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Photo by Donkeet, who is not affiliated with Haiti Mining Awareness


Genocide of Alpacas, at least in Peru? Perhaps also genocide of the indigenous Quechua people and destruction of their way of life?  Over 900 km2, 90,000 ha or 222,395 acres is being explored for open pit, heap leach uranium mining near Macusani Peru. The Macusani area is homeland to the indigenous Quechua people, Alpacas and Alpaca farming.  The wool is an export product.  The proposed mines are open pit and heap leach which means that dust will not only poison the people and alpacas, but the wool for export will be contaminated. Additionally both dust and heap leach assure that the waterways and ultimately the Amazon River will be polluted.  There are other examples of the impacts of dust from open pit uranium mines, in the Black Hills of South Dakota and among the Navajo, which merit discussion.  The involvement of more than one expert on uranium mining in Haiti, raises questions, as well.

The current holder of the proposed mine is Macusani Yellowcake.  Those familiar with Alpacas will know that Macusani Alpacas are the most valuable of Alpacas due to their quality fleece, breeding programs and pedigrees, and currently fetch up to $35,000 each in the US; $100,000 for a prize-winning one.  Macusani, Peru, is the world center for Alpaca fiber production, according to National Geographic.  About 10 to 15 Alpaca can graze per hectare.  Some say up to 25.  This means that around 1,350,000 Alpacas could graze this 90,000 ha.  There are an estimated 3,500,000 Alpacas in Peru, which has about 80% of the world population (approximately 4,375,000).  Hence, as many as 39% of Peru’s Alpacas and 1/3rd of world Alpaca population will be directly impacted by proposed open pit uranium mining due to loss of grazing land.  Over 65,000 families depend on the Alpaca who is key to the economy in the rural Andean region.  These “Pastores Alpaqueros” practice a traditional breeding system and the women spin and weave the alpaca fleece and make items for use or to sell in local markets. The meat comprises the main source of protein in their diet.  Peru’s Alpaca fiber, textile, clothing manufacturing industry includes over 500 exporting companies, most of which are small family-owned businesses the exception are 15 well-established manufacturing companies.  In 2011, Peru exported about 130 million dollar’s worth of alpaca textile, yarn, fiber and clothing.

If Alpacas survive loss of grazing land, and poisoning by uranium dust, and uranium laced water, the Alpaca textile market will collapse once people understand that the fleece is contaminated with uranium dust blown on the wind, tracked by workers, or washed in contaminated water.  The wind can blow from different directions multiplying the impact.  The Lakota people of the Black Hills and the Navajo can tell us a thing or two about open pit uranium mining.  What some call yellowcake the Navajo call Leetso the Yellow Monster and it is a big monster that stomps on and kills the poor innocent people.

How can we even start to talk about the disaster that uranium mining near Macusani will be?  A disaster for the Alpaca, a disaster for the Quechuan people, a disaster for tourism, and even a disaster for the Amazon river basin.  Macusani is the highest point in the Province of Carabaya.  Nearly all of the waters of the Province of Carabaya are tributary to the Inambari River, of southeast Peru.  Various mountain streams form a small river which passes by Macusani and unites with the Corani and forms the Ollachea river.  These waterways seem to cross the mining property.  The Ollachea flows to the Madre de Dios River, which flows to the Madeira River, which is the largest tributary to the Amazon River.  If the open pit uranium mines of the Black Hills of South Dakota can poison the Mississippi River, then open pit uranium mining near Macusani can most surely contaminate the Amazon.

As for Thatcher:  No, this isn’t a joke and it is a strange coincidence to find such information so close to her funeral.  According to various mining articles and to Peter Hooper of Macusani Yellowcake, when interviewd by “Midas Letter” on June 13, 2012, Margaret Thatcher “persuaded the British Geological Survey to fly Peru and half of Chile for airborne geophysics including radiometrics in 1980 and ‘81…Out of that came hundreds of airborne anomalies and one of the biggest anomalies, it’s right where we are.” Although we have not found documentation which supports this claim, we see no reason that he would have fabricated this almost a year before her death.  Additionally, we have read that she pushed for uranium mining in Orkney, Scotland.  This was opposed and defeated and would have been a disaster for Orkney’s fishing, dairy farming and tourism.  There was, nonetheless, some evidence of uranium in Peru and Orkney before her tenure as Prime Minister.  There is official documented evidence of her support of uranium mining by Rio Tinto in Namibia.  One would think that as a research chemist she would have known better.  However, perhaps she did not have biological sciences, and when she would have been a student, not as much was known about radiation or genetics.  When Thatcher was young xrays were used to measure feet to fit shoes.  Nevertheless, Karen Silkwood credited her high school chemistry class for helping her to understand what was going on at Kerr-McGee’s plutonium fuels production plant

Dale Schultz, whose work for Majescor and elsewhere, we have discussed at length in our post “the Great Drill bit Screw-up”, was the Qualifed Person for Solex Resources Pilunani/Macusani Projects when Solex was the largest owner of the Macusani Uranium Concessions.  Solex became Southern Andes Energy, Inc. in May 2010, and Southern Andes merged with Macusani Yellowcake in early (Feb 3 to April 13) 2012.  The merged company holds over 900 km2 (90,000 ha) or over 222,395 acres, of land in south-eastern Peru, making Macusani the dominant landholder in the region.  Very worrisome is that in the interview, Hooper says that uranium mining is treated as a base metal with no special rules.  Furthermore, in the interview, Hooper explains that the uranium mining is for export, most likely to the China, Korea or Japan.  Pilunani, by the way, is a lead, zinc prospect in Peru.  Surely we don’t need to explain the dangers of lead poisoning, which would come with the Pilunani mine: “Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. It interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders. Symptoms include abdominal pain, confusion, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death”.

Dale J. Schultz is much younger than Thatcher so what is his excuse?  It is hard to imagine that he could receive a university degree in science (BS) without studying chemistry.  Did he miss biology perhaps?  We have been inclined to believe that he hates all life, even his own, to be involved in uranium exploration.  But, since he studied at the University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan has the largest uranium mine in the world, perhaps his education was slanted.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Those who read Sunday’s post in the first few hours of its posting, will notice the change in title from uranium poisoning to Alpaca genocide.  Genocide is the killing of large numbers of a group.  There are some Alpaca outside of Peru and so some will survive.  But, the majority are in Peru.  We changed the title for clarity because we did not have in mind acute radiation poisoning, and some might understand uranium poisoning as that.  Nonetheless, we cannot exclude the possibility of acute radiation poisoning with open pit uranium mines.


