In her book of poems, Love Dreaming, aboriginal writer Ali Cobby Eckermann from Australia writes, “Every grain of sand in this big red country is a pore on the skin of my family.” Her writing and her new book, Too Afraid to Cry reflect the alienation of the ‘Stolen generation’ of children who were selectively taken away from their families and raised by white people and also the plight of her people who are waging a war over land rights.
Thousands of people from indigenous communities plan to hold massive protests over land issues on Australia Day on January 26, she says. Protests are continuing in various parts of Australia over mining uranium and minerals and even Kakadu National Park, on the UNESCO World Heritage Site is under threat.
In New Delhi to deliver the annual Navayana lecture, she told The Hindu in an interview that a serious lack of understanding between cultures persists in Australia at a political level and with mining it has expanded. “We worry for our children. Now the Western Australian government wants to use bulldozers and close 150 or 180 small aboriginal communities — they say it is not sustainable to keep these communities going. Where do these people go? They can wander to the city to become a makeshift community under tarpaulin as they are not going to rehouse them,” she says.
The sudden move, she suspects, is to do with mining and removing people from the area so that even that little bit of resistance is gone. That’s the scary part but the aboriginal people will survive. It’s all about land, the war is over land, she says and no one really articulates it like that. “Why would they want these remote areas which are mineral rich to be emptied of people. Western Australia is among the richest mining areas but why is not the government saying some percentage of that mining rights should go to the community. That doesn’t happen, the miners don’t pay tax and we watch the money fly away,” she points out.
Referring to the civil nuclear deal between India and Australia, she said, “Please consider when you support nuclear energy in India what happens to our culture. There will be a slow erosion of human rights but we will fight for the right of our children to have rights of lands.”
The government has given approvals for uranium mines in western Australia. Hailing from South Australia, she said this was a place of ancient knowledge. “In aboriginal culture we do not own the land, we belong to the land and the land does not belong to us, the land is our heart, “she says.
The struggle for land in the mid 70s when people drove to Adelaide and demanded their land back had resulted in some rights being restored. There was a strong law in place on mining but unknown to many communities the government in 2008 has sneaked in amendments which do not provide for negotiations as in the past. “So if a community agrees to exploration it has virtually given away the right to mining as well,” Ms. Eckermann adds.
In Northern Territory some ten years ago the government had proposed nuclear waste storage sites but a group of women pensioners living in old age homes got together with support from Friends of the Earth and fought the government and managed to convince them that this was not a good idea. Ms Eckermann who has learnt a lot from what she calls the “struggle of my grandmothers”, says the women essentially told the government from a cultural perspective their aversion to the nuclear waste dump on their lands and part of that was because they were young girls when the Maralinga atomic testing took place by the British in the 1950s. Many had lost their family in the nuclear fallout and for these women, it was an environmental war- and a cultural war and they were so dignified in their protest, she says.”I don’t know how they did it. They said never raise your voice except to sing traditional songs and they told the government to “get your ears out of your pockets.” It was a such a grass roots victory and there was no more room for lying and deceit. This was a jury of traditional women, against younger white men and the women won,” she grins.
Thousands of people from indigenous communities plan to hold massive protests over land issues on Australia Day on January 26 which many also call Invasion day for that’s when Captain Cook arrived on the country’s shores. ……..
“Land is like my family, that rock is like my grandfather and that sand dune is my mother. We have our ways and they can be customised to modern life but the core wisdom won’t change. We have to stop the intergenerational social impacts but every time the government meets us they have no concept of land or the people. And then we are called ungrateful, “she concludes. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/waging-a-war-over-land-rights/article6800001.ec
The Aboriginal peoples of Quebec stand together against uranium at the final hearings of the BAPE in Montreal theturtleislandnews.com/daily/mailer_stories/dec162014/The-Aboriginal-peoples-of-Quebec-stand-together-against-uranium-at-the-final-hearings-of-the-BAPE-in-Montreal-pr1121614.html MONTREAL, Dec. 15, 2014 – At the final public hearings of the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) on the uranium industry in Quebec, to be held today in Montreal, the James Bay Cree Nation will deliver a resounding and united message of opposition to uranium development in their territory, Eeyou Istchee. The Cree Nation, which has led the charge against uranium development, has been joined in this position by the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador and the Inuit of northern Quebec, who will also make presentations to the BAPE today.
