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The Shoshone people and nuclear bomb testing

Nuclear tests and the Shoshone people,   https://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/nevada-views-nuclear-tests-and-the-shoshone-people-2063105/   By Ian Zabarte June 27, 2020 -REGARDING Gary Martin’s June 15 Review-Journal article, “Nuke test rumors spur Nevada lawmakers”: As a Shoshone, we always had horses. My grandfather always told me, “Stop kicking up dust.” Now I understand that it was because of the radioactive fallout.

To hide the impacts from nuclear weapons testing, Congress defined Shoshone Indian ponies as “wild horses.” There is no such thing as a wild horse. They are feral horses, but the Wild Horse and Burrow Acts of 1971 gave the Bureau of Land Management the affirmative act to take Shoshone livestock while blaming the Shoshone ranchers for destruction of the range caused by nuclear weapons testing. My livelihood was taken and the Shoshone economy destroyed by the BLM. On the land, radioactive fallout destroyed the delicate high desert flora and fauna, creating huge vulnerabilities where noxious and invasive plant species took hold.

Nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada National Security Site has left a dark legacy of radiation exposure to Americans downwind from the battlefield of the Cold War. Among the victims are the Shoshone people, whom, by no fault of our own, were exposed to radiation in fallout from more than 924 nuclear tests. The Shoshone people never consented to the nuclear weapons testing.

Nuclear testing is a violation of the peace treaty with the Shoshone, the Treaty of Ruby Valley, and the U.S. Constitution, Article 6 Section 2, the treaty supremacy clause. Nothing in the treaty contemplated the secret massacre of Shoshone people with radioactive poison from nuclear weapons testing within our own homelands. My tribe and family are the victims.

The enduring purpose of nuclear technology is the creation of weapons of mass destruction. Their tests within the Shoshone homelands are deliberate acts that destroy the Shoshone people. No Shoshone, not one person, should be sacrificed for the benefit of some Americans and the profit of the military industrial complex.

Nuclear weapons development in Shoshone homelands violates humanitarian law, human rights law and environmental law and is racist. Racism is a crime. It is called genocide, “a crime against humanity.”

To prove intent to commit genocide, we have only to look at the culture of secrecy of the military occupation of Shoshone homelands during and since the Cold War at the test site. The acts committed in nuclear weapons development and testing against the Shoshone people benefit other Americans. The Shoshone people suffer without relief or acknowledgement of our silent sacrifice. Secrecy is not transparent. Secrecy is not democratic and is unconstitutional when the acts are conducted in and upon the Shoshone land and people.

Nothing in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as amended in 1987, considered the fact of Shoshone ownership of the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste repository. Almost $15 billion was spent to characterize the site, giving it the label as, “the most studied piece of real estate in the world.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission admitted in the licensing proceedings that the Department of Energy has not proven ownership.

Nevada took hundreds of millions of dollars for characterization studies from the federal government in grants equal to taxes from Shoshone property and gave nothing to the Shoshone. A clear case of taxation without representation to defraud the Shoshone people of our property interests.

What is needed now are hearings on and support for the extension and funding of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 2019. The Shoshone people need DNA testing and funding for tribal community health education on radiation basics and information on appropriate protective behavior to mitigate radiation exposure.

The Shoshone people are committed to the enforcement of law in the service of justice and human dignity. That is human growth and development, not nuclear weapons.

Ian Zabarte is Principal Man for the Western Bands of the Shoshone Nation of Indians.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Opposition by Saugeen-Ojibway nation brings end to plan for nuclear waste near Lake Huron

Ontario Power Generation Formally Ends Effort To Place Nuclear Storage Site Near Lake Huron, WKAR

By BEN THORP 24  June 20, A Canadian company has officially ended efforts to place an intermediate-level nuclear storage facility along the shore of Lake Huron. The decision comes after the Saugeen-Ojibway nation, on whose land the nuclear site was proposed, voted overwhelmingly against the project.

In letters sent in May, Ontario Power Generation officially withdrew from an environmental assessment of the project and an application for a construction license. Those withdrawals were first reported in the Detroit Free Press.

Fred Kuntz is with OPG. He said after fifteen years the company decided to look elsewhere to build a storage facility.

“You need three things in Ontario for a project like this to proceed. You need good geology, which we had, you need municipal support, which we had, and you need indigenous support. Without that, we couldn’t proceed with the project.”

Kuntz said the company will begin looking for alternate locations. …….