When we speak and spoke of uranium poisoning we mean in the more generic sense of poisoning.  According to Wikipedia:  “In the context of biology, poisons are substances that cause disturbances to organisms, usually by chemical reaction or other activity on the molecular scale, when a sufficient quantity is absorbed by an organism.”.  It seems that the DNA damage caused by radiation easily falls under this definition.  And, radiation poisoning can be gradual and cumulative but we are as or more interested in the mutagenic effects, which can even be transmitted through the generations.  Whether it appears so or not, this author is educated, and studied chemistry, as well as genetics, physiology, and biochemistry at the university level.  Inorganic chemistry was studied under a retired researcher from one of the earliest and largest atomic research labs.  However, that was decades ago.  The knowledge which remains after I forgot everything is simply that all radioactive stuff is bad and to be avoided.  In those days of the “cold war” we also learned in high school about what to expect at certain distances from ground zero.  When the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended I was most happy because I would no longer have to pontificate my distance from ground zero, and in the event of nuclear war, if I would be in the crater, subjected to the moving firewall or what my degrees of radiation poisoning might be!  Others were excited for other reasons but that was my foremost consideration and relief.  So, why are we still discussing this nuclear stuff?  Don’t we know better?  Why must we even waste time thinking about this again?  Why are we still mining for uranium?  This is old hat and old school.  We should not need to distinguish between degrees of uranium or other radioactive poisonings and whether or not it is poisoning per se.  Or, if the effects are from it acting as a heavy metal or from radiation.  There should be no need to debate its mutagenic effects, in this day and age.  Why should we even be speaking of this?  Why should I have to try and shake and dust the memories of this horrid stuff from the cobwebs of my mind?  It is ridiculous! (Our technical advisor, who studied nuclear physics at one of the top universities in the world, and has a younger, less dusty mind agrees that its dangers are well enough known that we should not have to discuss it).  And, if Germany can use solar panels with its often sunless skies, how much more could solar panels in the US sunbelt and other sunny places light up the world?  If this author has had failing memory for a quarter of a century, one thing is not forgotten and it is really to just stay away from the stuff (am I repeating here?).  There is no safe level of radiation.  At any level we are putting our necks out and waiting for the guillotine to fall and depending upon the capacity of our bodies to self-repair DNA.  Unfortunately, the more there is exposure to radiation, the more damage is done from radiation, and the more repairs to DNA must be made and the greater the risk of a permanent mutagenic mistake, which can result in cancers and in deformities in offspring.  There is no safe, threshold level.  Risk increases with exposure.  We have had Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukoshima and others.  We have hidden disasters such as continue to impact the Navajo and the Black Hills of South Dakota and others.  How stupid can we get?  Why must we waste time debating and researching the degrees and types of damage from uranium mining?  Just stay away from the stuff!  Instead, why don’t we spend our time studying Quechua or Aymara language and culture or other interesting things?  Why not study Irish or Scots Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Raeto-Romansh or Basque languages and cultures?  Why do people like Peter Hooper and Dale Schultz and so many others seem to think that we have nothing to learn from the past or from other, older cultures?  While the European ancestors of Dale Schultz,(and possibly Peter Hooper’s), and many others, were most probably flinging the contents of chamber pots from village windows to land on hapless passersby, until their arrival in Canada (where we imagine they had an outhouse (privy) in Saskatchewan), the Peruvian Quechua-Incas had basic plumbing in the Middle Ages.  Even the Alpacas use communal dung heaps, likely due to 5,000 years of training by the Quechua.  The indigenous inhabitants of Skara Brae in Orkney, another area targeted for uranium mining, had water and a toilet in each house 5,000 years ago.  Basic plumbing is believed, by epidemiologists, to be more responsible for decreasing or eradicating most diseases than anything else, including immunization.  Cholera, now in Haiti, is a case in point.  It has been eradicated elsewhere where there is basic plumbing, and the immunizations for cholera are only partially effective.  An Inca leader was said to have sent messages to the leaders of other lands “extolling the benefits of joining his empire, offering them presents of luxury goods such as high quality textiles” (read here Alpaca wool), “and promising that they would be materially richer as subject rulers of the Inca.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inca_Empire
Why do Schultz and Hooper want to destroy these cultures?  Why do they think they have the right to exterminate another people and their culture? If other cultures were centuries ahead in plumbing and hygiene, might they not know other important things, which we still do not know, like the benefits of Alpacas and Alpaca fleece?  The Quechua and Alpaca barely survived the Spanish conquest.  Why destroy them with uranium mining?  Why must we waste our time discussing or studying stupidities like radiation?  Just stay away from it!

Since some may still not be convinced by a “just say no” approach or still think this is some wild-eyed extremist view; and because good information on the internet is not as easy to find, as one would expect (leading us to wonder about pro-nuclear lobby influence), and above all to get shut of this topic once and for all, we will either summarize or quote basic conservative mainstream views, at length, on the topic:  from a mainstream textbook, then from an EC document, from Wikipedia, then from the US, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (some of the earliest to do nuclear/atomic research), and only then and lastly will we quote from  Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, who speaks specifically to the topic of uranium mining.


The first information is from a textbook published by an important mainstream US textbook company: In a section on the biological effects of radiation, the authors explain to us that ionizing radiation has enough energy to knock electrons from atoms or molecules, thus forming ions. Ionizing radiation includes alpha particles, beta particles, neutrons, gamma rays, and x-rays. These can damage or kill living cells. They are especially harmful when they affect the protein and DNA molecules involved in cell reproduction. The impacts of radiation on living beings include short-term and long-term defects, as well effects on offspring. Up to 250mSv of ionizing radiation produces no visible effects in the short-term, but they note that “the cumulative effects of such exposures are not fully understood”.  An increased likelihood of getting cancer is the most frequent long-term effect, especially cancer of the blood or bone. Among early workers with radionuclides, many developed cancer, up to 40 years later, from small doses of radiation over long periods of time. They note that it is disturbing that “there seems to be no lower limit, or threshold below which the genetic effects of radiation are negligible”. In context, they seem to mean on offspring, but the majority consensus is that there is no safe threshold of ionizing radiation, period, as will be shown below. See:  “An Introduction to Physical Sciences” by James Shipman, Jerry Wilson, and Aaron Todd, 8th ed., NY:  Houghton Mifflin Co:  1997, pp. 283-284.

The US governmental Oak Ridge document (2012), which we cite at length below, clearly explains that there is no safe, risk-free threshold or lower limit, as does a European Commission document, “Cancer Risks after Exposure to Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation – Contribution and Lessons Learnt from Epidemiology” by Per Hall:
“The linear no-threshold model has gradually developed during the approximately 100 years that has passed since the first discovery of the carcinogenic effect of ionizing radiation in 1902.” (p. 22)  The reference given for this 1902 date is “Frieben A  (1902) Demonstration eines Cancroides des rechten Handruckens, das sich nach langdauernder Einwirkung von Roentgenstrahlen enwickelt hat. Forthschr Röntgenstr 6: 106-111″[Demonstration of a squamous cell carcinoma on the back of the right-hand that has developed after long-term exposure to X-rays].  The same EC document notes that “Altitude above sea level determines the dose received from cosmic radiation, while radiation from the ground depends on the local geology, construction and ventilation of houses.” (p. 28)  This means that the people and Alpaca of Macusani are at additional risk due to high altitude.  See:  http://ec.europa.eu/energy/nuclear/radiation_protection/doc/publication/125.pdf

In the English Wikipedia article on Radiation-induced cancer we are told:  “Internal contamination due to ingestion, inhalation, injection, or absorption is a particular concern because the radioactive material may stay in the body for an extended period of time, ‘committing’ the subject to accumulating dose long after the initial exposure has ceased, albeit at low dose rates. Over a hundred people, including Eben Byers and the radium girls, have received committed doses in excess of 10 Gy and went on to die of cancer or natural causes, whereas the same amount of acute external dose would invariably cause an earlier death by acute radiation syndrome…/Although radiation was discovered in late 19th century, the dangers of radioactivity and of radiation were not immediately recognized.  Acute effects of radiation were first observed in the use of X-rays when Wilhelm Röntgen intentionally subjected his fingers to X-rays in 1895. He published his observations concerning the burns that developed, though he attributed them to ozone rather than to X-rays. His injuries healed later./ The genetic effects of radiation, including the effects on cancer risk, were recognized much later. In 1927 Hermann Joseph Muller published research showing genetic effects, and in 1946 was awarded the Nobel prize for his findings. Radiation was soon linked to bone cancer in the radium dial painters, but the was not confirmed until large scale animal studies after world war II. The risk was then quantified through long-term studies of atomic bomb survivors.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation-induced_cancer
This suggests that Margaret Thatcher might have known better, but apparently it was thought that there was an acceptable threshold level, when she would have been at school.  So, maybe she can be let off the hook?  But, Schultz, Hooper (Macusani Yellowcake), Majescor, Kent Ausburn, Powertech, and other advocates of uranium mining, nuclear power, etc., who are under 88 years old, should know better.  There are people older than 88 who do know better.  And, as a politician Thatcher should have kept up to date.

