Inuit leaders in Labrador are hearing different opinions about the effects of a proposed uranium mine near the coastal community of Postville.
Mining company Aurora Energy Resources brought its case for the mine to Nunatsiavut government members this week. It wants to have the mine operating by 2014.
Some Inuit have expressed worries about the mine contaminating the land, and the government is considering a ban on uranium mining.
Aurora vice-president John Roberts said the concerns are unfounded, and that tailings and waste from the mine would be limited to an area oftwo or three square kilometres.
"The tailings will be about 15 per cent less radioactive than the ore itself. It'll be deposited in an engineered containment area that will be properly managed and designed in accordance with the standards of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission," he said.
Roberts also said uranium mines in Canada have overcome past problems, and his company would use new technology.
"Fifty years ago when people were mining uranium they didn't have the techniques we have today, and they didn't know about the problems, and in some cases for various reasons such as wartime they had other priorities. And today there are very detailed systems to manage and engineer all of the protections," he said.
Retired chemist Sydney Brownstein also spoke to the assembly,and said the affected area could be larger than the company suggests.
"I'm not saying what they said is wrong, I'm just saying it's just not quite the whole truth," he said.
Brownstein said thatover the long term some of the radioactive gas waste — including the dangerousgas Radon — would almost certainly travel much farther. He said experience from a uranium mine in Ontario shows that even minute amounts can cause cancer.
"We have well-documented cases of much higher death rates in Elliot Lake because of the uranium mines there, that's a natural happening because of the mine," he said.
Inuit leaders are hearing from two more experts on Wednesday.