Parties against renewal of uranium mining

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Liberec, Sept 11 (CTK) - Representatives of the strongest six parties that will run in the regional elections in October Thursday unanimously rejected the idea of uranium mining being renewed in the Liberec region.

The discussion meeting today was organised by a local NGO to show politicians' position on the issue many locals worry about.

Local leaders of the Social Democrats (CSSD), the Civic Democrats (ODS), the Green Party, the Open Society Party, the Mayors for the Liberec Region and the Coalition for the Liberec Region agreed that if they were elected to the regional assembly they would do everything to prevent the efforts at the renewal of uranium mining in the region.

Representatives of the two last mentioned parties said they consider it unacceptable for municipalities not to have a chance to express their opinion on the state protection of the local uranium deposits.

The Environment Ministry declared the Osecna locality as a protected uranium deposit at the request of the state mining company Diamo, on the basis of a law dating back to the communist era.

As a result, any construction is banned in the area.

ODS regional election leader Radim Zika, who is a deputy to the regional governor, said the region has tools to prevent the mining.

"It is mainly the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment system). We will definitively use it," he said, adding that the region's raw materials policy does not reckon with the uranium mining's renewal either.

A total of 164 uranium deposits have been detected on Czech soil since 1945, and uranium was mined in 66 of them in the past.

The last uranium mine still operates in Rozna, south Moravia.

In the Liberec region, uranium was mined at two localities, including Osecna, from the 1960s. In the other locality, Straz pod Ralskem, Diamo used sulphuric acid in the mining, a method that devastated nature and still remains a nightmare to local residents.

Four million tonnes of sulphuric acid and other chemical substances form a large underground "lake" in Straz pod Ralskem. The removal of the damage would reportedly take up to 40 years and cost 50 billion crowns.

In Hamr near Osecna, Diamo used the more usual method of mining, but it seriously harmed the landscape as well.

Diamo halted the mining in both localities in the early 1990s but now its renewal is starting to be discussed, as the price of uranium at world markets has increased more than 7 times.

In Straz the deposits contain 115,000 tonnes of ore worth up to 500 billion crowns. Further 20,000 tonnes are in Osecna.

"This is a big value, its mining cannot be ruled out in the future, this would be irresponsible," Industry and Trade Minister Martin Riman (ODS) said during a visit to Ralsko this spring.

Environment Minister Martin Bursik (Greens) has repeatedly assured the locals that he would not allow the mining's renewal but no one seems to rely on this.

The opponents strive for the deposit's protection to be abolished. "We want the uranium underground deposits to be definitively written off," said Josef Jadrny, a local activist.

Posted in |