Next we give you segments from a November 2012 document from  Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), associated with one of the earliest Atomic Research facilities, Oak Ridge National Lab:  “The Medical Aspects of Radiation Incidents’ Revised:  11/14/2012, The Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site”
pp. 5-6: “The five types of radiation of primary importance:  Alpha (α) particles: charged particles made up of two protons and two neutrons emitted from heavy nuclei including U [Uranium], Pu [Plutonium], and Am [Americium].”  Although Alpha particles cannot penetrate they “can be important in an inhalation or ingestion incident. Due largely to their relatively large size and charge, alpha particles are efficient at creating ionization, thus increasing the potential for biological damage. Therefore, regulatory limits on intakes of radioisotopes emitting alpha particles are typically much more restrictive than for other radiations.  Beta (β) particles:  electrons emitted from the nuclei of isotopes such as tritium and 90Sr … Large quantities of beta-emitting radioactive materials deposited on the skin can damage the basal layer of the epidermis, or deeper, and cause what are commonly referred to as radiation burns. Beta-emitters are also important if inhaled or ingested.  Gamma (γ) rays: non-particulate electromagnetic radiation (with wavelengths shorter than UV) capable of creating ionization that are emitted from various radioisotopes. Gamma rays originate in the nucleus. They are highly energetic and can pass through matter easily, indicating that they are not very efficient at creating ionization (compared to alpha particles, for instance)…Because of its high penetrability, gamma radiation can result in exposure to the internal organs from external sources resulting in damage to them, and are thusly a concern for external irradiation. Dense materials such as lead are used to shield gamma rays.  X-rays:  different from gamma rays only in their point of origin: outside of the nucleus as opposed to within it.  Neutrons: uncharged particles, important because they are emitted during the fission process and in some nondestructive testing procedures…Neutrons can have from 3 to 20 times more risk of future effects associated with them than gamma rays…/
Means of Exposure:  An individual may receive radiation dose from an external source, by loose radioactive material deposited on the skin or equipment, or by ingesting or inhaling radiological particulates. Ingestion or inhalation of radioactive material may cause internal dose to the whole body or to a specific organ over a period of time, but dose levels received in this manner have historically not normally been acutely lethal./ Irradiation vs. Contamination:  A person is irradiated when they are ‘exposed’ to ionizing radiation in much the same way a person is ‘exposed’ to light when someone shines a flashlight on them. In the case of irradiation there is no material transferred. This means that an irradiated patient has no radioactive material on them and poses no radiological hazard to the treatment team./  When people have radioactive materials on/in them they are said to be contaminated. Note that a person is not contaminated with alpha particles, for instance, but with materials such as 241Am that emit alpha particles. A good way to think of this is to imagine a sealed container of radioactive baby powder (This one emits gamma rays!). One can hold the container and be exposed to the gamma rays penetrating through the walls of the container without getting the baby powder on his hands. Should a leak develop around the lid allowing some of the material to/ (p.7) escape, the person may have the powder on his hands, thus resulting in contamination./Controlling radioactive contamination is very similar to controlling the baby powder that leaked above. A common sense approach should be taken to limit the spread of the material. This is usually done by proper utilization of protective clothing, controlling entry and exit to/from a contaminated area, minimizing the amount of material dispersed into the air, and proper personnel monitoring. There are other methods one can employ to control the spread of contamination (use of negative pressure, avoid actions that may resuspend the material, covering or removing unnecessary items from the area, etc.), but typically, contamination control is a process that, although important, needn’t be overly complicated.”

Impacts Of Ionizing Radiation, from p. 44:  “Within minutes to hours after exposure to ionizing radiation, proteins are modified and activated, and large-scale changes occur in the gene expression profiles involving a broad variety of cell-process pathways. There are presently approximately 90 known proteins that show changes in expression or undergo post-translational modifications after exposure to ionizing radiation.  Some of these change in a dose-dependent fashion. Use of biochemical markers in a multi-parameter assay represents an exciting new development in radiation dosimetry./
Section 8 – Delayed Effects
Delayed effects of radiation exposure include radiation-induced carcinogenesis, genetic issues in offspring, late organ effects (typically vascular changes, fibrosis, atrophy and thyroid dysfunction), cataracts, and infertility.
Lung Complications:  Radiation injury to the lung due to acute exposures is an important, medically difficult aspect of high-dose radiation incidents that may not occur until several months post-exposure. The most radiosensitive subunit of the lung is the alveolar/capillary complex, and early radiation-induced lung injury is often described as diffuse alveolar damage. These complications may arise due to acute doses to the lungs in excess of 800 to 1,000 rads (8-10 Gy). Reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by radiation damage are directly toxic to lung cells and initiate a cascade of molecular events that alter the cytokine milieu of the microenvironment, creating a self-sustaining cycle of inflammation and chronic oxidative stress. A variety of cytokines have been implicated as indicators/mediators of lung injury./Replacement of normal lung parenchyma by fibrosis is generally the culminating event. Depending on the dose/dose rate and volume of lung irradiated, acute radiation pneumonitis may develop, characterized by dry cough and dyspnea. Fibrosis of the lung, which causes further dyspnea, is a possible late complication.”
pp. 44-45.  “Studies on Long-Term Effects of Radiation:  The Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) Committee 7 of the National Academy of Sciences, in its recent report (BEIR VII, 2006), extensively considered the mathematical risk-dose models currently in use. The BEIR VII committee concluded that the best model for the risk of delayed effects is still the linear non-threshold model (LNT). The LNT model implies that the risk of a given delayed effect goes through zero at zero dose and increases linearly with increasing dose.”

Are you still awake?  Do you have that?  In November 2012, this US government research center says that it is still accepted that the best model for delayed effect risk associated with ionizing radiation is a linear, non-threshold model, meaning that the risk is only zero if there is zero dose of exposure and that it increases linearly with increasing dose.  So, the greater the exposure the greater the risks.  Pretty basic common sense.  We continue to underline this point because there is stuff out on the internet claiming otherwise, which is why we are doing these pages of quotations from a serious research center.

p. 45:  “The Dosimetry System 2002 (DS02) is the latest dose reconstruction from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki weapon incidents. A large cohort of radiation survivors have been followed since 1945. Statistically significant evidence is noted for radiation-induced leukemia of all varieties except chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). In addition, radiation-induced carcinoma has been reported for the breast, thyroid, colon, stomach, lung, and ovary. Borderline or inconsistent results are noted for radiation-induced carcinoma of the esophagus, liver, skin, bladder, CNS system, multiple myeloma and lymphoma.”  Once again, on internet you will find other claims.
Elsewhere we have read that younger survivors who have not gotten cancer, may still get cancer.  Whether they will or will not is unknown until they die.
p. 45:  “Cancer Risk:  Medical personnel at all levels of care need to be knowledgeable about the worry and psychological distress that patients experience regarding delayed effects of radiation exposure. Using the current statistics available from the American Cancer Society (US Mortality, 2006 http://www.cancer.org/docroot/stt/stt_0.asp?from=fast, 2009 presentation), we can estimate the number of cancer deaths in a population. The Society says that in 2006 cancer was the cause of 23.1% of all deaths./  Let’s assume a population of ten million people. Using the numbers above, 2.31 million people would be expected to die because of cancer. According to NCRP Report No. 115 (1993) the lifetime excess risk of fatal cancer is 4% per Sv (0.04% per rem) for a worker population and 5% per Sv (0.05% per rem) for the general population. In other words, if this same population received an excess total dose of 10 rem (0.1 Sv) over their life spans there would be (10,000,000 people)(0.0005 deaths per person per rem)(10 rem) = about 50,000 excess deaths, or about 0.5% at 10 rem (or 5% at 100 rem/1Sv).
The American Cancer Society says that one out of every two men will be diagnosed with cancer; one out of three women will be. This equates to about 42% of the population being diagnosed with cancer within their lifetimes. BEIR VII estimates that that 43 out of every 100 people in the US will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. It additionally estimates that approximately one cancer per 100 people (~1%) could result from a single exposure to 10 rem (0.1 Sv) above background, implying that the radiation-induced cancer rate is about 10% per Sv.
The reader should note that risk estimates among various Federal agencies, advisory groups, and international committees vary a bit (BEIR V and VII, IAEA, NCRP, EPA, UNSCEAR, etc.), but all are generally in the ranges  discussed above.”/
p.46:  “Resources that may be helpful in medical consultation with irradiated patients include: • The Health Physics Society website: Ask the Experts (http://hps.org/publicinformation/asktheexperts.cfm) • BEIR V, VII and UNSCEAR 1988, 2000 reports • Various reports of the NCRP and ICRP such as NCRP 115 and ICRP 60 and 103 • The American Cancer Society website (http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp)/
Non-Cancer Effects Radiation:  also causes late effects other than cancer. These include cataracts, hyperparathyroidism, and a decrease in both T-cell mediated immunity and in the B-cell humoral response. Survivors of in utero exposure have also experienced infant microcephaly, mental retardation, growth and development delay, and lower IQ and poor school performance./
Radiation-induced cataracts are well documented, most notably present as posterior subcapsular cataracts. Senile or age-related cataracts are nuclear in position. Neutrons are particularly effective in causing cataract formation. The threshold dose for cataract formation is approximately 0.5 Gy (greater with fractionated doses). At 40 Gy dose to the eye, approximately 100% will form cataracts. The latency period ranges from 2 months to 35 years. In general, with increased dose to the eye, the latency period decreases.
Radiation and Pregnancy Pregnant women are almost always worried about possible fetal effects from radiation exposure. The gestational age of a fetus is calculated from the beginning of the last menstrual (LMP) and averages 280 days, divided into three trimesters. During the first two weeks following ovulation, successive biological events include fertilization, formation of the free blastocyst, transit down the fallopian tube and implantation. No statistically significant effects have been noted for medically significant irradiation before conception./ If irradiation occurs during transit of the blastocyst down the fallopian tube, an “all or none” effect is generally noted. If implantation is successful, the pregnancy generally has a successful outcome. During the first trimester period of organogenesis, the embryo is sensitive to growth-retarding effects because of the criticality of cellular activities and the high proportion of radiosensitive cells./ For uterine doses > 0.5 Gy, growth retardation, gross congenital malformations, and microcephaly have been the predominant effects. Interestingly, there has been no (p.47) report of external irradiation inducing morphologic malformation in a fetus unless it also exhibits growth retardation or a CNS anomaly.  The highest risk of mental retardation is irradiation of the fetus during the period of major neuronal migration (8-15 weeks) and the incidence is dose dependent. At 1 Gy fetal dose, approximately 75% will experience mental retardation. Conversely, at 16-25 weeks gestation, the fetus shows no increase in mental retardation at fetal doses <0.5 Gy.
Exposure to high levels of radiation is clearly a risk factor for childhood leukemia. Japanese adult atomic bomb survivors had a 20-fold increased risk of developing acute leukemia (except CLL) usually within 6-8 years after exposure. Studies on in utero exposure and childhood exposure to low levels of radiation show mixed results.”