In letters sent in May, Ontario Power Generation officially withdrew from an environmental assessment of the project and an application for a construction license. Those withdrawals were first reported in the Detroit Free Press.

Fred Kuntz is with OPG. He said after fifteen years the company decided to look elsewhere to build a storage facility.

“You need three things in Ontario for a project like this to proceed. You need good geology, which we had, you need municipal support, which we had, and you need indigenous support. Without that, we couldn’t proceed with the project.”

Kuntz said the company will begin looking for alternate locations. …..A second, high-level nuclear storage facility could still be built near Lake Huron. The Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization is considering two possible sites for a facility, one of which is near the lake.

A spokesperson for the organization said the Saugeen-Ojibway vote was not a referendum on their plan

The organization is expected to select a site for the facility by 2023. https://www.wkar.org/post/ontario-power-generation-formally-ends-effort-place-nuclear-storage-site-near-lake-huron#stream/0

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

“Get the Hell Off”: The Indigenous Fight to Stop a Uranium Mine in the Black Hills

An unidentified member of AIM Native American woman sits with her rifle at ready on steps of building in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, March 2, 1973. Indians still have control of town having seized it on Tuesday. Eleven hostages they had taken were finally released. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Get the Hell Off”: The Indigenous Fight to Stop a Uranium Mine in the Black Hills

Can the Lakota win a “paper war” to save their sacred sites?

Mother Jones,  BY DELILAH FRIEDLER; PHOTOS BY DANNY WILCOX FRAZIER, MARCH/APRIL 2020 ISSUE, Regina Brave remembers the moment the first viral picture of her was taken. It was 1973, and 32-year-old Brave had taken up arms in a standoff between federal marshals and militant Indigenous activists in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Brave had been assigned to guard a bunker on the front lines and was holding a rifle when a reporter leaped from a car to snap her photo. She remembers thinking that an image of an armed woman would never make the papers—“It was a man’s world,” she says—but the bespectacled Brave, in a peacoat with hair pulled back,   was on front pages across the country the following Sunday……..

