nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Climate change forcing indigenous peoples from their homelands

“You’re talking about communities that have been in place for generations, and live off the land and the waters, and they are seeing and experiencing the changes first and foremost,”

Climate Change Forces Northwest Natives From Their Ancestral Homes,Truth Out  March 24, 2017By Zoe Loftus-FarrenEarth Island Journal Fawn Sharp grew up in Taholah village, a small community on the Quinault Reservation nestled between the mouth of the Quinault River and the Pacific Ocean. She spent her childhood summers surrounded by water, splashing in Lake Quinault on the eastern edge of the reservation, and hiking along the local beaches near the village, scouring the rocks for starfish and other treasures. In the mornings, she was often up before the sun, out fishing with her grandparents on the river.

Decades after she left home for college, Sharp is back on the reservation, this time living near the lake, some 35 miles from her childhood home in Taholah. Now she goes by President Sharp, and leads both the Quinault Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

Since returning, Sharp has faced the kinds of tough issues that might have seemed outlandish, or even inconceivable, during her childhood. She’s seen the tribe’s salmon runs in sharp decline. She’s observed the rapid retreat of nearby glaciers. And she’s watched her childhood home, Taholah, endure dangerous flooding during increasingly harsh storm surges. Continue reading

March 27, 2017 Posted by | climate change, indigenous issues | Leave a comment

USA govt and media ignore huge indigenous rally

Silence:Largest march for native rights in DC ignored by the White House and mainstream media http://americanindiansandfriends.com/main-feed-news/silence [Excellent photos]  – See more at: http://americanindiansandfriends.com/main-feed-news/silence#sthash.inDWHgGX.dpuf The White House didn’t comment nor answer to the tribe’s request. There were a few mainstream Media sources that relayed the event, but the most important information was from social media sites, Twitter and Facebook.

Native American tribes and their supporters headed to the US capital for four days of demonstrations against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline and to raise awareness of other issues affecting Native Americans.

Activists from indigenous tribes from across America had set up a teepee encampment next to the Washington Monument, before marching on Trump Tower and the White House

The protests follow a year-long battle by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmentalists against the construction of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline and the desecration of tribal lands.

The Washington DC protests, organised by Standing Rock along with the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Native Organisers Alliance, have asked the Government to require tribal consent when considering major infrastructure projects crossing through their lands.

But there was silence

-Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network,said: “Our plan here is to really be a central hub for a lot of information of ongoing issues going on across quote-on-quote Indian country.
– See more at: http://americanindiansandfriends.com/main-feed-news/silence#sthash.inDWHgGX.dpuf
”This is also a space for a lot of tribal representatives, frontline grassroots leaders to do some workshops, presentations about issues that are affecting their land, their homelands, their peoples and just to be a hub to really organise and celebrate.”

The White House did not comment.
– See more at: http://americanindiansandfriends.com/main-feed-news/silence#sthash.inDWHgGX.dpuf

March 15, 2017 Posted by | indigenous issues, media, USA | Leave a comment

Thorough research to be done on uranium health effects on Navajo Nation

Mothers, Babies on Navajo Nation Exposed to High Levels of Uranium https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/health-wellness/mothers-babies-navajo-nation-exposed-high-levels-uranium/ Navajo Birth Cohort Study figuring out how exposure affects health  • December 20, 2016

Researchers with the Navajo Birth Cohort Study aren’t looking for simple answers about how uranium exposure affects health. We already know—and have known for decades—that contact with uranium can cause kidney disease and lung cancer.

This study is the first to look at what chronic, long-term exposure from all possible sources of uranium contamination—air, water, plants, wildlife, livestock and land—does down through the generations in a Native American community.

Since the study began in 2012, over 750 families have enrolled and 600 babies have been born to those families, said Dr. Johnnye Lewis, director of the Community Environmental Health Program & Center for Native Environmental Health Equity Research at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and NBCS principal investigator.

We’re collecting a huge amount of data,” Lewis said. “At this point … all of our results are preliminary, [but] what we do know is that if we look at uranium in urine in the Navajo participants we see higher concentrations than we would expect based on the U.S. population as a whole… [In babies,] we are seeing a trend that uranium levels in urine increase over the first year.”

The Navajo Nation overlies some of the largest uranium deposits in the U.S. Between 1944 and 1986, miners extracted nearly 30 million tons of uranium from Navajo Nation lands. Navajo miners did not have protective suits or masks; they took their work clothes home for laundering; they and other community members used rocks from the mines to build their homes.

When the Cold War ended, most of the uranium mines on Navajo were abandoned—not covered, or sealed, or remediated, just left as they were with waste piles exposed to wind and rain and accessible to anyone, including children.