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

For those who would like a more visual discussion of DNA Mutations, here is a 5 min, 27 sec video.  The details start at around 2 minutes and the discussion of radiation at about 3 and a half minutes so keep watching.

Uranium is hundreds of times more dangerous, than the model used by the Internaional Commission on Radiological Protection shows, according to the European Committe on Radiation Risk.  See “2010 Recommendations by the European Committe on Radiation Risk, The Health Effects of Exposure to Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation, Regulators’ Edition”, Chris Busby, ed., http://www.euradcom.org/2011/ecrr2010.pdf


The Navajos call uranium Leetzo, the Yellow Monster.  Their experience with the stuff has been horrifying.  Let them tell you in their own words in this 3 minute trailer for The Yellow Monster film.

Leetzo:  es un monstro grande y pisa fuerte, is a big monster that stomps on the poor innocent people.  If there is uranium mining, does anyone really think that the Quechua of Peru will fare better than the Navajos and other Native Americans?  Will we remain indifferent?  Will dry death find us before we have done enough? Will we remain indifferent to injustice?  Will we remain indifferent to the future by allowing uranium mining to go forward?  Hopeless is he who is forced to go live in a different culture.  Will the Quechua be forced to choose between their culture and their health and lives?  http://lyricstranslate.com/en/Solo-le-pido-Dos-I-only-ask-God.html

Dr. Gordon Edwards, Ph.D. of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, on their excellent website, explains to us, in detail, the impacts of uranium mining:  Besides killing uranium miners and those living in contaminated homes (built with uranium mine tailings or otherwise contaminated), every uranium mine spreads “deadly radioactive poisons over vast areas of the earth, as surely as the Chernobyl disaster did, as surely as atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons have done, but at an insidiously slower rate.  Radon gas can travel a thousand miles in just a few days, with a light breeze.  As it travels low to the ground (it is much heavier than air) it deposits its ‘daughters’ — solid radioactive fallout — on the vegetation, soil and water below; the resulting radioactive materials enter the food chain, ending up in fruits and berries, the flesh of fish and animals, and ultimately, in the bodies of human beings.”  He says that in 1986 the US already had 220 milllion tons of uranium tailings, which were explained on the front page of the Wall Street Journal (25/2/1986) to be “an ecological and financial time bomb”.   No one has come up with a way to properly deal with them. http://www.ccnr.org/uranium_deadliest.html
As we will see, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and most other places, there seem to have been no real attempts at remediation of abandoned uranium mines.  Any attempts at addressing them seriously would be very costly.  Generally the companies declare bankruptcy leaving the taxpayer responsible.  Dr. Edwards continues:  The mine wastes or tailings “will remain dangerously radioactive for millions of years. Thorium- 230, itself a by-product of uranium, is an alpha-emitter with a half-life of almost 80,000 years. It continually replenishes all the other radioactive by-products of uranium in the abandoned tailings piles. Radium-226, a bone-seeking alpha-emitting carcinogen which is at least 20 times as harmful as strontium-90, is blown in the wind, washed by the rain, and leached into the waterways from the tailings piles, where it re-concentrates by factors of thousands in aquatic plants and by factors of hundreds in land plants. It has a half-life of 1,600 years.”  He notes that “When the levels of radium increased in Canadian rivers as a result of uranium mining activities, the nuclear establishment obligingly increased the standard for an ‘acceptable level’ of radium in drinking water by a factor of nine.”  Meanwhile, the “B.C. Medical Association refers to radium as a ‘superb carcinogen.’  It is known to have killed many of the women who patriotically painted radium on the dials of military instruments during World War II so that the readings would glow in the darkness of a cockpit or battlefield.”http://www.ccnr.org/uranium_deadliest.html

Additionally, “the radon gas emissions from abandoned tailings can cause radioactive contamination on a continental and even on a global basis. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has estimated that radon emissions from uranium tailings in the Southwest U.S. can be expected to cause over 3,000 cancer deaths per century over the North American continent. Many researchers believe that this death toll is underestimated by at least a factor of ten, even if we ignore the fallout of solid radon daughters on leafy vegetation as the radon gas passes overhead, and even if we assume that the tailings are not blown by the wind, washed by the rain, or spread through the food chain, thereby distributing the source of contamination over a much wider area.” http://www.ccnr.org/uranium_deadliest.html


This Poison Wind movie trailer (6 min, 46 sec) gives more first
hand testimony about the impacts of uranium mining on the miners themselves and non-miners.  The focus is the Navajo and Pueblo Peoples.

This link discusses the Jackpile Mine mentioned in the movie, which at one time was the largest open pit uranium in the world, as well as other issues.  http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/resources/uranium/legacy.html

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lest we think that Native Americans, First Nations Canada or Australian Indigenous peoples have the monopoly on suffering from (former) uranium mines, we need to look at France, Germany and the Czech Republic.  In France there are 210 former uranium mines. http://sante.lefigaro.fr/actualite/2009/02/10/9423-france-repertorie-ses-anciennes-mines-duranium According to the French CRIIRAD researcher, Bruno Chareyron, in all of the former French uranium mines surveyed, they found situations of environmental contamination and a lack of proper protection of the inhabitants from ionizing radiation and its health impacts.  Bruno Chareyron’s observations about the risks and aftermath of uranium mining are similar to those of Dr. Gordon Edwards.  He explains that while the ore remains underground, radiation at surface remains low and that the situation changes once uranium extraction begins.  Dust is sent into the atmosphere, and some of the nuclides contained in uranium decay chains are highly radiotoxic upon inhalation.  Water, both surface and/or ground water is contaminated by uranium and its byproducts.  He notes that “Accumulation of radioactive metals in sediments and plants of rivers, ponds, and lakes by contaminated waters from former mines (and also tailing deposits, uncovered waste rock deposits, etc.) is a problem that is not yet properly addressed by the companies.”   He worries, as do we, that “If such a situation occurs in a so-called ‘developed country” (i.e. France) then ” one should fear what could actually happen in other parts of the world. The preliminary mission made by CRIIRAD to Niger confirmed this fear.” See “Radiological hazards from uranium mining by Bruno Chareyron: http://www.criirad.org/actualites/uraniumfrance/Synthese_PDF/anglais.pdf
After WWII, the USSR started exploration and mining of uranium in the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge, Krušné hory) along the border of Saxony and the Czech Republic.  This area became the third largest uranium mining area of the world, after the US and Canada.  The company, Wismut, was the most important uranium mining company in E. Germany, as well as the entire USSR, producing 230,400 tonnes of uranium between 1947 and 1990. In 1991, it became Wismut GmbH owned by the German State.  It has been attempting reclamation of the mined areas in Saxony and Thuringia for 20 years.  See:  Diel, Peter. “Uranium Mining in Eastern Germany: The WISMUT Legacy” http://www.wise-uranium.org/uwis.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wismut_(mining_company)
Wismut Company Experience in attempting Reclamation over 20 years http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/ST/NE/NEFW/documents/RawMaterials/CD_TM_Swakopmund%20200710/17%20 Uranium Mining in the Czech Republic http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/05/business/global/05uranium.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0


DECLARATION OF BASEL: Summary statement presented at the conclusion of the conference “Sacred Lands, Poisoned Peoples – Indigenous Peoples, Health and Uranium Mining”, Preliminary Conference to the IPPNW-World Conference, Basel, Switzerland, August 26, 2010

Preamble: Those assembled are unanimous in the judgment that uranium mining and milling in the production of yellow-cake (uranium oxide) imperils the environment and all living creatures, is a violation of human rights, and in its consequence undermines nuclear disarmament and deters world peace. The gathered equally recognize that a technology that produces energy reliant on the mining of uranium ore and each step of the nuclear fuel chain thereafter, must be fundamentally abjured as a toxic hazard to life to-day and to the coming generations.  Further, the assembled realize that the deadly dangers radiating from each case study here presented will be challenged, clouded, denied and obfuscated by those in positions of public authority.

