Safety was the key message delivered last night in La Ronge by Cameco as the uranium company began outlining to the CNSC why it should get new licences at three of its northern Saskatchewan mines.

Cameco officials spoke at length about the safety measures being taken to protect the environment, keep workers safe and also act as a responsible northern employer.

Kevin Quesnel is the general manager at the McArthur River mine.

He says they have worked hard to keep radiation exposure to workers low:

“I often tell visitors before they head underground that our success in controlling doses may seem counter-intuitive.  We have the highest-grade uranium mine in the world, yet our exposures are consistently low.”

Cameco got a passing grade from officials with Canada’s nuclear regulator.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is chairing the hearings, found the uranium company is performing at a satisfactory level when it comes to safety measures, fixing problems and reporting accidents.

Member Tom Gates says the company has made strides in lowering certain chemicals in its effluent:

“CNSC staff verified that treated effluent concentrations have been controlled to far below regulatory limits and action levels to limit environmental risk.  For example, since 2008, selenium has been reduced by greater than 60% and molybdenum by over 75%.”

He says they also found that spills were immediately reported by the company and cleaned up.

However, the commission said Cameco must continue to carry out ecological assessments to determine any future impacts on the environment.

The commission’s Jean LeClair told those in attendance the company’s performance was rated satisfactory when it came to radiation doses.

Groups that want to intervene in Cameco’s bid for licence renewal are starting to take the floor today.