“A powerful message has been sent by all of the Aboriginal peoples of Quebec. Together, we have said NO to uranium,” said Matthew Coon Come, the Grand Chief of the James Bay Cree Nation. “Today, we show that the Cree Nation speaks in one voice – united with the other Aboriginal peoples of Quebec – when we insist that our lands remain free of uranium mining and uranium waste.”
The Cree Nation Youth Council’s StandAgainstUranium march, which began in Mistissini on November 23, arrived in Montreal today to attend the BAPE hearings. The marchers have travelled on foot over 850 km in 23 days, to share the Cree Nation’s message and to encourage other Quebeckers to stand with them against uranium development. Overwhelmingly, those they met along the way have agreed that uranium mining should be banned in Quebec.
Youth Grand Chief Joshua Iserhoff has led the StandAgainstUranium march and will be making submissions to the BAPE on behalf of the Youth Council. “One of our community’s favourite fishing spots, Gobanji, is on Mistissini Lake, downstream from Strateco’s Matoush project. My grandma’s goose camp is there too,” reflected Youth Chief Iserhoff. “I’ve had lots of time on this walk to think about how important this land is to me, my family and our entire community. I will be telling the Commissioners, on behalf of Cree Youth, that uranium mining, and the radioactive and hazardous waste it will leave behind, are not welcome in Eeyou Istchee.”
“The courage and resolution shown by the StandAgainstUranium marchers over the last few weeks speaks in a powerful way to the determination of our people to protect Eeyou Istchee from the risks of uranium mining and uranium waste, today and for future generations. We give our thanks to the First Nations who offered support and encouragement along the way,” noted Grand Chief Coon Come. “We have been gratified to see that as they learn the facts about uranium, Quebeckers are joining with us in our stand.”
The BAPE’s final hearings will be held in the Salle Ovation at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, at 1pm and 7pm. The evening sessions will be co-chaired by the BAPE Commission, the James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment and the Kativik Environmental Advisory Committee.
More information about uranium and the Cree Nation’s position can be found at www.StandAgainstUranium.com, on Facebook (James Bay Cree Against Uranium) or on Twitter (@JBCAUranium). SOURCE The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
The group braved blizzards and temperatures as low as minus-28 C as they marched 850 kilometres across the province to take part in environmental hearings on uranium mining.
They fear the waste from mining would contaminate the land and water of Cree communities and encroach on trap lines, and want a ban on uranium exploration.
A hearing by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) on uranium mining wrapped up on Monday, with a final report expected next May.
“The potential risks associated with uranium mining, which leaves behind thousands of years of radioactive material, that’s what concerns our people,” Chief Richard Shecapio of Mistissini told reporters shortly before the hearings began.
The Cree Nation Youth Council argues that uranium mining would affect tourism, as the region is a popular getaway for fishers………
There’s a moratorium on uranium exploration in Quebec, imposed last year by the previous Parti Québécois government. Before that time, the only uranium project seeking an exploration permit was Strateco Resources Inc.’s Matoush site in the Otish mountains, about 275 kilometres north of Chibougamau.
Yves-François Blanchet, the environment minister at the time, said no permits would be issued for the exploration or mining of uranium until an independent study on the mineral’s social acceptability and environmental impacts had been completed.
Last week, Strateco Resources filed a $190-million lawsuit against the Quebec government for blocking its project after years of ground work.
Cree Youth Walk 850 km To Protest Against Uranium Mining In Quebec, Huff Post. CBC 14 Dec 14 About 20 young Cree people have walked nearly 850 kilometres to Montreal’s South Shore from their village in northern Quebec, protesting against uranium exploration in the province.
