Uranium: Is It a Country?

2008, Environment  -   55 Comments
Ratings: 5.00/10 from 22 users.

Uranium - Is It a Country?In Europe nuclear energy is more and more often celebrated as saving the climate. Clearly, nuclear power plants need uranium.

The aim is to comprehensively illustrate the opportunities and risks posed by nuclear energy, whilst paying particular attention to uranium mining.

Australia has the world’s largest deposits of this resource. We will travel to the "land down under" to exemplify where uranium comes from, where it goes to and what is leftover from it.

There is plutonium (used mostly together with uranium) and thorium. And by now there is just one thorium nuclear reactor in India. (what concerns nuclear fusion, deuterium and tritium could be use, but this is just hypothetical).

By now the most used combustible for the nuclear energy production is uranium and the world has many problems and risks because of this. This film is about uranium and its use for the nuclear energy production. It doesn't want to be comprehensive of everything concerning nuclear reactors. And it is a very good film, based on a accurate inquiry about uranium.

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55 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Robert Sharp

    what a total waste of the 15 mintues I invested watching this. Looney left movie here.

  2. madscirat

    Why don't we convert any adult who thinks uranium is a country into biofuel. Multiple problems solved.

  3. Hal Young

    We only have to look at the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plant disasters to find our answer as to whether we should continue to use these generating plants for power production. The accidents alone should close the discussion on whether nuclear power as a viable option any longer. The devastating effects of uranium ore production and the power plant waste disposal problem cannot ever be overcome and would be the nail in the coffin if it were not for the money the industry has in it's coffers which they use to buy off politicians and governments. And just answer me one question? When will all you nuclear power industry people get a clue that people are waking up and your lies, half truths and propaganda are falling on deaf ears?

    1. Barry Johnson

      Documentary = fatally flawed and disseminating complete misinformation, but AWESOME fear-mongering, Hal. I've noticed that throughout this comments section, you've made a point of bashing anyone who offers a view other than your own "strongly biased" anti-nuclear sentiment, throwing your uneducated two-cents in at every opportunity.

      The age of getting away with "lies" and "half truths" in mining are gone. The propaganda you speak of died with the use of the pick and shovel and when big miners became publically traded firms - miners can't operate without a social licence anymore and between regulators and investors, the facts can't be obscured as you seem to think they are.

      But your comment a bit further down that said "nuclear industry...is desperate when they try to bedazzle you with all their facts and figures" speaks volumes about your credibility and your obvious confirmation bias. Your attitude is "screw those bedazzling nuclear FACTS folks, they don't prove MY point", rather than taking at stab at any falsificationism.

  4. Kristaps B?rzinš

    I watched it for 25 min`s. It`s even worse then those creationist videos. This one could get rational-ignorant human in belief, that those amateurs know what they are speaking of. This one belongs in conspiracy or religion topic.

  5. Michael Banks

    I like the Aboriginal guy driving up in a car (made from minerals) on a bitumen road (made of minerals), carrying a water plastic bottle (made from minerals) going through a long procedure of digging up a few tiny bush onions, and implying you could live off this stuff and what a "natural man" he was. The soil face he is digging for the onions in, is not actually a natural surface, it looks a lot to me like a costean (a trench dug by mining companies. He also said that Aboriginals traditionally avoided all natural minerals calling them poison. No wonder they stayed in the stone age. If you were seeking truthful and reliable information in this video, you came to the wrong place.

    1. Hal Young

      So Mr. Banks, are we to trust someone like you for reliable and truthful information? Someone whose face book page has a picture of a minor and whose facebook handle Goldjobs? Give me a freeking break.

  6. Rishi Lama

    Excellent information shared through this movie...Good job.

  7. Remco Gerritsen

    Field as in making documentaries.

  8. Remco Gerritsen

    Just the first 5 seconds and you see this is done by an amateur on this field.

  9. Rob Riddell

    I grew up near an abandoned Iron Mine, the place is a mess and no-one will pay to clean it up, there's chemical filled tailing ponds full of unknown substances and there's barrels and barrels of PCBs just sitting there while everyone argues for the last 30 years about who should pay. mining is very destructive but the damage could be minimized if the companies that damage the land pay to clean up after but they never do and are never held accountable.