Declaration: The gathered – the majority of whom are representatives from indigenous nations scattered across five  continents – reaffirm the Declaration of Salzburg, which was drafted at the conclusion of the World Uranium Hearing in September, 1992, and adopted in August, 1994, from the UNO Human Rights Commission in Geneva with the number E/CN.4/Sub.2/AC.4/1994/7, 6 June 1994 as an UN-document. Owing to the creep of  radioactive contamination around the planet, the gathered additionally wish to warn of the following  developments in the nuclear industry which have taken place since 1992:

1. In situ leach mining is presented as a non-invasive superior process of mining uranium that leaves the surface of the land untouched. With this method the uranium is extracted chemically from the ore body in the earth and pumped to the surface, whereby the chemical solutions  remain in the earth.  In situ leach mining permanently endangers the ground water table.

2. The tailings resulting from conventional uranium mining contaminate large sweeps of land, endangering all life in the region; no continent escapes this toxic burden.  The renaturation of the land once mines are closed must be the responsibility of the uranium mining concerns; such renaturation must be accomplished with  state-of-the-art technology.

3. Boundaries are by nature superficial and cannot halt the spread of radioactivity. Yet uranium mining licenses are granted allowing uranium mining to be conducted at the edges of indigenous territories and Indian  reservations. Radioactivity heeds no land lease or title.

4. Commons are the natural resources of the earth for which everyone must share custodial responsibility, first and foremost our air, our water, our earth.  Indigenous peoples urge a radical shift in ecological thinking whenever and wherever they meet with representatives of industrial nations. The mining of uranium, the use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions, and the storage of radioactive wastes permanently endanger the purity of the commons.

5. Sacred Sites/Sacred Lands.  When nothing more is treated as holy, than everything is at risk. In the absence of the sacred, nothing can hinder the destruction of the commons. The spiritual bond with the earth and the recognition of all living creatures fundamental rights is a guiding precept of the Indigenous worldview. The protection of the sacred sites of indigenous cultures cannot be solved by any measure of law; the decision makers of industrial nations are called upon to understand the ethical concept of indigenous peoples as a basic principle for achieving a sustainable economy and as an environmental guarantee for a livable future.

6. Follow-up costs of uranium production include the renaturation of the mining region, the compensation of all victims, and the payment of all health expenses for those consequentially at risk now, as well as the coming generations so long as need arises.

7. Protection of workers: the resistance against uranium mining cannot ignore the issues of those people for whom uranium mining and milling represent the sole economic means of survival.  Their protection at the workplace, the recognition of their work-related infirmities, and their medical care, must be demanded with the same insistence and pressure as the campaign to prohibit new uranium mining.

8. Advertising campaigns, funded by the nuclear industry, are meant to convince populations to accept nuclear power. Here it is essential that people at every level receive clarification, and that such disinformation is corrected. Nuclear power is neither “green energy“ nor “climate friendly.”  Any story of sustainable uranium mining is an impossible fiction.  Only by ignoring the protection of its employees and by evading all follow-up costs can the nuclear industry pretend nuclear energy is superior.

Addenda: Although this assembly focuses exclusively on the extraction of uranium ore from the earth, those gathered wish to additionally draw attention to two important aspects as regards nuclear weapons:
1. Depleted uranium (DU), a plentiful waste by-product of the uranium enrichment process used to fuel nuclear power plants, is used to densify ammo casings, turning ordinary shells into de facto dirty bombs. The radio-active, toxic nano-dust set free contaminates entire regions for generations after the hostilities are ceased.
2. Spread of nuclear technology and consequent proliferation of nuclear arms: the old order of the classic ato-mic powers can spring apart at any moment.  The civil and military uses of the atom are closely twined.  More nuclear states or powers means more demand for uranium.

Conclusion: The Declaration of Salzburg ends with the appeal: “Uranium and other radioactive minerals must remain in their natural location.”  At the Indigenous World Uranium Summit, 2006, in Window Rock, Arizona – on the land of the Diné Nation – the assembled made the demand in their conclusionary statement that all uses of uranium must be prohibited. Those assembled in Basel, supported by their home communities in their homelands, reaffirm both declarations, and summarily demand: URANIUM AND ALL RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES MUST REMAIN IN THEIR NATURAL LOCATION. http://www.ippnw.org/pdf/uranium-the-death-that-creeps-from-the-earth.pdf http://www.ippnw2010.org/index.php?id=79

Friday, 26 April 2013

Yesterday, we failed to mention, Oktyabrskoye village (Krasnokamensk mine), located in eastern Siberia, 60 km from the Chinese border, built around 1964, in conjunction with the first uranium mine within Russia.  In 2006, Oktyabrskoye remained poisoned by uranium dust and radioactive gases.  Mountains of discarded uranium ore still lay uncovered, and just over the hill, a vast open pit marked the site of Russia’s first uranium mine.  After an environmental study in the 1990s, 240 families were resettled to nearby Krasnokamensk, but 680 families remained as of 2006. (See Belton, Catherine, New York Times, Jan. 12, 2006). http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/12/world/europe/12iht-uranium.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 The French call these mines what they are:  old or former mines. In the US there seems a tendency to call these old uranium mines “legacy” mines.  This is irksome.  Legacy is generally an inheritance and a good thing.  These are not a good thing, a gift in the English sense of the word, but rather a gift in the German sense of poison.


In March of this year, First Nations (Native Canadians) and Quebecois called for a moratorium on uranium mining due to the significant health and environmental risks.  The Cree Nation of Mistissini’s Council Chief Richard Shecapio stated that “As protectors of the largest fresh water lake in Quebec, Lake Mistassini, we strongly oppose any uranium development.  It goes against our way of life and our beliefs … waste from this type of mine stays radioactive for thousands of years, and that is socially unacceptable.  We are all here today to say out loud that uranium should not be mined in Quebec”.  British Columbia and Nova Scotia already have moratoriums, as does the US State of Virginia (something which the nuclear industry is still trying to undermine).  Over 300 Quebec municipalities have recently passed resolutions against uranium mining. http://www.quebecsansuranium.org/
Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) called upon more First Nations and Quebec municipalities to pass resolutions against uranium mining.  Those who are on their toes will recognize the Mistassini uranium exploration project, as one of Majescor’s three projects, along with SOMINE in Haiti, and the Besakoa gold and base metal property in Madagascar.  Mistassini is a 40% Majescor and 60% Strateco Resources, joint venture.  Mistassini is located in the Otish Mountains, approximately 40 km southwest of Strateco’s Matoush, which is discussed like it is more advanced.  Quebec’s provincial government, promised an independent inquiry on uranium mining in Quebec. A recent survey showed 62% of Quebecois in favor of a moratorium on uranium mining.  Although pleased with the temporary moratorium, Chief Richard Shecapio said that Quebec’s environmental review process does not recognize Cree rights as set out in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement of 1975.  He wants to make sure that Cree rights are integrated into the consulation process. http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1127375/uranium-mines-in-quebec-first-nations-municipalities-and-citizens-unite-their-voices-for-a-moratorium http://www.mining. com/first-nations-and-quebecers-call-for-moratorium-on-uranium-mines-74012/ (with maps) http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2013/04/02/north-quebec-cree-uranium-moratorium.html see also: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/915419/strateco-uranium-project-mistissini-demands-a-pause-and-thinks-of-a-moratorium