Today, Brave and other Lakota elders are staring down yet another encroachment on their historic lands: a 10,600-acre uranium mine proposed to be built in the Black Hills. The Dewey-Burdock mine would suck up as much as 8,500 gallons of groundwater per minute from the Inyan Kara aquifer to extract as much as 10 million pounds of ore in total. Lakota say the project violates both the 1868 US-Lakota treaty and federal environmental laws by failing to take into account the sacred nature of the site. If the mine is built, they say, burial grounds would be destroyed and the region’s waters permanently tainted.
A legal win for the Lakota would represent an unprecedented victory for a tribe over corporations such as Power­tech, the Canadian-owned firm behind Dewey-­Burdock, that have plundered the resource-rich hills. And it could set precedents forcing federal regulators to protect Indigenous sites and take tribes’ claims more seriously. The fight puts the Lakota on a collision course with the Trump administration, which has close ties to energy companies and is doubling down on nuclear power while fast-tracking new permits and slashing environmental protectionseven using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to further roll back regulations. All of this makes Black Hills mineral deposits more attractive than they’ve been in decades.
For Brave, the Dewey-Burdock mine is just the latest battle in a long war to stop settlers’ affronts to Lakota lands and sovereignty. “They’re taking so much from [the earth] and not giving anything back,” Brave tells me, a hand-rolled cigarette dangling from her fingers. “I’m thinking we should say to them, ‘Get the hell off. Your rent is over.’”
……..
When the gold rush petered out, mining companies pivoted to silver, tungsten, iron, and limestone. In 1951, uranium was discovered. Within 20 years, there were more than 150 uranium mines centered on a small boomtown called Edgemont, in Paha Sapa’s southern foothills, where the Oglala once made their winter camp………
The southern foothills are rocky and quiet, but just north, bikers and families in RVs clog the highways to visit abandoned gold mines, old-timey saloons, and the main attraction, Mount Rushmore, which was carved into a sacred mountain known to the Lakota as the Six Grandfathers. “We call it the Shrine of Hypocrisy,” says Tonia Stands, an Oglala Lakota who has been one of Pine Ridge’s most persistent voices against uranium mining.
For decades, Lakota activists have raised alarms about the risks uranium mining poses to their communities. In 1962, radioactive material seeped from a broken dam into the Cheyenne River, upstream from Pine Ridge. Mining ceased in 1973, but the reservation continues to grapple with epidemic levels of birth defects, cancer, and kidney disease. Today, Pine Ridge has the lowest life expectancy of any US county. The rampant health issues help explain why reservation leaders took swift action to stem the spread of coronavirus before they even confirmed their first case.
While no evidence has definitively linked their health problems to mining, many Lakota believe that uranium contamination is partly to blame, and they point to the Environmental Protection Agency’s settlements in response to the effects of mining in the Navajo Nation, which acknowledged links between high levels of uranium in soil and drinking water and cancer, kidney disease, and reproductive issues on the reservation…….
Stands wears her hair in a single black braid reaching all the way down her back. Her grandmother was a “uranium fighter,” as was her late uncle Wilmer Mesteth, who helped found the Oglalas’ Tribal Historic Preservation Office. In 2010, three years after Powertech began the process of licensing Dewey-Burdock, Mesteth and the tribe filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which oversees uranium mine permitting, to stop construction. They argued that the project was moving forward in violation of their sovereign will as well as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the landmark 1970 law requiring federal agencies to document the impacts of all projects they build or license. According to the tribe and local geologists, Powertech failed to collect enough data to prove that the mine would not contaminate groundwater, and did not adequately assess how it would affect sites of cultural importance. …..
Adding a layer of oddity to the whole situation, Powertech is so far a mining company only on paper. It has never produced an ounce of ore and can only keep litigating as long as investors remain convinced that footing its bills will eventually pay off. Powertech anticipates the mine will net about $150 million, yet it says it’s already sunk $10 million into the NRC license, not including litigation or staffing costs. Its parent company, Azarga Uranium, trades as an underregulated penny stock; investment firm Haywood Securities rates its risk factor as “very high.”…..
 today, Powertech is just one of several companies applying to open new mines, anticipating that an administration bent on deregulation, and the appeal of nuclear power as a climate-friendly energy source, could increase profitability……
Trump’s proposed 2021 budget would allocate $150 million to stock a new reserve with domestically mined uranium. The share prices of US mining companies jumped after the report’s release, while factors related to COVID-19 caused the global price of uranium to surge throughout March and April.
Trump has found other ways to boost mining and energy interests in and around reservations and sacred Native sites.  …..
He’s also waging war on the cornerstone of environmental law: …..
Last August, Brave and a dozen tribal members gathered in a hotel ballroom in Rapid City for the latest hearing in their case. The NRC judges, three white men, sat at one end of the room, a photo of Mount Rushmore at their backs. Having lost their claims about environmental harm, the tribe’s lawyers are still trying to convince regulators that the uranium mine would irreparably damage Lakota burial grounds, places of ceremony, and other sacred sites………
Energy and mining companies are treated “like clients instead of regulated entities,” says Jeff Parsons, one of the tribe’s lawyers. The NRC and its permittees “are in absolute lockstep, opposed to citizen and tribal involvement” in a process designed to protect exactly that.
It’s not just the NRC. After the agency rejected the tribe’s environmental arguments, Parsons filed an appeal with the DC Circuit Court. In 2018, the court agreed that the NRC violated the law by licensing Dewey-­Burdock even after its own review panel found “significant deficiency” in the cultural review. But the court declined to vacate the license, citing Powertech’s lament that its stock price “would plummet.”……
After the hearing, Brave and Stands met in a nearby park with the other Lakota who’d driven from Pine Ridge. Sharing their huge pot of stew with homeless people there, most of the group concurred that their case looked strong. But the judges were unmoved: In December, they ruled that the NRC had satisfied NEPA’s requirement to take a “hard look” simply by making a “reasonable effort,” resolving the last objection to the license. “The system is set up to fail our people,” Stands says.
When Brave was just a kid, her grand­father made her memorize the text of the violated 1868 treaty. That came in handy when tribes and the Army Corps of Engineers, which issues permits for projects that cross waterways, were fighting over the Dakota Access pipeline. “When we were at Standing Rock, they said, ‘This is Army Corps of Engineers land.’ And I said, ‘Bullshit. This is treaty territory. The Army Corps of Engineers is not a country and cannot make a treaty with us. We’re sovereign.’”
For the Lakota, sovereignty means the right to determine for themselves what happens on their lands. ……
A shift from merely consulting tribes to making projects contingent on tribes’ involvement and input, a central tenet of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, would represent a monumental change. Under such a policy, the Keystone XL pipeline would likely be blocked by the tribes whose lands it would cross. In 2019, the state of Washington became the first to require the “free, prior, and informed consent” of recognized tribes on any project that “directly and tangibly affects” their people, lands, or sacred sites. In both federal and state supreme courts, tribes are beginning to win more rulings in favor of their long-­forgotten treaty rights…….
A shift from merely consulting tribes to making projects contingent on tribes’ involvement and input, a central tenet of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, would represent a monumental change. Under such a policy, the Keystone XL pipeline would likely be blocked by the tribes whose lands it would cross. In 2019, the state of Washington became the first to require the “free, prior, and informed consent” of recognized tribes on any project that “directly and tangibly affects” their people, lands, or sacred sites. In both federal and state supreme courts, tribes are beginning to win more rulings in favor of their long-­forgotten treaty rights………..