The youth left Mistissini, Que., northeast of Chibougamau in the James Bay region three weeks ago. On the way, they stopped in Quebec City to share their message. They arrived in Longueuil, just across the bridge from Montreal, Saturday.
Their final destination is downtown Montreal, where they will deliver that message to the province’s environmental protection agency, known as the BAPE, when it holds the last of a series of public hearings on uranium exploration tomorrow.
The Cree young people have endured frigid temperatures and wintry conditions, walking an average of a marathon a day. “We’ve lost a couple of toenails on this journey,” said Joshua Iserhoff, chair of the Cree Nation Youth Council.
But according to Iserhoff, it’s been worth it.
He said uranium exploration near his community could cause irreparable damage to the watershed………
Now the province is holding public hearings on uranium mining. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/12/14/cree-uranium-mining-protest_n_6322934.html
Makivik President Jobie Tukkiapik says the consensus is clear: Nunavik Inuit fears for radioactive contamination of the land trump any economic windfall they might reap from uranium mining.
“Uranium is a controversial topic, and must be considered separately from conventional mining activities exploiting other minerals in Nunavik,” Tukkiapik says.
Makivik Corporation, the land claims organization, teamed up with the Kativik Regional Government in stating their case to Quebec’s environmental consultation office.
The land claims organization made the announcement following three years of consultations throughout Nunavik’s 14 communities. They also did consultations in Montreal and some neighbouring Cree villages. KRG chair Maggie Emudluk says the key concern is the health of country food.
Inuit rely on hunting wildlife for sustenance, and Emudluk says the impact of radioactive material getting into the food chain could be deadly.
“The psychological effects cannot be underestimated,” she says. “People are afraid of uranium in general, but when a population is so dependent on locally sourced food, the fear and uncertainty escalate.”
It remains to be seen whether the declaration is legally enforceable under Quebec law
Northern Quebec Cree start 850 km trek to protest against uranium mining By Caroline Nepton, CBC News Nov 21, 2014 “……this weekend Iserhoff, who is the chair of the Cree Nation Youth Council, will join a group of Crees walking to Montreal to hand deliver a message to the province’s environmental protection agency’s (BAPE) commission on the uranium industry in Quebec.
The group has a message for BAPE: There will be no uranium exploration and exploitation on the Cree territory of Eeyou Istchee.
“We are the stewards of the land, therefore we have this responsibility to protect for the generations to come,” Iserhoff said.
The walkers will be leaving Mistissini this Sunday to travel over 850 kilometers to reach Montreal by Dec. 15, the last day of the BAPE’s public hearings on the uranium industry in Quebec.
They want other nations and other Quebecers to join the walk. “Innu’s are coming, Algonquins are coming and maybe Atikamekw,” Iserhoff said. ‘The Crees are only one voice and so we are seeking allies.’- Matthew Coon Come, grand chief of Cree Grand Council
The trek is one of the many strategies used by the Crees to protest against uranium mining in their territory.
The Cree Nation government firmly opposes all uranium exploration, mining and waste storage in Eeyou Istchee, Cree territory in northern Quebec. A couple of weeks ago the Cree government launched a website and a social campaign: #StandAgainstUranium. They are still asking people to take selfies with the Stand Against Uranium sign.
The government also sponsored The Wolverine: The Fight of the James Bay Cree, which was presented at the Uranium Festival in Germany last September.
“The Crees are only one voice and so we are seeking allies,” saidMatthew Coon Come, the grand chief of the Cree Grand Council.
One of the most advanced uranium projects in the province is the Strateco Resource Matoush project in Otish Mountain, north ofMistissini.