On April 23, Strateco had the gall to file suit against the Province of Quebec, because boo-hoo-hoo, their stock dropped from 7.5 cents to 4.5 cents, on April 1.  They are complaining because their shares went down 62.5% after news of the Quebec’s temporary moratorium (Strateco shares have rebounded to seven cents already).  Quebec’s minister of sustainable development, environment, wildlife and parks,  Yves-Francois Blanchet, has said that there will be a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of uranium pending studies by the provincial environmental assessment agency (Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement du Québec, BAPE).  These will include public hearings.  Consulting those impacted in a democracy?  What a radical revolutionary concept!  Why didn’t the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) do public consultation before they granted Strateco a licence for advanced exploration activities in October 2012?  Strateco should sue Canada and not Quebec.  Hopefully Quebec will sue Canada for the money if Strateco wins.  The final Quebec environmental assessment and recommendations will be presented in 2014.  62.5% drop in share value sounds huge but Strateco’s shares dropped from a piddling seven and a half cents to four and a half cents.  Big deal.  Majescor has been worth only a few cents since they last split their stock, issuing more stock and effectively devaluing it.  This legal action makes it seem that Strateco is convinced that their uranium mining projects cannot pass an independent environmental impact study.  It looks to us like an attempt for Strateco to recapitalize themselves on the back of the Quebec taxpayer.  Will Majescor sue too? Strateco is trying to fleece Quebec out of $16 million CA ($15.6 US).  Strateco claims that this money is to maintain its facilities and other costs of keeping the project viable and wants to force Quebec to pay it a monthly fee.  http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/strateco-stock-plummets-heavy-trading-follows-quebec-move-174004457.html http://www. world-nuclear-news.org/ENF-Uranium_company_fights_Quebec_ban-2304137.html

Saturday, 27 April 2013


The Macusani-Corani region of Puno is a huge rock painting, in the midst of a “rock forest”.  It is said that the rock forests were an army of giant warriors petrified in the first battle between men and gods.  A five university project, directed by archaeologist Patricia Vega Centeno, has found almost 200 rock art sites in Corani and Macusani, dating from 8000 BC in an area of ​​72,530 ha (compare to 90,000 ha of the proposed mines).  The paintings testify to the importance of Alpacas and their ancestors in the area and for the people of the area.

In early April, the Regional Councilman for the Province of Carabaya, where the proposed uranium mines and artwork lie, expressed concern since 90 percent of the territory of Corani is under permit for uranium exploration.  In this sense, he said that he empathizes with the feelings and concerns of the inhabitants.  The inhabitants have been having trouble finding out information.  The President of Central Única Regional de Rondas Campesinas (Peasants Association), Fidel Lope, warned of the unfortunate consequences for those who decide to explore without consulting the population and without the required environmental impact studies.

The oldest Macusani-Corani paintings are Preceramic, 8000-2000 BC with hunting scenes of Alpaca “camelid” ancestors.  Then are paintings of Alpacas ancestors belonging to the pre-Incan Kaluyo culture of 2000-500 BC, when ceramics appeared, along with agriculture and animal domestication. There are paintings of the Colla culture of 1000-1400 BC.  Then there Inca geometric paintings of orange, mustard, black, white and red.  There are also rock engravings known as petroglyphs. In 1905 the Swedish Nordenskiöld first reported the rock art, which was studied again in the 1990s and more recently (2000s) by Corani Roberto Ramos and by Austrian Hostnig Reiner and in 2005 was declared National Cultural Heritage by the National Institute of Culture by RDN No. 2658/INC-2005.  It also has World Monument Fund-Watch recognition (2008), as an endangered site.  The team led by Patricia Vega of the Centeno Andean Culture Association, covered a large area and made new discoveries, as well as gathering additional information.  It is classified as endangered since concessions for exploration and exploitation of uranium, have endangered the volcanic stone outcrops and caves that house the first artistic expressions in the region and in Peru.  Without help this unique landscape considered unique in the world is about to disappear.  (References-Additional Info at very end)
For pictures see:  http://rupestreweb2.tripod.com/macusani.html

The Rock Art from 8,000 BC to Colonial Times documents the importance of the Alpaca and its ancestors to the people of the Macusani-Corani Area for over 10,000 years.  But, this culture of interdependence is still alive.  This video shows part of what will be lost.  Although this is east of the uranium mining concessions it will be poisoned by radioactive dust and water contamination.
Carabaya Land of Alpacas

Sunday, 28 April 2013


Yesterday, we saw a video of how things are, and below are pictures of what may be, if the open pit uranium mining is not stopped.
image (7)image (5)image (6)

These are pictures of abandoned open pit uranium mining sites in the South Dakota Black Hills, of which there are over 3,000.  No efforts have been made for cleanup.  On the contrary, there are attempts to force more uranium mining upon the people by Canadian Powertech Corporation.  Some uranium exploration holes remain uncovered in the Black Hills allegedly big enough for a person (or alpaca?) to fall into. http://www.defendblackhills.org/

Only now are efforts being made to clean up Navajo land from uranium mining, and it is woefully underfunded.  They have over 1,000 underground uranium mining sites. $500 million for cleanup of Navajo lands were requested, meanwhile, only $110 million were granted.  Compare this to the total economic assistance given by the US to foreign countries in 2011 of $31.7 billion.

Even if the uranium mining is stopped in Peru, the exploration itself can have impacts.  Normally one would think of risks of contamination, especially of aquifers, due to exploratory drilling, but in July 2011, it was reported that uranium exploration activities, by Macusani Yellowcake’s predecessors Solex and Global caused shortages of water in the town of Tantamaco in the district of Corani.  Exploration for uranium started about 2006 but around the end of 2010, beginning of 2011, water shortages began.  The activities of these companies involve the diversion of water from the reservoir, leaving the townspeople without water.  This is said to impact an average of 300 to 400 families, in the town of Tantamaco, which have this reservoir as their sole source of water.  The residents stated that whereas before they had water everyday, all day, now they have only a few hours of water.  They reportedly did not want to be identified for fear of suffering persecution or threats against their lives.  Tantamaco is located 15 minutes from Isivilla.  There is no special law for uranium mining in Peru, rather it is handled under the general mining law.  This appears to mean that no special precautions would be required during the exploration or exploitation process.

In June, 2011, Macusani joined the general strike against mining in the region and against a proposed hydroelectric project.  However, this did not stop Macusani Yellowcake from continuing its exploration in July, 2011.  Hernan Vilca, Rondero leader, said that Macusani is known as the Alpaquera Capital in the region, as well as being an agricultural area. Therefore they called for the definitive cancellation of mining concessions.  The Ronderos, Rondas Campesinas, are recognized by Law No. 27908 as a democratic community organization that can, among other things, dialogue with the State and, assist in conflict resolution.  Corani district appears the most impacted by the uranium exploration.  Human Rights activist Cesar Quispe Calsin, warned that 75% of the population would be affected by the concessions.  On the second day of the indefinite, general strike, against mining concessions, which was adhered to by the inhabitants of Macusani-Carabaya, a clandestine uranium storage facility caught fire.  Two thousand people are said to have burned the warehouse in the heart of Macusani, in which uranium samples were found.

The 22 September 2011, 250 Ronderos were to gather to ask Macusani Yellowcake to stop exploration work.  Due to the high level of pollution, which the exploration causes to water and pastures, the ronderos of the five communities that belong to the district (of Corani), determined that exploration must stop.

We have been unable to find out what has transpired since this time,
except the warning, earlier this month, by The President of Central Única Regional de Rondas Campesinas, Fidel Lope, of unfortunate consequences for those who decide to explore without consulting the population and without the required environmental impact studies (presumably meaning that they waste their time and money). Nor do we know why, over a year and a half after the Ronderos seem to have asked them to leave, Macusani Yellowcake is still there.

However, the Ronderos for the entire Region of Puno are meeting today, April 28th and Monday, April 29th in Macusani!
Participants are expected to include representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Regional Government, Superior Court of Justice Puno, Public Ministry, National Police Ombudsman, Congressmen, and topics to be discussed include the current situation of mining in Puno, mining concessions, as well as community justice.

Surely some answers will come out of this meeting.  Unfortunately we doubt that there will be news posted from this meeting before Wednesday or Thursday, however. See map and references below.

