ICAN: Uranium mining and health

Uranium mining and health

At the 19th IPPNW World Congress in Basel, Switzerland, the International Council adopted a resolution condemning uranium mining and the production of uranium oxide as “a grave threat to health and to the environment. Both processes involve an elementary violation of human rights and their use lead to an incalculable risk for world peace and an obstacle to nuclear disarmament.”

Uranium mining poisons the environment and devastates the health of miners and their families. The mine and mill workers are usually from the most vulnerable and exploited communities in the world, such as the Navajo in North America, aboriginal Australians, the Adivasi tribes in India, and the desert-dwelling Topnaar community in Namibia. Profit-driven mining companies, often in collusion with governments that want uranium either for nuclear weapons or for fuel in nuclear power plants, fail to provide adequate safety equipment or health care for workers and families suffering from exposure to radiation and toxic mine wastes. IPPNW doctors have documented increased incidences of cancers, birth defects, respiratory diseases, and other illnesses in some of the worst affected communities [link to IPPNW Germany's PDF "The death that creeps from the earth"].

For example, Indian Doctors for Peace and Development is working with communities at the Jadugoda mines in northeast India [link to IDPD study] and is empowering them to demand safer mining procedures  and protective equipment, proper waste management, and health clinics for workers and their families. With the expertise and support of MAPW, IPPNW's Australian affiliate, the traditional Mirrar people are continuing their resistance to the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine in the Northern Territory [link to MAPW study]. By bringing the plight of these indigenous victims of the nuclear age to the media, policy makers, and the public, IPPNW is driving home the fact that nuclear weapons can destroy lives even without detonation.

For more information about the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), contact John Loretz, Program Director.