In 2013, Quebec became the third Canadian province, after Nova Scotia and British Columbia, to establish a moratorium on uranium development. In light of that moratorium, Quebec’s environment minister refused to grant Strateco the permits it had requested to go ahead with the project. http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/northern-quebec-cree-start-850-km-trek-to-protest-against-uranium-mining-1.2844050
http://www.pozible.com/project/187985 The story of the project At the ANFA (Australia
Nuclear Free Alliance) meeting in Oct 2014 Indigenous Elders called for documentation of the health effects from the Maralinga and other atomic bomb tests in the 1950’s and 1960’s. See https://ausnukefreealliance.wordpress.com for the meeting statement.
Permission was never sort from the Aboriginal nations.
“Just remember that the fallout at Maralinga affected the whole lot of us. Black, white, brindle; we all breathe the same air, and we’re all being affected in various ways, even though that happened a long time ago. It’s still around.” Sue Coleman-Haseldine (Kokatha Mula – Ceduna)
From 1952 to 1963 atomic testing covered vast areas of South Australia including Maralinga and Emu Fields test sites.
In November 2014 there will be a 3 week road trip to archive the stories of the people from Arabuna, Walitina, Ceduna, and Yalata country to produce film, audio and digital documentaries. We will begin a data base of the families affected, the geographical distributions of fall out and detrimental health repercussions of these unconsented tests.
Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created. Both in the scale of the devastation they cause, and in their uniquely persistent, spreading, genetically damaging radioactive fallout, they are unlike any other weapons.
For more information on nuclear weapons, including an article on Yami Lester, one of the survivors of the nuclear tests in South Australia, see http://www.icanw.org/au/
Many Aboriginal people in South Australia still rely on bush foods – plants and animals sourced from land that still is contaminated. The possibility of bioaccumulation is very real. Certainly the stories of early death from cancer, thyroid disease and congenital deformities are continuing.
“I’ve lost a lot of my family members through early death – and a lot of it was through cancer, and I do blame the Maralinga fallout.”
Aunty Martha – Arabana (Lake Eyre) Contact us at: email@example.com
Tony Abbott’s ambition to become the “Prime Minister for Aboriginal affairs” doesn’t align with his position on climate change, with First Nations communities the most vulnerable to the disastrous effects of global warming, according to a young Bundjalung environment warrior.
Abbott drew condemnation last week after he dodged a United Nations climate change summit attended by 120 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama. Abbott jetted into New York a day later to attend UN Security Council talks on the situation in Iraq and Syria, and Western responses to militant Sunni group the Islamic State.
In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Abbott fudged on the threat to the world posed by climate change, instead elevating the “murderous rage” of the Islamic State, the “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the situation of the world’s economies above it.
It came in the same week President Obama labelled climate change a greater threat to the world than terror and pointed the finger at Abbott and other heads of state absent at the talks, pointedly noting “no-one gets a pass”.
Abbott also came under fire earlier this year for taking climate change off the agenda at key G20 talks in Brisbane in November, despite the issue being on the agenda of the past three G20 meetings, which bring together the heads of the world’s 20 leading economies.
While Abbott claims to be a champion of Aboriginal rights, 20-year-old Bundjalung climate change activist Amelia Telford says the Abbott government needs to understand the situation facing First Nations communities, many of whom will be most adversely impacted by the effects of climate change.
“Abbott hasn’t connected the dots,” Ms Telford told New Matilda.
“The government is taking us backwards compared with the rest of the world. We are living in a country where Indigenous people have barely contributed to what is causing climate change….
“(But) the most vulnerable communities within Australia – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – are going to be impacted more than any other community and we need our government to recognise that.
“We aren’t seeing that leadership and so there is an opportunity to stand up for ourselves and begin a movement lead by our people.”
Ms Telford was speaking ahead of a historic summit organised by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, which will bring together 50 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth from around the country to talk about climate change. Dubbed the ‘Seed summit’, it will kick off in Melbourne this weekend.
While Aboriginal youth have largely been voiceless in climate change talks and activism, Ms Telford says it is critical our young people are at the forefront. She says it’s been hard to raise awareness because of the dire social issues afflicting First Nations youth, and the influence of the fossil fuels industry within First Nations communities.
