The main form of radiation emitted by uranium ore is alpha radiation. It is about 20 times more dangerous to organisms than beta or gamma radiation.

The Relative Biological Effectiveness (RBE) is a measure of the fact that alpha radiation is more effective at causing certain biological effects, such as cancer or cell-death, in comparison to photon or beta radiation, for equivalent radiation exposure.

“However, to extract the uranium, the ore is being finely milled to particle sizes which easily get inside the body by inhalation and ingestion,” states Hans-Peter Schnellboegl in his study Long-term Consequences Of Uranium Mining.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, the particles can easily be assimilated into the food chain and affect both recreational and subsistence hunters in the surrounding areas.

Schnellboegl, who completed extensive research on uranium mining operations, also stated that “fine milling of the uranium ore facilitates erosion and dispersion of the tailings and increases the detrimental effect of the tailings radiation many million times!”

Hartley’s statement that uranium concentrations are generally very low as a natural occurrence does not make sense.

In Canada, we have high grade (20 per cent) uranium ore deposits (Saskatchewan) as well as low-grade (0.1 per cent) uranium ore deposits (Labrador). The refining of low-grade deposits creates more tailings than the volumes of the original ore. So why does Hartley refer to spent fuel rods of nuclear reactors while I was talking about tailings created by uranium mining?

I would appreciate a more serious attempt to challenge my statements.

Angela Sabo, physicist

Whitehorse

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