In October, Brave spoke at Magpie Buffalo Organizing’s inaugural “No Uranium in Treaty Territory” summit, which offered a crash course on tribal sovereignty. The activists are closely tracking the various Keystone XL permits, which the Rosebud Sioux Tribe is challenging in court as a treaty vio­lation. As the threat of both uranium and gold mining looms, there’s talk of occupying land in the Black Hills, as the American Indian Movement did in 1981.

For most of her life, Brave hadn’t understood why her grandfather made her memorize the treaty. It didn’t stop the Black Hills gold rush in the 19th century or the uranium boom in the 20th. Nobody knows how many sacred sites were destroyed—but now there’s a chance to protect those that remain……….
 https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/05/the-black-hills-are-not-for-sale/

May 9, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium, USA | 4 Comments

The lingering horror of the nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga, South Australia

March 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, health, history, indigenous issues, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby attacks Australia’s Nuclear Prohibition laws

Jim Green, Online Opinion, 27 Feb 2020https://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=20758&page=0  

Nuclear power in Australia is prohibited under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999. A review of the EPBC Act is underway and there is a strong push from the nuclear industry to remove the bans. However, federal and state laws banning nuclear power have served Australia well and should be retained.

Too cheap to meter or too expensive to matter? Laws banning nuclear power has saved Australia from the huge costs associated with failed and failing reactor projects in Europe and North America, such as the Westinghouse project in South Carolina that was abandoned after the expenditure of at least A$13.4 billion. The Westinghouse / South Carolina fiasco could so easily have been replicated in any of Australia’s states or territories if not for the legal bans.

There are many other examples of shocking nuclear costs and cost overruns, including:

* The cost of the two reactors under construction in the US state of Georgia has doubled and now stands at A$20.4‒22.6 billion per reactor.

* The cost of the only reactor under construction in France has nearly quadrupled and now stands at A$20.0 billion. It is 10 years behind schedule.

* The cost of the only reactor under construction in Finland has nearly quadrupled and now stands at A$17.7 billion. It is 10 years behind schedule.

* The cost of the four reactors under construction in the United Arab Emirates has increased from A$7.5 billion per reactor to A$10‒12 billion per reactor.

* In the UK, the estimated cost of the only two reactors under construction is A$25.9 billion per reactor. A decade ago, the estimated cost was almost seven times lower. The UK National Audit Office estimates that taxpayer subsidies for the project will amount to A$58 billion, despite earlier government promises that no taxpayer subsidies would be made available.

Nuclear power has clearly priced itself out of the market and will certainly decline over the coming decades. Indeed the nuclear industry is in crisis ‒ as industry insiders and lobbyists freely acknowledge. Westinghouse ‒ the most experienced reactor builder in the world ‒ filed for bankruptcy in 2017 as a result of catastrophic cost overruns on reactor projects. A growing number of countries are phasing out nuclear power, including Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Taiwan and South Korea.

Rising power bills: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because nuclear power could not possibly pass any reasonable economic test. Nuclear power clearly fails the two economic tests set by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Firstly, nuclear power could not possibly be introduced or maintained without huge taxpayer subsidies. Secondly, nuclear power would undoubtedly result in higher electricity prices.

Nuclear waste streams: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because no solution exists to for the safe, long-term management of streams of low-, intermediate- and high-level nuclear wastes. No country has an operating repository for high-level nuclear waste. The United States has a deep underground repository for long-lived intermediate-level waste ‒ the only operating deep underground repository worldwide ‒ but it was closed from 2014‒17 following a chemical explosion in an underground waste barrel. Safety standards and regulatory oversight fell away sharply within the first decade of operation of the U.S. repository ‒ a sobering reminder of the challenge of safely managing dangerous nuclear wastes for tens of thousands of years.