“We know that Indigenous people across Australia have been looking after our lands for tens of thousands of years and it gives us hope that we can do it again. But there are so many structural issues within our communities so it’s hard for young people to prioritise it.
“… There are more and more of us coming out and talking about climate change, sustainability and caring for country but there are so many things competing for our attention.
“It can be a tricky issue because of the fossil fuel industry and the massive impact and stress of that on our land and culture for decades.”
It becomes hard to advocate for solutions to climate change if you are forced to rely on the mining industry, Ms Telford says.
But she says rather than just targeting government, the Seed summit also hopes to put a declaration to the four leading banks asking them not to invest in coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef.
“We need to get climate change on the agenda of our politicians, but it also involves engaging with business leaders, rather than specifically government,” Ms Telford says.
“… We are calling on the CEOs of the four big Australian banks which are considering whether to fund coal ports on the reef. In this time in politics, where we are not seeing leadership from governments, we have to find ways to counteract that and figure out how we can make a difference.”
Ms Telford says she was surprised at the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth who wanted to get involved in climate change advocacy. The summit received 30 applications within a week of opening registrations.
“The young people are the ones with the most at stake,” Ms Telford says.
“Indigenous youth have to be at that forefront and the great thing is we are backed by thousands of young people all across the country.
“Knowing we are a part of that movement is pretty great.”
Quebec and Labrador First Nations draw the line against uranium By: Henry Lazenby 27 Sep 2014 TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – At a workshop on uranium development hosted by the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) on Friday, First Nations from across the region reaffirmed their opposition to uranium development on their territories and throughout Quebec.
In March 2013, the AFNQL passed a resolution inviting its members to voice their opposition to uranium development and to declare a blanket rejection of the uranium exploration and exploitation on all First Nation territories. This followed a resolution adopted by the Grand Council of the Crees in August 2012 declaring a permanent moratorium on uranium development in Cree territory.
“The exploration and exploitation of uranium constitute major and irreversible threats to our population, our territories and the resources they contain. As First Nations, we have a sacred duty to protect our territories and ensure the sustainable development of our natural resources,” Timiskaming First Nation Chief Terence McBride said.
“Our experience here today has clearly demonstrated that the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador are united in our opposition to uranium development in our territories. We strongly encourage all the First Nations and citizens in Quebec to clearly and publicly express their opposition to uranium development,” Cree Nation Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come added.
In March 2013, Quebec’s Minister of the Environment announced a moratorium on uranium exploration or mining permits until the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) had completed hearings on the uranium industry in Quebec and provided recommendations to the Minister. The BAPE’S mandate began in May.
This week, the BAPE completed the second phase of its inquiry, during which it heard from various ministries, experts and industry representatives on a number of topics relating to uranium and its associated risks. The third phase of the BAPE hearings were scheduled to start in November, at which time members of the public would have the opportunity to make oral and written submissions to the BAPE.
Anyone wishing to make submissions must file a notice of intention, available on the BAPE website, by October 16.
AUDIO: Maralinga: Australia’s experience of nuclear testing http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4082110.htm ABC Radio p.m Mark Colvin reported this story on Friday, September 5, 2014 DAVID MARK: It happened in the 1950s. But the truth about a series of nuclear tests in which Britain let off atomic bombs at Maralinga in the South Australian desert only started to emerge in the ’70s.
Even now, there are still survivors demanding justice. Many are now dead, but there are still fears about the effects of the big doses of radiation they absorbed having on their children and even their grandchildren.
The journalist Frank Walker has written a book about Maralinga and he told Mark Colvin about what Australian servicemen actually experienced at the test site. …………
British scientists came over in their white overcoats and the helmets and the oxygen tanks – the whole thing – while the RAAF blokes stood there in their regular flying gear wondering what the hell was going on…….
FRANK WALKER: The British scientists wouldn’t do a lot of things that they said the Australian servicemen had to do, such as drive the heavy vehicles into the red hot zone and pick up the scientific equipment and bring it back to them.
