By Jarret Adams, AREVA Resources CanadaDuring her most recent visit to Saskatoon last week, Helen Caldicott managed to stay one step ahead of anyone who knows the facts about nuclear energy. A well-known antinuclear activist, Dr. Caldicott is also well known for making outrageous statements about the nuclear energy industry that do not withstand scrutiny. While in Saskatchewan, she focused her attention on the uranium mining sector – since it supplies 18 percent of the world’s uranium.
Before getting into Dr. Caldicott’s nonsense, here are a few facts about uranium mining in Canada:
- Uranium mining is among the safest of all mining and industrial sectors in Canada.
- The uranium mining sector is well regulated, and the health and safety of workers carefully monitored and documented.
- Uranium mining creates about 5,000 jobs in Canada providing nearly $600M in wages and benefits.
At her Saskatoon talk on Nov. 1, attended by about 100 people, she began by likening the nuclear industry to the Nazis and calling its employees “immoral.”
A staple in Dr. Caldicott’s routine is referencing a Russian report published in English by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) that claims over a million people have died because of Chernobyl. Predictably, she cited this report at her Saskatoon talk.
However, what she does not mention is that this report is widely discredited and disagrees with the findings of all other major studies on Chernobyl. The original report was compiled by a Russian Greenpeace activist and translated by an American antinuclear activist. It was not commissioned or endorsed by the NYAS and is no longer available from the NYAS site – What one would find there now are two scathing critiques of the many shortcomings of the original report.
Saskatoon-based radio commentator John Gormley was exasperated following an Oct. 31 interview with Dr. Caldicott, saying she “sounded like a person unhinged.”
“Attempting to fact check and correct her rambling and apocalyptic one liners was like that old I Love Lucy episode where everything goes wrong on the assembly line – there was just too much going on,” Gormley wrote in an Nov. 1 op-ed in the Star-Phoenix.
In fact, her outlandish claims are nothing new on her Canadian visits. In 2010, she encouraged the citizens of Port Hope, Ontario to evacuate due to radioactive contamination, which prompted none other than the President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to write: “Her claims are nothing more than unacceptable fear-mongering.”
One final note: a very good critique of Dr. Caldicott’s lack of facts behind her arguments was done by George Monbiot of The UK Guardian following a debate last year between the two.