Québec, July 17 2015 – The Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MDDELCC), Mr. David Heurtel, has made public today the report of the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement on the environmental and social impacts of uranium exploration and mining. To this end, the Minister has indicated that an in-depth analysis of the report’s conclusions will be undertaken by an inter-ministerial committee over the course of the following weeks. Along with the MDDELCC, this committee will include the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and well as other ministries and organizations that are implicated.
“The government will take the time necessary to undertake a serious and rigorous analysis of the BAPE’s conclusions. We can see that the development of uranium exploration and mining projects raises concerns, and we are committed to making informed decisions that take into account the repercussions that this type of activity can have on the environment, the economy and the social milieu of local communities and Aboriginal populations. In Quebec, the exploitation of our natural resources must be done in a responsible manner, and never at the expense of the population’s safety or the quality of our social environments,” Minister Heurtel stated.
The report raises questions regarding the potential risks to the environment and public safety, the management of radioactive waste and the consequences of developing uranium mines in Northern Quebec. Further, the BAPE emphasizes that there is little consensus regarding uranium development, both scientifically and socially.
In its report, the BAPE includes over 90 opinions and 130 observations. It indicates namely that uranium mining in Quebec will require, first, that social acceptability be obtained by (amongst other things) developing informational programs and a strategy for consultation and dialogue. The BAPE also indicates that it will have to address the many technological and scientific gaps and uncertainties by putting in place knowledge acquisition programs, which will take several years. Finally, a review of the legal and regulatory framework is required to ensure that uranium mining is regulated on the basis of rules that are harmonized with federal legislation within the context of a federal-provincial agreement.
The BAPE’s mandate to undertake an public inquiry and consultation process on the uranium industry in Quebec began on May 20, 2014, and ended on May 20, 2015. The James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment and the Kativik Environmental Advisory Committee were also involved in the public consultation process.
The BAPE’s report on the uranium industry can be found on the BAPE’s website at http://www.bape.gouv.qc.ca/.