What the British wanted to know was could a nation survive an atomic war? In other words, if Britain was caught in an atomic war, they – obviously bombs would fall on London, Manchester, all the big industrial cities – but what would – could Britain survive? Could they grow food? Could the people survive? Would the children grow up to be adults?
This was what they wanted to know and this was why the instructions were to have men positioned at certain distances from the blast to see whether they could function afterwards.
MARK COLVIN: Now we’ve talked a bit about the servicemen, but we haven’t talked about the traditional owners of the land. What happened to them? FRANK WALKER: They were treated absolutely abominably. First of all, they were just totally disregarded. They had no knowledge of whether Aborigines used Maralinga as a traditional hunting area and when it turned out they did, that this was actually a – many songlines went through this territory, that they would walk through this territory from waterhole to waterhole. They knew this land very well. They were – they tried to keep them out.
They had one sort of patrol bloke who knew the outback very well. He was a bushman, a bloke by the name of MacDougall, very interesting character. He had a job of trying to keep Aborigines out of an area that’s about a million square kilometres.
MARK COLVIN: One bloke.
FRANK WALKER: One bloke.
MARK COLVIN: So, we will probably never know if any Aborigines were killed in the actual blast?
FRANK WALKER: I believe they were. I believe – there were several accounts that came up before the atomic royal commission in the 1980s where soldiers, where lower ranks described finding corpses in the Maralinga area. Certainly we know that some did come through the area and were found alive and they tried to decontaminate them and so on.
But the accounts of corpses being found in some of the craters and in trails near the test sites were – could not be proven. It ended up being the junior blokes, junior ranks would say, “We saw it. We saw them bulldoze the bodies.” The senior ranks would come along and say, “No, it never happened.”…..FRANK WALKER: I think both governments are extremely liable. The Australian Government at the time, at the very best, turned a blind eye to what was going on. The British Government was running the show and they were quite content in they treated Australia as though it were just do whatever they wanted and, under Menzies, the government did………
the only sensible thing to do is to STOP MAKING RADIOACTIVE TRASH
Red Wing officials disappointed in feds’ decision on spent nuclear fuel, MINN POST, By Joe Kimball | 09/03/14 Red Wing city officials and leaders of the Prairie Island Indian Community say they are unhappy with a recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruling that does little to resolve the ongoing dispute over storage of spent nuclear fuel.
The Prairie Island nuclear power plant is on the Mississippi River in Red Wing, and is adjacent to the Indian reservation.
A story in the Rochester Post Bulletin says the NRC ruling:
“…opens the door for on-site nuclear waste storage for 100 years or more. The language also lifts a suspension on licensing additional nuclear facilities even without the creation of a national repository for nuclear waste.”
Not good, says Red Wing City Council member Peggy Rehder, who has lobbied in Washington, D.C., on the issue, and wasn’t surprised with the ruling……
And Ron Johnson, president of the Prairie Island Indian Community’s Tribal Council, said in a statement:
“…the NRC affirmed a new rule and generic environmental impact statement that concluded that spent nuclear fuel — some of the most dangerous and toxic substances known to mankind — can be safely stored 600 yards from our homes indefinitely if no geologic repository is ever built. No other community sits as close to a nuclear site and its waste storage.”
According to the paper, Xcel Energy says it has “38 casks containing nuclear waste near Red Wing and is permitted to store waste in 64 casks when the current operating licenses end in 2033 and 2034.” http://www.minnpost.com/political-agenda/2014/09/red-wing-officials-disappointed-feds-decision-spent-nuclear-fuel
With uranium poisoning wells, Navajos must drive miles to get drinking water
BUT MANY WHO ARE CONSTRICTED BY CIRCUMSTANCE STILL USE CONTAMINATED SUPPLIES
Brandon Loomis, The Republic | azcentral.com Uranium’s deadly flow 11 Aug 14
THE NAVAJO NATION ESTIMATES THAT 54,000 NAVAJOS HAUL WATER FROM UNREGULATED WELLS AND STOCK PONDS NUMBERING IN THE LOW THOUSANDS. “……….Twice a week, the Yazzies, 57-year-old Milton and 83-year-old Della, come down off their lonely hill on the Navajo Reservation’s western side and point themselves toward the city for the clean water they need to keep living. For ages, they drank from a well less than a mile from their home. Then they learned that poison lurked there.Uranium is gurgling up all over Navajo country.
