18 June 2012

Tanzania Churches Oppose Uranium Mining

Protestant churches in Tanzania have cautioned the government against extracting uranium deposits recently discovered in the East African country, noting that Germany plans to close its nuclear power stations by 2022 and the Japanese city of Fukushima is still recovering from the 2011 earthquake-caused nuclear disaster.

The churches who are members of the Christian Council of Tanzania have highlighted the Fukushima situation, where the Daiichi plant released radioactive material into the surrounding countryside, saying that Tanzania lacks safe structures to explore, mine or export the mineral. Germany announced in May 2011 that it will abandon nuclear energy completely within 11 years, saying it wants to focus on renewable energy.

"The government should quickly stop the exploration and mining of uranium," the Rev. Leonard Mtaita, a Lutheran who is the council's general secretary, told ENInews on 15 June. "It is an extremely poisonous mineral that has a serious impact on people and the environment. We are concerned the government does not have the capacity to deal with its threats."

According to the government, the recently discovered deposits in southern and central Tanzania are worth nearly US$83.8 million and would provide additional government revenue.

"Our country has an atomic energy commission which is responsible for ensuring that Tanzanians are safe and free from risks posed by uranium mining," Mohamed Gharib Bilal, Tanzania's vice president, said recently.

The council stressed that despite its value, uranium is a poisonous mineral that can be used to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.

"The countries using uranium to generate electricity are now looking for other options since they now know its dangers. We believe Tanzania is not ready to start mining, exporting and using uranium, said Peter Kitula, the council's chairperson.

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