30 April 2013


Creative Commons Edubucher
Quelccaya Ice Cap by Edubucher, Creative Commons.
Map 1 of Macusani Mining Area v2
Overlay Ice YellowcakeQuelccaya Ice Cap 2010

The Quelccaya icecap, the largest tropical icecap in the world is totally surrounded by Open Pit Uranium Mining Concessions (mostly Macusani Yellowcake). Quelccaya lies to the west of Macusani and Corani.  On April 4, 2013, it was called a “Rosetta Stone” by Dr. Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State U, who, with his wife, Ellen, has spent decades studying it.  Ice cores from the Quelccaya Ice Cap, provide a year by year, “Rosetta Stone” key, over an almost 1,800 year period, with which to compare other climate histories from the world’s tropical and subtropical regions.  This allows researchers to better understand both historical and today’s climate changes.  http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/icerosetta.htm

What difference does surrounding Quelccaya icecap with uranium mining make?  Much!  Most obvious is that open pit uranium mining would make it inaccessible and/or unsafe for those who would want to visit as tourists or for research.  Less obvious is the impact that it will have on speeding up the melting of this icecap and its component glaciers.  How can this be so?  It’s got to do with reflectivity, called “albedo”.  Albedo for fresh snow is about 0.9 and for charcoal, about 0.04, with deep shadowed cavities approaching zero.  The presence of mining dust can lower glacier surface reflectivity (albedo) significantly, with an increase in melting (ablation).  Additionally, the fine dust can be moved by surface meltwater and reduce albedo on nearby cleaner ice surfaces.  The total impact of the fine dust on melting of the glacier surface would be higher because this redistribution changes the surface morphology.
See:  http://iahs.info/redbooks/a264/iahs_264_0043.pdf
The predominant trade winds for this area would be east to west, meaning that dust from most of the mining will fall upon the icecap, and perhaps into nearby Lake Sibinacocha (and other smaller lakes), which lies to the west.  In El Nino years when the wind flips directions then dust from the prospects between Quelccaya and Macusani will fall upon the inhabitants of Corani and Macusani and anything to the east.

Uranium dust has a special characteristic, which no one speaks of, besides radioactivity, and that is its pyrophoric nature.  The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a notice dealing with the pyrophoricity in the context of transportation in May 1980:  “From time to time NRC has received reports of transportation incidents involving shipment of uranium in a pyrophoric form (capable of sponataneous ignition).  These forms generally include finely divided metallic saw turnings and chips, sawdust, and abrasive saw sludge.  Moisture…is usually present on the finely divided material, contributing to its reactivity…Although the exact reaction kinetics of finely divided pyrophoric metals is not well understood, past industry experience has indicated that extreme care must be exercised in the proper storage and transportation of such pyrophoric forms of uranium so as to preclude spontaneous ignition. /Fires resulting are extremely difficult to extinguish using such conventional fire extinguishing agents as CO2, foam, and dry chemical.  Water, if used in very large volumes or by total immersion can be effective.  Water used as a fine spray, however, can be extremely dangerous, actually causing a more violent reaction due to the radiolytic breakdown of the water from the extremely high temperatures.  Further, such fires also create an inhalation hazard due to the disperson of airborne uranium as particulate matter.”  http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/gen-comm/info-notices/1980/in80025.html
Although the spontaneous combustion risk of uranium mining dust might be less at high altitudes, landing on the damp ice and snow would seemingly enhance the risk.  It also would seem any burning dust would melt the icecap even faster than regular dust.  Another governmental document discusses the risk of disposal of uranium mining wastes due to its potential flammability.
Below is a video showing the non-spontaneous combustion of uranium when stroked over a metal file

Does it matter if this glacier melts or melts faster?
Yes, both for the communities and for the world.  Firstly for the world, icecaps reflect heat back away from earth, so without them more heat will stay on earth.  They reflect about 80% of the heat back into space.  For all of those who think about going to sit on top of a glacier on a hot sunny day, the cooling effect should come as no surprise.  According to the USGS, they have a very direct effect on the water cycle and on weather patterns.  Icecaps, glaciers, and permanent snow account for about 69.7% of fresh water in the world.  They are of critical importance in providing water supply for the villages below them.  Without them the streams will dry up and there will be no water in the drier parts of the year.  The mining itself also uses up water.  Accelerating melting means that the water will run out more quickly.  As well, the melting water will take the radioactive and other contaminants (e.g. lead) more quickly down the mountain, into the streams (and aquifers) of the villages and ultimately into the Amazon.  According to Thompson (2007), as the Qori Kalis glacier (of Quelccaya ice cap) “retreated, a massively deep lake formed at its margin, high up a valley it has been contained by a natural dam.”  In March of 2006, “a massive chunk of the glacier broke off, tumbled downhill and splashed into that lake, sending a wall of water over the dam and cascading down into the valley.” http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/qorigone.htm
If the dam gives way totally, it could be catastrophic.

Accelerating melting means an acceleration of these processes and the increased risk of catastrophic failure of either a natural dam or of part of the mountain slope, which can send water and/or debris downhill washing away everything in its path.  Open pit mining around the base of the mountain and of the edges of the glacier itself will increase slope instability and can, in and of itself, cause catastrophic slope failure, i.e. a major avalanche which can send water, ice and rocks hurling and destroying all in its path.  The dynamite used could set this off, and even the constant movement of heavy mining trucks can do so.  The removal of vegetation increases the risk of slope failure because the vegetation helps to absorb excess water and release it gradually, the roots help hold the soil together and vegetation can provide natural barriers to landslides.  There have been many historic instances of this, including the April 29, 1903, Frank Slide in Alberta Canada (110 years and one day ago).  In this case the mountain was unstable due to mining and freezing water in cracks expanded initiating the slide.  The landslide roared down a valley, through town and up the other side of the valley, killing 66 people.  Another mining related disaster was the 1680 landslide of Plurs (then Switzerland and now Italy), which killed between 1,000 and 2,500 people.  It was caused by weakening of the lower parts of the mountain by careless mining and water infiltration.  An estimated 1,000 people were killed in a gigantic landslide that destroyed the Peruvian mining village of Chungar after a mountain lake burst its banks, in March 1971. In April of 1974, 750 people were presumed dead after similar landslides wiped out two more villages high in the Andes.  In January of 1962 the edge of a giant glacier on the slopes of an extinct volcano broke apart and hurled down the mountain.  The ice bloc weighed about 6 million tons and traveled 9 1/2 miles in 7 minutes.  It destroyed 9 towns and 7 small villages.  4,000 people and 10,000 farm animals were killed and crops destroyed.  Two towns were completely buried under 40 ft. of ice, mud, trees, boulders and other deris.  These are but a few examples.  They are not infrequent.

This is, of course, a seismic zone which means that either tailings dams or natural dams formed by melting glaciers could fail due to an earthquake, inducing landslides and washing radioactive and other waste everywhere.  Additionally this whole mining area is a caldera of a dormant or extinct volcano (unfortunately we cannot find its name).  Although you can read in wikipedia that there are no active volcanoes in South American between latitudes 3 south and 15 south, this is false.  The northernmost volcano which we have found classified as active, in Peru, is the Quimsachata volcano, which is at about latitude 14 south.  Quimsachata volcano is much closer to the Quelccaya-Corani-Macusani area (about 50km; 31 miles away), than Quimsachata volcano is to the next closest active volcano (about 90 miles; 145 km away).  Researchers believe that the melting of ice caps and glaciers may activate dormant volcanoes.  This has to do, in part, with the pressure which the ice exerts on the volcano.  For details see: http://pages.uoregon.edu/bindeman/GeyerBindeman.pdf
Obviously, this is only a potential problem if the volcano is only dormant and not extinct – something which is not always easy to ascertain.

In addition to uranium mining, there is Bear Creek Mining, which claims to be a silver, lead and zinc concession.  This is bad enough but, it seems obvious that if all of the neighboring concessions have uranium, that the Bear Creek concessions would have at least some.
The fact that there are no special distinctions between uranium and other mining in Peru makes their mining for uranium more probable.
Bearcreek’s CEO, Andrew Swarthout, used to be Exploration Manager for Kennecott Mexico.  Kennecott was accused ca 1999 of illegally mining uranium in Mexico.  It is not clear if he was there when this happened, however.

Wednesday, May Day 2013


In the context of their December 2011, Corani Project NI 43-101 Technical Report, available on their web site, Bear Creek Mining Corporation, summarized prior studies of threatened and endangered species as part of their biological baseline study(p. 194). These are relevant for Bear Creek, Macusani Yellowcake and others.

These include mammals, which appear constantly in the Endangered Rock Art:  Deer, Puma, and Vicuña (shares common ancestor with Alpaca). (In our discussion we focused only on the pictures of Alpacas and their ancestors in keeping with the theme of this post.)  So, not only are the ancient pictures of them endangered by the exploration and proposed mining, but the real animals are currently threatened due to the proposed mining.  According to Bear Creek Mining, animals found on site are included in National and/or International Threatened Species lists.  Specifically, those listed are the North Andean deer or Taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis); the Puma (Puma concolor), Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) and the Pampus cat (Leopardus colocolo).  There are around 12,000 to 17,000 North Andean deer left, of which 10,000 are mature.  The majority, 8,000 of the 10,000 are in Peru. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taruca. The Puma, mountain lion, is presumably the Peruvian Puma or Puma concolor incarum (the Inca Puma!) http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puma_concolor http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puma_concolor_concolor
Both under the Incas and today, Vicuñas have been protected by law. Peru has most of them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicuña
Leopardus colocolo is now considered Colocolo separate from the Pampus cat. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colocolo

Wild Alpaca Cousin: This Peruvian Vicuña looks hungry enough and cannot afford loss of pasture to open pit mining! Neither can Alpacas.
Buisse-Wolfman, Creative Commons via Wikimedia

As well, the site includes a number of plants (flora), which are said to be on the National Threatened Species list (presumably of Peru and not Canada), but which they say are not on international conservation lists.  These include Umbellifer, some Daisy species and Valerina Nivalis.  There are also three vegetation species found on site, which occur only in Peru (endemic), of which the Nototriche pelicea occurs only in the Department of Puno, where the mining sites are found.