At least three Yazzies have died of kidney ailments, a common result of chronic exposure to uranium. Federal environmental officials warned against drinking more. Milton learned to conserve, using an outhouse across their driveway and leaving the tank-supplied indoor plumbing to Della, because of her failing eyesight.
He begged the tribe, the feds, anyone who would listen, to build a pipeline through the sparsely populated Black Falls area, southeast of Cameron.
“I’ve been working so hard all these years to get good drinking water,” he said, “and it never came.”
Though they live out of anyone’s sight, the Yazzies are far from alone in their hardship……….http://www.azcentral.com/longform/news/arizona/investigations/2014/08/05/uranium-mining-poison-wells-safe-drinking-water/13635345/
Uranium mining on Navajo Reservation: How we did this The Republic | azcentral.com August 10, 2014 Uranium mining for America’s Cold War nuclear arms buildup has proved a lasting scourge on the nation’s largest American Indian reservation, and one that the same government that demanded the ore has been slow to address.
As the last of the sickened Navajo miners are stricken with lung diseases, younger generations are coping with kidney disease and other ailments, wondering whether the radioactive wastes have also sickened them. Meanwhile, hundreds of abandoned mines remain hazards with a cleanup cost that will stretch into the billions of dollars. Photographer David Wallace first took an interest in the problem in 2010 while on assignment documenting solar-energy installations at off-the-grid homes on the Navajo Reservation. He heard of sick miners and residents, and in 2013 began contacting activists with Forgotten People, a Navajo social-justice group.
Later that year, Wallace began visiting the homes of a sick miner and some families who had long histories of exposure to uranium-contaminated water. In January 2014, environment reporter Brandon Loomis joined the project and the two made periodic daylong visits to homes and mines in the Cameron, Gray Mountain and Black Falls areas north of Flagstaff — a quadrant of the reservation that was heavily mined and remains hazardous to many residents……….
U.S. and Navajo officials say both momentum and funding are building to enable a thorough cleanup. At the current rate of progress, though, still more generations of Navajos will face threats from hundreds of abandoned mines in the decades to come.
Wallace is a two-time runner-up for the Arizona Press Club Photographer of the Year award and a two-time regional Emmy winner for his videos.
How to reach Wallace
Loomis is an environment reporter with more than two decades of experience covering land and water issues in the West. He joined The Arizona Republic in 2012 after similar assignments at newspapers in Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah, and is now on a nine-month fellowship with Marquette University.
How to reach Loomis
Study may help explain link between uranium exposure and skin cancer http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-08-link-uranium-exposure-skin-cancer.html After years of delving deep into DNA and researching ways in which metal damage may lead to cancer, a team of researchers is taking a step back to look at the surface where one answer may have been all along. The varying health risks from exposure to natural uranium are well established, but Diane Stearns, professor of biochemistry at Northern Arizona University, and her team have been trying to determine if there is a link between uranium exposure and skin cancer, stating that skin may have been overlooked in the past.
In a recent article published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, the NAU team shared results from a study that explored photoactivation of uranium as a means to increase its toxicity and ability to damage DNA.
“Our hypothesis is that if uranium is photoactivated by UV radiation it could be more harmful to skin than either exposure alone,” Stearns said.
Through the study, the team found that once uranium was present in the skin, exposure to UV radiation or sunlight could be chemically toxic and lead to cancerous lesions. The team members recommend that future risk assessments regarding cancer caused by uranium exposure include the possibility of photoactivation in skin.
They also propose that photoactivated uranium exposure could be even more harmful in cells that can’t repair the damage on their own. Stearns explained such cases are found in individuals with Xeroderma Pigmentosum or XP, a disease that causes extreme sensitivity to sunlight.