  10. Nipz82

    Tailings are a valid concern for ALL mines, and water usage. I highly doubt 32 million litres a day though. Everything else is mostly hogwash.

  11. Nipz82

    First off...gamma radiation is not blocked by a body...no matter how fat you are it will still pass right through you. It passes through lead shielding too, your body is not dense compared to lead. Secondly, Uranium 308 is a company...not a f--king isotope of uranium. 235 is the isotope in question. Thirdly...rofl. Poor information and a poor documentary.

  12. engbro

    The beauty of Nuclear power is you have no other power source, where you can have so much control of its waste, relative to its power output.

    The issue regarding tailing is rather overblown and inaccurate. TP are designed for 1000 year lifespans, and while you may say anything that needs to be supervised for 1000 years can't be sustainable I want you to realize that this is the level of precaution and care that is take, and this is assumed we will constantly be adding more tailing. With TP the water is removed eventually by the hydro-logical cycle and then recycled, so the whole 35 million litres a day is a bit alarmist. What is left is a depleted sand, which globally amounts to approximately 500 deaths per century.

    After this, all the waste remaining can be monitored, stored, and processed further to reduce radioactive emissions to normal levels. If we designate sites for mass storage, an optimal location can be chosen, and an industrial decommissioning process can take place (see yucca mountain). Obviously if you are 8m away from a fuel truck, or 10m away from spent fuel before its transported, you will face elevated levels, try standing in front of a CRT screen, or microwave.

    All of this leads to a high output, low cost, easily to manipulate energy system.

    1. Hal Young

      More industry lies and propaganda...don't fall for it people.

  13. Ryan Evans

    I can't believe all of those people near the start of the doc that have no idea what uranium is....It's atomic number 92 on the periodic table of elements!! didn't anybody take chemistry in high school?

    1. Remco Gerritsen

      I did. Or at least. We had it for some while. But it was barely, or actually non, about that table of elements. 90% of the time the teacher was sick.

  14. Schnesse Katz

    HI Alf, here is someone who "signed their name" onto that film. You are not being very constructive here, I am afraid to say so.

    The "free bus tour" was our last resort - during our research phase we had been asking BHP Billiton, as well as Rio Tinto - which is another uranium miner in Australia- for months to give us an interview. They chose not to talk to us and sent poor Michael Angwin instead. We would have loved to get into a constructive dialogue with someone from the company but it was them who chose not to meet us in the first place.

    Your questions "Also why is it that we never hear a question being asked? What are you hiding? " are amusing. Just because our style of making documentary films isn't Michael Moore's doesn't mean we are hiding anything.

    Sorry for the subtitles....

    Oh and don't worry too much about our funding - there was no money spent on the postcards, or on wages for anyone on that project either. Ever heard of voluntary work? Does the term "youth project" ring a bell?

    1. Guest

      i have not watched the doc...but i want to say...kuddos on making a doc especially the fact that it was a youth project that didn't require much funds.
      You guys are obviously onto something (from reading the comments below Alf's).
      Make an other one...it will be even better...and a third....
      Now i will look at this.

      edit: well done! I didn't find that the question needed to be included, the answer provided enough clue to know what the question was. @Alf Stewart, I really don't see why people should be ashamed to have made such a doc...really???

    2. Alf Stewart

      Hi Schnesse, Alf Stewart here again.

      Let me put it this way.

      If you, and the group of people responsible for this production, truly cared about the subject matter, then you would have made every effort to produce something which could stand up to critisicim. Instead it is sloppy, full of errors and biased to the point where a viewer feels as though they are probably being mislead.

      Being factual and balanced does not cost more. But the end product would have far greater value.

    3. Hal Young

      The only important thing is the FACT that radiation kills...Don't you people get it? Come on!

  15. Alf Stewart

    This is propaganda, it is not a documentary.

    It is an insult to the viewers intelligence.

    Anyone who signed their name to this should be either ashamed or angry, depending on their role in the production.

    No need to interview or attempt an interview with BHP to talk about the process and procedure, no need, not if you jump on board the free bus tour, and capture the tour guides description of what is carried out in the mine.