Thursday, 2 May 2013


Although Bear Creek Mining alleges to be silver, lead, and zinc “only”, we believe that since it is a proposed open pit mine of about 50km2, surrounded by about 900 km2 of proposed open pit uranium mining, that surely uranium will be at least a by-product.  We have already discussed lead toxicity. Additionally, many of the considerations are the same, and Bear Creek appears more well-advanced in their permitting process (something we must discuss another day).  The information that we have dates from their Technical Report, in December 2011.  We do not know what was presented in the Quechua language during the April 2013 public hearings.

In the Technical Report, Bear Creek Mining lists what they consider chief environmental risks associated with this type of project.  They qualify the first three as “potential”.  However, in reality, they are pretty certain:  1) impacts to air quality from dust;  2) degradation of surface and groundwater quality (for some unfathomable reason English uses the term groundwater for underground water); 3) changes to the amount of surface and groundwater.  In theory, number 2 would be “potential”.  However, in practice, degradation of surface and groundwater quality generally (perhaps always) occurs.  They also add as chief risks: 4) visual impacts caused by the creation of pits, mine waste disposal facilities, roads, and other mine workings (in other words, this mining is UGLY); 5) permanent changes to land use resulting from mining activities.

They provide a summary of baseline studies for existing air and water quality, and noise.  They note that air quality results were below the maximum permissible limits set by the national environmental standard for air.  As they observe, this reflects the absence of activities in the area which produce significant pollution.  In other words there is clean, pure, mountain air, which will be contaminated with diesel fumes from the mining, fumes from the blasting, and flying lead, radioactive and other types of dust.

The fumes from blasting are such that Simtars, the Queensland Australia Government´s leading mine safety organisation, was recently awarded a $360,000 grant to investigate pollutants in fumes caused by blasting operations at mines. This is to “help the mining industry better understand the causes of blast fume clouds and help reduce the potential health risks to workers of breathing in noxious fumes.” This seems to mean that it is not well-understood.  The Queensland Dept. of Natural Resources and Mines explains that “All explosions generate noxious gases…All mine blasting operations in Queensland are closely monitored by trained observers who record the colour of the fume clouds, their direction and distance travelled on the mine site.  However, there is little information available about the levels of pollutants within the fume clouds.  Only one previous study in the world, conducted in the NSW Hunter Valley in 2006, has attempted to measure them directly in the air above the blast site.” Furthermore, “The yellow/orange/red colour in fume clouds is caused by the gas nitrogen dioxide. While this gas will be the main focus of the research nitric oxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide gases will also be measured at ground level.” http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/safety-and-health/683.htm

The Queensland government has an informational brochure about blast fumes (for workers).  They inform us that of the nitrogen oxides, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is the more toxic.  The typical reddish-orange cloud becomes deeper in colour with higher concentrations of nitrogen dioxide.  These fumes have a pungent odour and taste.  Nitrogen dioxide’s very strong acrid odour can be smelled at much lower levels than the tolerable (safety) limits.  Whereas the odour threshold is 0.12 ppm, it is visible at 2.5 ppm.  At low levels, they assure us that the effects are extremely unlikely to be harmful to health, particularly if the reddish-brown gas is not visible.  Higher concentrations above 4 ppm may deaden the sense of smell, thus creating a potential for overexposure if smell is used as an indicator of exposure.  Symptoms from high exposure include eye irritation and coughing; initial dizziness and/or headache ( which may subside); shortness of breath; and 5 to 8 hours later, cyanosis (blue lips, fingertips).  Among recommendations for avoiding exposure they say to comply with blast-exclusion zones and fume-management zones; do not enter or remain in fume clouds; and to move out of fume cloud path. http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/assets/safety-and-health/fume_fact_sheet_30_8_11.pdf http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/assets/general-pdf/QGN-mgmt-oxides-nitrogen.pdf

From the vantage of smell, and perhaps safety, these blasting fumes sound very unpleasant indeed.  All the more so in a high-altitude area, where they are not used to air pollution.  What are the repercussions on Alpacas and on wildlife?

As part of the environmental assessment for this area, noise measurements were taken near populated areas. Since it has a low population, it is not surprising that they found the results to be below the maximums specified in the national environmental standard for residential zones.  What a change it will be for the people and the animals.  Already, deer and other animals do not like fireworks.  Surely Alpaca do not.  What will they do with the blasting and noise from mining?  It seems obvious that the wild animals will leave the area.  It could affect reproduction of alpaca.  What will become of the people and animals with the constant noise of machinery drilling, blasting, and vehicles?

Friday, 3 May 2013

Returning to yesterday’s topic of air quality, on p. 209 of Bear Creek’s technical document, they state that “The most common illness is respiratory infections, which children and the elderly are susceptible to during periods of snow and cold weather.”  And we ask, what sense does flying dust and pollution from any sort of mining have in a context where people are already susceptible to respiratory illness?

One chief environmental risk, which they fail to mention, is vibrations from mining activities.  Vibrations risk being more both more annoying and dangerous than noise.  Vibrations from mining include both repetitive vibrations from equipment and vibrations from blasts.  These may contribute to slope failure of the earth, as well as failure of natural and manmade dams, especially over time. In the worst case scenario these can lead to catastrophic slope and dam failures and land-slides.  The Bear Creek project foresees both a water reserve dam for mining activities and a tailings dam.  Contributing to vibrations which could lead to slope failure and dam failure would be the earthquake potential/seismic hazard of the zone.

According to a USGS (United States Geological Survey) map, the proposed mining area, has, on average between 0.5 and 1 earthquake of a magnitude of 5 or greater per year.
Earthquake Overlay Macusani FREQUENCY
Additionally, there is a 10% in 50 yrs hazard of a 2.4 m/s2 event (on the map it is on the edge of 3.2 m/s2 event).
Earthquake Overlay Macusani PGA
TO BE CONTINUED Saturday, 4 MAY 2013 in a new post. The new post is both a Part II and a split to the post. Daily posts continue there. The split is made at the 27 April Rock Art post, so some scrolling will still be needed, unfortunately, to find new posts.  We split it at 27 April in order to draw more attention to the endangered 10,000 yr. old Rock Art and the endangered Quelccaya Ice Cap. After the split daily posts will continue there.  We still have to cover water pollution, as well as what community leaders and community members think.
We will eventually open a Part II of the Drill Bit Screwup post. Nonetheless, we feel that this post is more critical than continuing the drill bit contamination post. References and additional reading below.

NB: If links do not work, please cut and paste the address into your browser. You may need to adjust the spacing. In some cases it is an accident/we are unable to fix it. However, we are trying to start making sure that pro-mining sites do not link directly from here. We do not think they will appreciate us anymore than we appreciate them. But, it is important to read what they have to say.

More References to be added

Picture at top of post from creativecommons.org via wikimedia commons, share and sharealike. For more details see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gwalpaca.jpg

Interview with Peter Hooper
“Yellow Cake’: The Facts behind the Icing” by Archie Bevan
price 35,000 to 100,000 dollars.
China and Macusani yellowcake
Impacts on miners of German Uranium Mining

References re Macusani-Corani Rock Art
Rainer Hostnig. Macusani y Corani, repositorios de Arte Rupestre Milenario en la Cordillera de Carabaya, Puno – Perú En Rupestreweb, 2005 http://rupestreweb2.tripod.com/macusani.html (pictures and maps of the area)

28 April 2013


Article about exploration continuing in July despite strikes
Rock paintings
75% of residents of Corani impacted by uranium mining
Nov. 2011 Asked for Exploration to Stop



30 April 2013

says no activity between 3 degrees and 15 south, but Quimssachata is approx 14 south
Swarthout’s background
http://otclinks. com/bcm_swarthout_background.htm
Kennecott accused illegally mining uranium Mexico