Friday, October 22, 2010

Tanzania could lose precious water, and money, with uranium mining

Comment:  "Million litres of water are required every day!"   No to uranium mining and milling!  Daily Nation
October 20 2010

Tanzania will soon join African countries like Namibia, Niger, and Malawi as uranium exporters, if proposed mining projects are approved by the government.

Short-term benefits include jobs for thousands of Tanzanians and tax income for the government.
However, the long-term health and environmental consequences associated with uranium and all other mining activities need to be evaluated.

One environmental consequence of uranium mining is that the process uses enormous amounts of water.

A recent estimate by a mining company in Namibia suggested that a million litres of water are required every day. One of the proposed areas for uranium mining in Tanzania is in Manyoni District in Singida region.

Water is already scarce there and it would be imprudent to let one company consume huge amounts of water at the expense of area inhabitants.

Uranium mining relies on open pit operations which leave huge craters.

The soil in the craters is usually contaminated with radioactive materials and cannot be used for other activities for many years. Radioactive dust particles are dispersed by wind and can spread to large areas, posing a health hazard to surrounding communities.

It has been documented that exposure to even relatively low levels of radiation over a long period of time can be harmful to human health.

What plans are in place to ensure that workers and people living in these areas are protected and will be taken care of if radioactive contamination occurs?…..

If global demand for uranium were to decrease, the estimated value of these deposits would also drop. Therefore, it is unclear how much revenue uranium mining would really bring to Tanzania.

It should also be clarified who should be responsible for the cleaning up of contaminated soil after the mining activities stop. These issues need to be addressed before uranium mining is approved.

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