    At times the subtitles don't match what is being said, as a result a very different meanings are implied taken. Thats tacky, and removes credibility. How about basic fact checking, how many litres are taken daily from the artesian supply? 35 million? billion? trillion? Location shots are wrong. The money spent on post cards for editorial content could have gone towards a tripod. Also why is it that we never hear a question being asked? What are you hiding? And at no point is there any evidence of any form of investegation.

    You have done more harm than good to your cause. Good work guys

  16. Egads_Egads

    Many Australians are against nuclear energy- WE don't use it, we only sell it to countries that don't use it for weaponry (although how can you really know...?).

    One of the reasons that, as an Australian, I am against Uranium is that it has ruined vast tracts of land that has been deemed "empty" yet is actually traditional indigenous land. Recent developments include paying massive amounts of money to local indigenous communities to keep uranium waste on their land- indefinitely. This exploits a people, and still ruins the land. Indigenous Australians have a relationship with the land that can perhaps be compared with Native Americans. When sacred sites are affected (and they have been by other mining initiative in Australia), people suffer, culture suffers, community suffers, spirit suffers. We need to stop looking at the middle of Australia as wastelands. Go look at the "Fuel" film to see what many Australians would prefer to embrace.

    1. Kumamori

      I hope your government wisens up and sponsors solar power for one, even if it is a more expensive solution. Here up north people don't have so much sunlight to make it so effective, instead some people here take their energy from earth heat few hundred feet below ground. It's practically either that or a nuclear plant here.

    2. Hal Young

      Well said Egads_Egads. Our own governments are effectively subsidizing (paying them)these mining companies and the nuclear power industry to pollute our planet with their radioactive tailings that enter the water, the air, the soil, the animals and the people. Yes! we are paying for the privilege of having our quality of life impaired and threatened and the lives of many cut short due to cancers caused by radiation.

  17. ok...

    ok... dint even load...

  18. habler

    I think the problem in peoples minds is that Nuclear technology creates waste that lasts for generations. Although im told the newest Uranium reactors are much more efficient.

    Nuclear waste is very insidious. No ones doubting the output a plant can generate but its a long process from mine to electricty.

    The costs of building and then decommisioning these reactors is also very large and can be a hidden cost.

  19. Bathat1

    The energy potential in nuclear power is very high (much higher than any conventional source) and the potential risks are higher as well, though I wouldn't say disproportionately so (IMHO). This is true of pretty much everything in life. More reward = more risk. Nothing is free.

    The coal, petrochemical and many metal mining and processing industries also contribute greatly to the problems of disposal of toxic tailings and waste, but they don't normally elicit the level of emotional response as do terms relating to nuclear power. If I got cancer, it wouldn't matter to me whether I got it from a power plant venting radioactive steam or from dioxin or mercury into the groundwater.

    I'm not sure what Mr Savage is saying. I'm not flaming and perhaps I misunderstand you, but just to clear things up - there is no such thing as hydrogen fission, and commercially viable fusion has not yet been achieved, though it's been the holy grail of heavily funded research for decades.

    Hydrogen doesn't occur naturally in any quantity to be useful for conventional combustion, and even so has nowhere near the energy content of uranium on any basis. Helium is completely non-flammable, so there is no solution with either hydrogen or helium.

    Also, Mr Savage, where you use the term 'half-lives', I think you mean isotopes.

    1. Hal Young

      People like to quibble about the facts and downplay the dangers of nuclear radiation. Why don't you just come out and say that the risks of nuclear power ARE higher ( much higher) your choice of words, " potential" downplays the real risks and (IMHO) I don't think your opinion means diddly squat to those who have suffered through the devastating effects of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plant disasters.

  20. habler

    Reasons voice, i believe the water use they were refering to was of the ancient aquifer that was being drained for use in the mines.

    Britain needs to implement a huge wind turbine building program , then these can be placed in our abundant offshore wind sources. Build overcapacity and a more efficient transmission network to compensate when it is not windy in some areas.

    This could easily be done if there wasthe politcal will to do so.

    In the future solar and perhaps Thorium technologies will be perfected as well as other possible sources. For the next 30 years i see wind as being the most bang for the buck so to speak.

  21. JK

    What happened to the documentary?

  22. Reasons Voice

    Final note contributed by my 3rd grade science teacher. Thank you MR Vianni!!!