Through research into the XP cell lines, the team discovered regional relevance for the study. The disease is prevalent on the Navajo Nation, a site of historically high levels ofuranium mining and processing in the Southwest. The 2012 documentary Sun Kissed further piqued the researchers’ curiosity. The film cites the incidence of XP in the general population as one in 1 million, yet cases increase significantly to one in 30,000 in the Navajo population.
Stearns believes there may be implications that should be taken into consideration for a population like the Navajo community with carriers of XP mutations and relatively high exposure to uranium and the sun.
“We just want to make people aware that uranium exposure could contribute to skin cancer and could also be exacerbating XP,” Stearns said.
Stearns said as she looks to the future, she hopes to fine-tune her understanding of the photoactivation mechanism and how it is damaging DNA. “We have predicted the link but now we would like to study it step by step to establish an even stronger connection.”
Together with her Navajo students at NAU, she also hopes to determine whether the old uranium mines might explain the increase in cancer and what is being called a sudden emergence of XP on the Navajo Nation.
“I’ve had several Navajo students come to me because they found out I was doing uranium research and they had a relative who died of cancer and always wondered if it was uranium,” Stearns said. “It’s been a really personal way for them to see the value in scientific research because it can directly relate to their community.”
Well, for a few weeks, the Australian media has been happily occupied titillating us all with matters legal – the court cases of Oscar Pistorius and of Rolf Harris.
Meanwhile barely noted by the media, a 7 year legal battle was over this week – one that has far more significance for all Australians. And especially for indigenous Australians.
The Aboriginal Traditional Landowners of the Muckaty station area, (Northern Territory) fought against nuclear waste dumping on their land, and following the last weeks of this case, that plan has been scrapped. It has been a very unequal fight, yet those proud indigenous people have won out, against the legal forces of the Australian Government, and the Northern Land Council, which first signed up to the dump plan.
Background. The global nuclear lobby is happy to have a research reactor at Lucas Heights, in Sydney. This reactor was envisaged, way back, after World War 2 as part of a push to get a nuclear bomb. It remains there as a way in for the nuclear industry in Australia. The medical isotope production was tacked on later – to make the reactor look more respectable, but medical isotopes can be made in alternative ways. Australia sent the high level nuclear reactor wastes overseas is legally bound to take them back.
2004 The Australian government first attempted to site a nuclear waste dump in South Australia, but South Australia resisted this and won. A Territory has less power and that is why the Government targeted the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory Government passed the Nuclear Waste Transport , Storage and Disposal Prohibition Act 2004
2005 . A government expert team investigated and selected 3 sites suitable for burial of the returned high level nuclear wastes. All of these sites were on Commonwealth land. The Muckaty area, which is seismically risky, as well as being on Aboriginal land, was not selected. Nevertheless, the Howard Liberal government passed a draconian Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 , over-riding environmental and Aboriginal heritage laws, and State and Territory laws and selecting Muckaty for the site
2010. The Labor government repealed that Act in 2010, and promptly replaced it with an equally draconion Radioactive Waste Management Act 2010.
The medical waste deception. The argument that a Northern Territory waste dump is needed for medical wastes is disingenuous. “Waste from nuclear medicine procedures, the majority of which is for diagnostic services rather than treatment, is low level and short term waste can be stored on site and safely disposed of locally. The small amount of higher level waste from nuclear medicine can also be stored locally, as it is currently” -Public Health Association of Australia,
The future. The relatively small amount of high level waste from the Lucas Heights reactor could be stored at Lucas Heights, and the reactor could be shut down, to stop further toxic production. The Australian government, lik ethe rest of the world, does not know where to put the ever accumulating collection of radioactive trash.
My bet is that our not very bright, and totally unethical government will try it on Aboriginal people again – with blackmail or bribes – ‘whatever it takes’.
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- marketing of nuclear
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- 2 WORLD
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- Christina's notes
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