Some in North Sask. on "pins and needles" after Orano COVID-19 case confirmation

Article content continuedThe McClean Lake facility, located about 750 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, proce

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The McClean Lake facility, located about 750 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, processes uranium for Cameco Corp.’s Cigar Lake mine. Cameco spokesman Jeff Hryhoriw said “the possible risk to our Cigar Lake staff resulting from the positive test … is very low” and that production will continue as planned.

Paul said the whole region is home to people who work at McClean Lake. She wants access to more public information about the case to share with community members who may be worried over the news, she said.

The chance of community transmission is “nerve-racking,” considering links between regional outbreaks earlier this year and workers returning from Alberta, she added.

Others said they consider the confirmed case an unfortunate but likely set of circumstances.

Pam Schwann, president of Saskatchewan Mining Association, said “while it’s not disappointing to hear of a case, it’s not unexpected.”

She said the mining sector’s health precautions and contact tracing will minimize the impact on northern communities.

Bruce Fidler, executive director of northern municipalities organization New North, said the confirmed case was surprising, but the company’s precautions are encouraging.

Île-à-la-Crosse Mayor Duane Favel said Orano has been in contact with him and other mayors over the situation. He estimated about four residents of his community fly into the facility for work, leaving him concerned over possible contact in the common areas there.

“As community leaders in northern Saskatchewan, I think we’re all concerned that the second wave of COVID-19 could infect a lot of our northern residents, especially the ones that are vulnerable,” he said.

“Our biggest fear is that we start to lose people in our communities in high numbers.”

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