Too dangerous: The Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters results in the evacuation of over half a million people and economic costs in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In addition to the danger of nuclear reactor meltdowns and fires and chemical explosions, there are other dangers. Doubling nuclear output by the middle of the century would require the construction of 800−900 reactors. These reactors not only become military targets but they would produce over one million tonnes of high-level nuclear waste containing enough plutonium to build over one million nuclear weapons.

Pre-deployed terrorist targets: Nuclear power plants have been described as pre-deployed terrorist targets and pose a major security threat. This in turn would likely see an increase in policing and security operations and costs and a commensurate impact on civil liberties and public access to information. Other nations in our region may view Australian nuclear aspirations with suspicion and concern given that many aspects of the technology and knowledge-base are the same as those required for nuclear weapons.

Former US Vice President Al Gore summarised the proliferation problem: “For eight years in the White House, every weapons-proliferation problem we dealt with was connected to a civilian reactor program. And if we ever got to the point where we wanted to use nuclear reactors to back out a lot of coal … then we’d have to put them in so many places we’d run that proliferation risk right off the reasonability scale.”

Too slow: Expanding nuclear power is impractical as a short-term response to climate change. An analysis by Australian economist Prof. John Quiggin concludes that it would be “virtually impossible” to get a nuclear power reactor operating in Australia before 2040. More time would elapse before nuclear power has generated as much as energy as was expended in the construction of the reactor: a University of Sydney report concluded that the energy payback time for nuclear reactors is 6.5‒7 years. Taking into account planning and approvals, construction, and the energy payback time, it would be a quarter of a century or more before nuclear power could even begin to reduce greenhouse emissions in Australia (and then only assuming that nuclear power displaced fossil fuels).

Too thirsty: Nuclear power is extraordinarily thirsty. A single nuclear power reactor consumes 35‒65 million litres of water per day for cooling.

Water consumption of different energy sources (litres / kWh):

* Nuclear 2.5

* Coal 1.9

* Combined Cycle Gas 0.95

* Solar PV 0.11

* Wind 0.004

Climate change and nuclear hazards: Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to threats which are being exacerbated by climate change. These include dwindling and warming water sources, sea-level rise, storm damage, drought, and jelly-fish swarms. Nuclear engineer David Lochbaum states. “I’ve heard many nuclear proponents say that nuclear power is part of the solution to global warming. It needs to be reversed: You need to solve global warming for nuclear plants to survive.”

In January 2019, the Climate Council, comprising Australia’s leading climate scientists and other policy experts, issued a policy statement concluding that nuclear power plants “are not appropriate for Australia – and probably never will be”.

By contrast, the REN21 Renewables 2015: Global Status Report states that renewable energy systems “have unique qualities that make them suitable both for reinforcing the resilience of the wider energy infrastructure and for ensuring the provision of energy services under changing climatic conditions.”

First Nations: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because the pursuit of a nuclear power industry would almost certainly worsen patterns of disempowerment and dispossession that Australia’s First Nations have experienced ‒ and continue to experience ‒ as a result of nuclear and uranium projects.

To give one example (among many), the National Radioactive Waste Management Act dispossesses and disempowers Traditional Owners in many respects: the nomination of a site for a radioactive waste dump is valid even if Aboriginal owners were not consulted and did not give consent; the Act has sections which nullify State or Territory laws that protect archaeological or heritage values, including those which relate to Indigenous traditions; the Act curtails the application of Commonwealth laws including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and the Native Title Act 1993 in the important site-selection stage; and the Native Title Act 1993 is expressly overridden in relation to land acquisition for a radioactive waste dump.

No social license: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because there is no social license to introduce nuclear power to Australia. Opinion polls find that Australians are overwhelmingly opposed to a nuclear power reactor being built in their local vicinity (10‒28% support, 55‒73% opposition); and opinion polls find that support for renewable energy sources far exceeds support for nuclear power (for example a 2015 IPSOS poll found 72‒87% support for solar and wind power but just 26% support for nuclear power). As the Clean Energy Council noted in its submission to the 2019 federal nuclear inquiry, it would require “a minor miracle” to win community support for nuclear power in Australia.

