Ryan refuses uranium mining licences

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sun, Dec 02, 2007 - Prospectors have been banned from mining the hills of Donegal (Ireland) for the nuclear fuel uranium, it emerged today.

The Minister for Natural Resources Eamon Ryan refused to grant exploration licences to two companies with their eyes set on some of the county's most wild and scenic areas.

The Green Party TD said he declined the recent applications as part of a wider stance against nuclear power in Ireland and in the UK.

"It would be hypocritical to permit the extraction of uranium for use in nuclear reactors in other countries, while the nuclear generation of electricity is not allowed in Ireland ," he said.

"And particularly while the Irish Government continues to object to the operation of nuclear power generation at Sellafield and other locations."

Uranium prospecting licences were granted previously in the 1970s and 1980s, when the rare ore was discovered in Donegal, according to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

The most recent applications were made just a few weeks ago.

Minister Ryan confirmed he was signalling a wider policy decision to prohibit nuclear-related industry in Ireland during his ministerial watch.

"Granting a licence carries an implicit policy agreement permitting its extraction should a viable prospect be discovered. This is where my concern lies," he said.

"The most likely end use of any uranium extracted in Ireland would be for nuclear electricity generation.

"There are also significant environmental and public health concerns surrounding uranium mining, including contamination of ground and surface water supplies and radiation levels."

He added: "In this decision we are following the example set by other countries who remain opposed to the nuclear generation of electricity, such as New Zealand ."

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