A number of parties raised concerns related to the difference or gap between actual risk and perceived risk with a uranium mining operation during the Kiggavik Project final hearing in March 2015. There was for example a conversation between the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in which they referenced the concept and examples of comfort or community monitoring (final hearing transcript pages 1054-57) that, despite some similarities, has a different intention from project effects monitoring as outlined in the Kiggavik Project final environmental impact statement.
We refer to project monitoring when effects can reasonably be expected to be measurable. Project monitoring happens for the most part near the operations because they are meant to record the performance of the operations and their anticipated limited extent of environmental effects. These monitoring programs, including their design, location, frequency, etc., are focused on confirming that predictions made before operations start are accurate, ensuring effects are well known and continue to be acceptable. They also inform needed improvements (adaptive management) and opportunities for improvement (continual improvement).
If the air and water quality are measured and acceptable as they leave the facility and are measured outward until they become either negligible or undetectable there is a high-level of confidence the larger landscape remains healthy and available for use and harvest without restriction. However, not everyone feels comfortable and confident that if changes are not occurring nearby operations they may not be occurring near their community or popular land use locations. In Saskatchewan the government and mine proponents set up community monitoring. This monitoring takes place in locations that are not selected based on possible operational effects but rather they are selected based on community land use. Sampling and monitoring is conducted in these locations to provide greater assurance and comfort to residents that the environment and country food remains safe. The sampling for these community monitoring programs is done by trained local residents, while testing and reporting is performed by independent environmental consultants.
AREVA has worked with others throughout the Kiggavik environmental review to close the gap between actual and perceived risks by:
- transparently presenting and communicating the actual risks with associated design and procedures to manage them,
- organizing uranium and radiation 101 workshops,
- offering exploration camps and mine site tours,
- contributing to the development of new Inuktitut terminology, and
- increasing understanding of uranium exploration and mining through other means such as open houses, public meetings and postings on the Kiggavik Project blog.
Further, AREVA provided a framework for the development of a future community monitoring program in the final environmental impact statement (described in Tier 3 Appendices 1F – Social and Ecological Context and 3C – Community Involvement Plan) and committed to support the continued work of the Inuit Language Authority so that future Inuit workers can clearly communicate their activities at the workplace to family and community members with Inuktitut words and concepts.
These are some of the examples of AREVA’s continued efforts to address and mitigate actual and perceived risks.