The pursuit of nuclear power would also require bipartisan political consensus at state and federal levels for several decades. Good luck with that. Currently, there is a bipartisan consensus at the federal level to retain the legal ban. The noisy, ultra-conservative rump of the Coalition is lobbying for nuclear power but their push has been rejected by, amongst others, the federal Liberal Party leadership, the Queensland Liberal-National Party, the SA Liberal government, the Tasmanian Liberal government, the NSW Liberal Premier and environment minister, and even ultra-conservatives such as Nationals Senator Matt Canavan.

The future is renewable, not radioactive: Laws banning nuclear power should be retained because the introduction of nuclear power would delay and undermine the development of effective, economic energy and climate policies based on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. A December 2019 report by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator finds that construction costs for nuclear reactors are 2‒8 times higher than costs for wind or solar. Levelised costs for nuclear are 2‒3 times greater per unit of energy produced compared to wind or solar including either 2 hours of battery storage or 6 hours of pumped hydro energy storage.

Australia can do better than fuel higher carbon emissions and unnecessary radioactive risk. We need to embrace the fastest growing global energy sector and become a driver of clean energy thinking and technology and a world leader in renewable energy technology. We can grow the jobs of the future here today. This will provide a just transition for energy sector workers, their families and communities and the certainty to ensure vibrant regional economies and secure sustainable and skilled jobs into the future. Renewable energy is affordable, low risk, clean and popular. Nuclear is not. Our shared energy future is renewable, not radioactive.

More Information

* Don’t Nuke the Climate Australia, www.dont-nuke-the-climate.org.au

* Climate Council, 2019, ‘Nuclear Power Stations are Not Appropriate for Australia – and Probably Never Will Be’, https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/nuclear-power-stations-are-not-appropriate-for-australia-and-probably-never-will-be/

* WISE Nuclear Monitor, 25 June 2016, ‘Nuclear power: No solution to climate change’, https://www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/806/nuclear-power-no-solution-climate-change

Dr. Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia.

February 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, climate change, indigenous issues, water | Leave a comment

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) courts indigenous communities

Indigenous communities courted as nuclear industry looks for place to put used fuel,  February 7, 2020 by Christopher Read  Christopher Read APTN InvestigatesIn what’s referred to as “Canada’s Plan,” the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is looking for a place to bury 4.8 million bundles of used nuclear fuel.

More specifically, the NWMO, which is a consortium of Canadian nuclear industry players created by an act of parliament, is looking for a community willing to allow used nuclear fuel to be placed in what’s called a deep geological repository – or DGR.

Currently the NWMO is engaging with Ignace, Ontario a small community 250 km northwest of Thunder Bay, as well as the municipality of South Bruce, on Lake Huron northwest of Toronto.

Indigenous communities in both those areas are being courted and having the DGR concept pitched to them by the NWMO.

Indigenous engagement is a major focus at the NWMO.

It has put out an eight-part video series on reconciliation, and it also employs Bob Watts as their vice president of Indigenous Relations.

Watts is a long time major player in Indigenous politics who has held high-level positions with the Assembly of First Nations and the federal government………

Fundamentally, a DGR needs to protect radioactive waste from water, because water could potentially bring the deadly radioactive material back into contact with our environment. …….

not everyone is sold on the safety case made by the NWMO.

Gordon Edwards is president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and is likely the nuclear industry’s best known critic in Canada.

Edwards isn’t impressed with the NWMO’s multiple barrier system.

“You can put barrier after barrier after barrier, that doesn’t mean that you have a safe system,” he said. ”The same multiple barrier philosophy is used in nuclear reactors. They say the fuel is inside metal tubes, which are called zirconium, that’s another barrier, it’s called the sheath. And those are inside pressure tubes, which is another barrier. And then that’s inside a calandria, which is another barrier. And that’s inside the reactor building, which is another barrier. Consequently, there cannot be a nuclear accident.

“Well, we’ve seen what happened with that philosophy. Chernobyl exploded and the whole area around Chernobyl is still uninhabitable and will be for at least another hundred years. Fukushima, we’ve had three reactors melting down on the same weekend and those multiple barriers were all in place.”

Edwards said the notion that we can build something to last hundreds of thousands of years, the length of time used nuclear fuel will potentially remain dangerously radioactive – is folly.

“You have to realize that the pyramids of Egypt are only 5,000 years old,” said Edwards. “Go and look at them there. They’re really deteriorated a great deal. So the half-life of plutonium is 24,000 years. The Great Lakes didn’t even exist 24,000 years ago. So we’re talking about periods of time that dwarf the span of human history.”