  23. Reasons Voice

    Final note. Nuke plants don't destroy water you dolt they turn it into steam or in scientific terms WATER VAPOR that's what we call clouds which then condense to form .....you guessed it water or rain to us common folk.

    1. Hal Young

      It's the tailing ponds and the mess the mining companies leave that pollute the water, air land, animals and people you "dolt", so indirectly "Nuke plants" as you put it...Do pollute the water!

  24. Reasons Voice

    Ohh Ok Here is a hint. Solar power panels generate 70 milliwatts per square inch. The Empire State Building uses 97 megawatts per hour at peak usage. One milliwatt = 1.0e-9 megawatt. or conversely 1 megawatt = 1 000 000 000 milliwatts. So that means that the solar panel needed to power the Empire State Building would have to be 1,385,714,285. Square inches in surface area. that is .34 square miles or 138 square city blocks (east coast standard). That is one big Elephant my friend.

  25. Reasons Voice

    I'm Sorry @ I'm Sorry, The reason that the world is overlooking your miracle solution is due to the gross inefficiency of solar power. I will offer a lint to the info but also state the gist. To power an average home one needs to have a 285 square foot solar power unit that costs approx $16,000. That of course does not include power to utilities like hot water stove dryer etc, only lights, tv, stereo, and so on. If you want to add just one small window unit AC double that to 570 square foot panel at $32,000 per unit. The average 4 bedroom home has 4-5 AC units that means in the summer one would need a 1,425 square foot solar panel costing them $80,000.00. Now the average 4 bedroom home is 2500 square feet divided into 2 floors making its footprint 1250 square feet. so essentially to run an average home WITHOUT UTILITIES such as hot water, stove, oven, heat, etc you need to have a panel 175 square feet larger than the homes footprint. That being said, just talking residential here, in essence to convert to solar we would have to blanket the entire neighborhood. Have fun living in the shade. Oh and you cooked meal your dry clothes your hot shower still heated with natural gas. Shall I discuss urban districts now?????? li8nk to follow in second post in case of moderator delay.

    1. Hal Young

      You can see that the nuclear power industry and all their policy wonks are desperate when they try to bedazzle you with all their facts and figures but when your talking about the destruction of the planet through the air we breath, the water we drink, the living soil which nourishes all life on earth, no amount of facts or figures can outweigh the truth of the matter. And I have haven't even mentioned the devastating aftermaths of Chernobyl and Fukushima. Profits above people is the only reason the nuclear power fraud persists, the tragedy is that we have the know how we need to provide safe power generation and reduce consumption...it's just a matter of will. When the peoples will becomes stronger than that of the corporations then that will be the end of nuclear power but not the end of their waste and pollution!

  26. Im sorry

    I'm sorry but most commenters are ignoring the elephant in the room. You can call it one sided all you want, but uranium production wastes the most important resource we have on this earth...
    All that water wasted and all because we DON"T WANT TO USE SOLAR AND WIND
    Solar and wind have gone through some amazing changes and right now as we speak, the world's first solar air plane is flying in the night.!! A small plane albeit but the first of it's kind with so much more to come.
    Nuclear, Oil, Coal, natural gas and petroleum are all archaic sources of energy production that require huge imputs with irreversible and lethal side effects. Comon ppl, let's move beyond the exploitation pollution energy production paradigm and EVOLVE!!

  27. timmy

    what the hell, all the people they interviewed at the start were english tourists.. not australians

  28. israeli

    i think australia's biggest problem is not necessarily the number of uranium mines but the way their law handles them.
    the first thing i would do is to have the government take care of the environmental issues instead of the companies which have no interest in doing it effectively.
    the budget for this governmental activity should be taken from those companies as fines or environmental taxes, than those companies will have the real price tag of manufacturing their product, if it's still worth the trouble let them sell it, if not, they will shut down.
    i think this doc, as said before me, doesn't look at the big picture and try to take everything into account when doing it's calculations. i hate it when they throw numbers at you as if the number of kilometers tells you anything about the total cost or benefit of nuclear energy.

  29. Billton

    "Moranium what is that?"


  30. Anthony

    It'd be interesting to see the results of the town of Roxbury Downs, in say, 50-100 years. Maybe nobody else caught the fact that the Mining Company there, sets up the towns govt, thereby controlling the entire town and it's policies.

