Port Hope demands action on uranium contamination

CanWest News Service: Norma Greenaway - December 03, 2007

OTTAWA -- Backed by the federal NDP, the head of a citizen's group made an impassioned plea Monday for Health Canada to launch comprehensive tests on residents of the Ontario community of Port Hope who are suffering from "long-term uranium contamination."

Faye More, a spokeswoman for the Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee, accused successive federal governments of ignoring repeated requests from the community to properly evaluate the uranium contamination from two refineries in the heart of the town.

Cameco Corp., the world's largest producer of fuel for nuclear reactors, has said it believes the contamination problem at its Port Hope conversion plant appears to be confined to the property. Production at the plant was halted this summer after the company discovered contaminated soil at the site.

Ms. More told a news conference a recent study by the Uranium Medical Research Centre, a non-profit, voluntary organization that her group hired to conduct local testing, showed evidence of serious problems. For instance, one child from the community had uranium levels in its body that were three times the concentration that would normally be expected. She also said an earlier study showed the town had higher than normal rates of some cancers.

NDP MP Nathan Cullen, the party's environment critic, said he hopes to force the issue onto the agenda of the Commons natural resources committee.

"We need to show leadership as the elected representatives of this country to ensure that the health of working people and of communities come first," he said.

Mr. Cullen accused the federal Health Department of ignoring evidence of contamination in the town, and said it goes against the federal Conservative party's promise of accountable government.

National Post

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