Edwards said he believes taking a wait-and-see approach is better than putting the used fuel in a DGR.

“We can afford to wait another century or two and see if we can come up with a genuine solution,” he said. “If we can’t come up with a genuine solution, we can continue to look after it. We can continue to transmit the information. We can continue to repackage it periodically into better and better packages, which is going to make sure. And if there is leakage that occurs, failure of containment – we can spring into action right away and fix it and not let it get out of hand. That’s a much better approach.

“This is called rolling stewardship.”………

The NWMO said it hopes to have identified a willing host community for a deep geological repository by 2023.

Nuclear Courtship, Part 2 airs next week, and will be accompanied with a web story which will examine the mood of some of the communities engaging with the nuclear industry.cread@aptn.ca https://aptnnews.ca/2020/02/07/indigenous-communities-courted-as-nuclear-industry-looks-for-place-to-put-used-fuel/

February 10, 2020 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, wastes | Leave a comment

Saugeen Ojibway Nation vote ends company’s plans to store nuclear waste near Lake Huron

Jeremy Ervin, Port Huron Times Herald  Feb. 3, 2020 An Ontario power company has announced it will no longer consider storing nuclear waste underground near Lake Huron. …

The decision came following years of Michigan lawmakers asking Ontario Power Generation to reconsider. It took the vote of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation of Ontario Friday to shift the discussions away from the lake. Of 1,232 ballots cast, 1,058 were against the site and 170 in favor.

We were not consulted when the nuclear industry was established in our Territory,” said a news release on the vote. “Over the past forty years, nuclear power generation in Anishnaabekiing has had many impacts on our Communities, and our Land and Waters, including the production and accumulation of nuclear waste.”

The release said that SON leaders will work with Ontario Power Generation “to find an acceptable solution for the waste.

“We will continue to work with OPG and others in the nuclear industry on developing new solutions for nuclear waste in our Territory,” said Chief Greg Nadjiwon of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. “We know that the waste currently held in above-ground storage at the Bruce site will not go away. SON is committed to developing these solutions with our communities and ensuring Mother Earth is protected for future generations. We will continue to ensure that our People will lead these processes and discussions.” ……….

Site had been sought since 2010

On Jan. 24, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization announced it had signed agreements with landowners east of Lake Huron in South Bruce, Ontario, which would allow land access for studies for the site. …….

In January, southeast Michigan state representatives Gary Howell, R-Lapeer, and Shane Hernandez, R-Port Huron, issued statements against locations near Kincardine and Lake Huron. They said the Kincardine locations are too close to Lake Huron, and expressed concerns about drinking water and public health if something went wrong at the site.

They called on the United States Congress to do everything in its power to stop the development. https://www.thetimesherald.com/story/news/2020/02/03/plans-store-nuclear-waster-near-lake-huron-halted/4587366002/

February 3, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, Syria, wastes | Leave a comment

Indigenous community votes down proposed nuclear waste bunker near Lake Huron,

‘We were not consulted when the nuclear industry was established in our territory’,https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/indigenous-community-votes-down-proposed-nuclear-waste-bunker-near-lake-huron  The Canadian Press, Colin Perkel. February 1, 2020

TORONTO — An Indigenous community has overwhelmingly rejected a proposed underground storage facility for nuclear waste near Lake Huron, likely spelling the end for a multibillion-dollar, politically fraught project years in the making.

After a year of consultations and days of voting, the 4,500-member Saugeen Ojibway Nation announced late Friday that 85 per cent of those casting ballots had said no to accepting a deep geologic repository at the Bruce nuclear power plant near Kincardine, Ont.

“We were not consulted when the nuclear industry was established in our territory,” SON said in a statement. “Over the past 40 years, nuclear power generation in Anishnaabekiing has had many impacts on our communities, and our land and waters.”

The province’s giant utility, Ontario Power Generation, had wanted to build the repository 680 metres underground about 1.2 kilometres from Lake Huron as permanent storage for low and intermediate-level radioactive waste. The project was tentatively approved in May 2015.

In August 2017, then-environment minister Catherine McKenna paused the process to ensure buy-in from Indigenous people in the area
While Kincardine was a “willing host,” the relative proximity of the proposed bunker to the lake sparked a backlash elsewhere in Canada and the United States. Politicians, environmentalists and scores of communities expressed opposition.