    I foresee a major shite-storm brewing in that area, and maybe for the whole of AU alike. You guys need a 21st century Erin Brokovich, no doubts! Don't count of corporate controlled politicians to do anything, without being forced by the people they are supposed to be working for.

  31. ScottyB

    Definitely informational, albeit one-sided. Worthwhile to watch, but one should keep an open mind to other factors of Uranium mining and that the solutions to the problems posed by this film aren't out of reach.

  32. Bryan

    Agree with others. It is a good documentary, asking good questions especially about tailings. I think it is a bit biased and some statements of fact are not well justified. Nevertheless, the questions are good and should lead to more inquiry both on the part of those who support nuclear power and those who oppose it. The important thing for people of both positions should be to examine the risks, learn the lessons of history, seek transparency of information, and consider both short and long terms benefits and detriments.
    This is also true of oil, coal, and even hydroelectric and solar power. There are few sources of energy that are truly clean and guilt-free without any problems. If only we could get all that lightning that zips around above us...

  33. bhertzbe

    Very one-sided documentary:
    While covering all the potential negative effects of nuclear power, the film leaves the huge benefits virtually unspoken. For those who would like better information on this topic a must-see is Dr. Richard Muller's, "Physics for Future Presidents," from Berkeley University. It covers this topic excellently, and it is free on YouTube.

  34. Mo

    It's an interresting documentary if a bit biased. The amount of radioactive waste produced per watt produced is very tiny and when you factor in the amount of carbon that is not put into the atmosphere because you're not using coal powered plants, uranium as a fuel is even more appealing. It's a matter of compromise. Is it worth creating all the nuclear waste from nuclear power generation for the amount of carbon we avoid generating? I think so.

    1. Hal Young

      When it comes to human life and the health of the planet, can you blame them for being biased. And I would say that the nuclear power industry is just a bit biased, yeah just a teeny bit biased, when they put profits over people. And I'm tired of that worn out argument about efficiency, we can produce clean power if we had the will to do it and as far as I'm concerned, life wont be worth living if we keep ignoring the fact that we are polluting our own home. What we do to the planet, we do to ourselves. So when it comes to compromise, I'd rather not let the nuclear power industry or their boosters make any compromises on my behalf thank you very much.

    2. StillRV

      @Hal. Those are the typical talking points of most ill informed knee jerk environmentalists. Go look up the figures. Look up the cutting edge techs out there. The ever cleaner and more enviro friendly nuc plant models. You cite Chernobyl and Fukishima ? One was so ill run due to the nature of bass ackwards communist bureaucracy the other hit by one of the largest ever recorded earthquakes and subsequent tidal waves? Give me a break.

    3. over the edge

      hey long time. where have you been hiding?

    4. StillRV

      Lurking, viewing, keeping my trap shut. The doc site has been kinda slow lots of conspiracy stuff, not a lot of what I take interest in. How are things?

    5. over the edge

      things are good. let yourself be heard on occasion. somebodies gotta keep the rest of us honest lol

    6. StillRV

      When the devil needs his advocate, I'm on retainer.

  35. Benjinator3000

    Your right Mr. Savage but helium 3 is really low suply here on earth. Unless we can travel to the moon where the supply is infinate!! then we shall succeed.

  36. mr savage

    the thing is, uranium and its half-lifes are less effective than hydrogen in nuclear fission/fusion, and hydrogen, or helium 3 are much less dangerous to the environment and can also be burned in their raw state if need be.
    secondly if a power station were to ever be attacked for any reason, hydrogen/helium3 escaping into the atmosphere would have no negative effects compared with uranium and/or its half lifes, which could have serious and lasting affects on the entire planet for decades.

  37. blackev

    Interesting topic, if you think energy will be a mega-mayjor issue within your lifetime then this is a great documentary that introduces you to some of the inherent problems of nuclear power, wish it was a little less biased by calculating real power (produced power minus the power used to produce) per kilo of yellow cake or per kilo of waste, i liked the bit when they where using the Geiger Counter didnt realise the technology was that fast and accurate, i also thought it was good that they showed a few steps in the nuclear journey (mining, transport and a little on use)
    overall i am glad to have watched it but it leaves me wanting a bit more.