Successive federal governments have withheld final approval. In August 2017, then-environment minister Catherine McKenna paused the process — the last in a string of delays for the project — to ensure buy-in from Indigenous people in the area.

The generating company, which insisted the stable bedrock would safely contain the waste, items such as contaminated reactor components and mops, said it respected SON’s decision.

“OPG will explore other options and will engage with key stakeholders to develop an alternate site-selection process,” Ken Hartwick, head of OPG, said in a statement shortly after the vote was announced. “Any new process would include engagement with Indigenous peoples as well as interested municipalities.”

The apparent end of the road for the project comes shortly after the federally-mandated Nuclear Waste Management Organization said it was making progress toward choosing a site for storing millions of far more toxic spent nuclear fuel bundles.

The organization, comprising several nuclear plant operators, said it had struck deals with landowners in South Bruce — about 30 minutes east of Kincardine — that will allow it to begin site tests. The only other site under consideration for high-level waste storage is in Ignace in northern Ontario.

Despite the rejection of OPG’s proposal, the utility said it planned to continue a relationship “based on mutual respect, collaboration and trust” with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which comprises the Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation and the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.

Chippewas of Saugeen Chief Lester Anoquot called the vote — 170 for and 1,058 against — a “historic milestone and momentous victory” for the community.

“We worked for many years for our right to exercise jurisdiction in our territory and the free, prior and informed consent of our people to be recognized,” Anoquot said. “We didn’t ask for this waste to be created and stored in our territory.”

At the same time, Anoquot said, the vote showed the need for a new solution for the hazardous waste, a process he said could take many years.

Ontario depends heavily on nuclear power for its electricity but a permanent storage solution for the increasing amounts of waste now stored above ground has proven elusive. The radioactive material, particular from used fuel, remains highly toxic for centuries.

The utility insists exhaustive science shows a repository in stable and impermeable rock offers the best solution.

“Permanent and safe disposal is the right thing to do for future generations,” Hartwick said.

 

February 3, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Ignoring Aboriginal opposition, Australian government chooses nuclear waste dump site

February 3, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Indigenous tribe, Saugeen Ojibway Nation, has voted down plans for nuclear waste dump near Lake Huron

Hervé Courtois to C.A.N. Coalition Against Nukes, 1 Feb 2020, Members of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) have voted down plans to bury Ontario’s low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste within 1.2 kilometres of Lake Huron….On Friday, 1,232 members of the First Nation band voted. The vote results saw 1,058 ‘no’ votes, with 170 ‘yes’ and 4 spoiled ballots…It means Canada’s first permanent nuclear waste facility will need to be built somewhere else in Ontario…OPG will now have to start searching for a new host community to house over 200,000 cubic metres of low- and intermediate- level nuclear waste…OPG says finding a new site may set the project back 20 to 30 years….https://www.facebook.com/groups/C.A.N.CoalitionAgainstNukes

February 1, 2020 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, wastes | Leave a comment

Opposition to Nuclear Waste Storage Plan Near Lake Huron

February 1, 2020 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, wastes | Leave a comment

Historic vote on nuclear waste underway in Bruce County, Ontario

February 1, 2020 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

White Kimba, Australia, voted “Yes” to a nuclear waste dump, but the traditional Aboriginal owners held a separate ballot, with a “No” result

The Australian government held a “community” vote. in a small outback town, on whether or not they should accept a nuclear waste dump. Not surprisingly, what appeared to be generous financial incentives, particularly for the white landholders who volunteered their land.  Unfortunately the traditional Barngarla Aboriginal owners were excluded from the vote. So they held their own separate vote.
Kim Mavromatis   Fight To Stop A Nuclear Waste Dump In South Australia
KIMBA AND BARNGARLA SEPARATE VOTE COMBINED : “YES” 43.75% .
Scomo’s Fed Govnt Radioactive Nuclear Waste Dumps process excluded Barngarla traditional owners from the Kimba ballot – so Barngarla organized their own independent vote and this is the combined Broad Community Support Yes Vote %.
Barngarla traditional owners and Kimba Farmers Speak out – watch these short films :
“Barngarla Speak Out” : vimeo.com/382855709
“SAVE SA Farmland – Kimba, Eyre Peninsula” : vimeo.com/381938156

January 13, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, politics | Leave a comment

Prairie Island Indian Community – nuclear refugees

December 14, 2019 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA | Leave a comment

Ontario’s First Nations to vote on nuclear waste plan near Lake Huron

December 8, 2019 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues | Leave a comment