Today, more than 500 open abandoned uranium mines are spread across the Navajo Nation and uranium dust, particles and radiation continue to be released into the environment.

The questions the NBCS seeks to answer are complex. Uranium does not exist in isolation at the mine sites, so the study is looking at 36 different metals associated with uranium. “We do that because when you look at uranium waste, it’s not just uranium that’s in the waste,” said Lewis. “None of the variables that we look at, none of the causes or the outcomes that we look at are on-off binary sort of things. What we look at is as concentrations of uranium or other metals changes, can we see changes in responses?”

Researchers have also been alarmed by the findings that levels of iodine and zinc are lower than they should be in the study group. Iodine levels are about 40 percent below the World Health Organization sufficiency level, and 61 percent of the mothers in the study have zinc levels below the WHO sufficiency level. “Iodine deficiencies [are] very, very important because iodine is really critical for normal organ development and neurodevelopment,” said Lewis. “And we worry about zinc because we have some evidence that it may be involved in the repair process when you have exposure to some of the metals that we look at. [A lack of zinc] actually inhibits the body’s ability to fix damage to DNA.”

Documenting these deficiencies would make the NBCS worthwhile “even if we learn there are absolutely no [long-term health] effects from uranium,” Lewis said. “Whatever we find out is going to be important.”

Two other endeavors resulting from the study are already in the works, and both will be hugely important to the well-being of Navajo families in the future.

The project has just won Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program funding from the National Institutes of Health. The project is looking at kids all across the U.S. to try to understand how their environment influences their health. It will eventually include 50,000 children and at least two cohorts will be from Native American communities, Lewis said. “We’re just really pleased that they’re including Native Americans.”

The Centers for Disease Control funding for the NBCS only allows families to be followed for up to one year. This new funding, which extends over 5 years after a 2-year initial period, will allow the researchers to go back and look again at each child on an annual basis and do much more detailed developmental assessments. In the process, they will be able to develop an assessment that takes into account Navajo parenting styles and create an instrument that is valid specifically for Navajo children, unlike standardized developmental assessments that are devised based primarily on the dominant culture’s parenting practices.

To accomplish that, “we put together a clinical team that is going to be training our Navajo staff to deliver these developmental assessments. It will be a long process of working together. They’ll be trained and then they will shadow the clinical team so that they get a lot more experience off Navajo before ever coming back here and then when they come back they’ll each be partnered with either a neurodevelopmental expert or psychometrician … who will be hired through the program. They will initially shadow them and then be shadowed by them to ensure that we have consistency.

“So at the end of seven years what we’re going to have is a really great team of professional evaluators who will be staying on Navajo and who will provide that new service” to Navajo families, Lewis said.

The NBCS is a collaborative effort of the University of New Mexico’s DiNEH Project, Center for Disease Control/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (CDC/ATSDR), Navajo Area Indian Health Service, and the Navajo Nation Division of Health, and the Southwest Research and Information Center.

Women between the ages of 14 and 45 who have lived on the Navajo Nation for five years, are pregnant and will deliver their babies at hospitals in Chinle, Gallup, Shiprock, Ft. Defiance and Tuba City are eligible to participate in the study. Call 1-877-545-6775 for information.

 

March 13, 2017 Posted by | health, indigenous issues, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Indigenous people must have final say about their land – Pope Francis

Pope says indigenous people must have final say about their land  Francis echoes growing body of international law and standards on the right to ‘prior and informed consent’, Guardian, , 21 Feb 17, In the 15th century papal bulls promoted and provided legal justification for the conquest and theft of indigenous peoples’ lands and resources worldwide – the consequences of which are still being felt today. The right to conquest in one such bull, the Romanus Pontifex, issued in the 1450s when Nicholas V was the Pope, was granted in perpetuity.

How times have changed. Last week, over 560 years later, Francis, the first Pope from Latin America, struck a rather different note – for indigenous peoples around the world, for land rights, for better environmental stewardship. He said publicly that indigenous peoples have the right to “prior and informed consent.” In other words, nothing should happen on – or impact – their land, territories and resources unless they agree to it.

“I believe that the central issue is how to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories,” said Francis, according to an English version of his speech released by the Vatican’s press office.

“This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth,” Francis went on. “In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail, as foreseen in Article 32 of the [UN] Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”

Francis was speaking to numerous indigenous representatives in Rome at the conclusion of the third Indigenous Peoples’ Forum held by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development…….. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/andes-to-the-amazon/2017/feb/20/pope-indigenous-people-final-say-land

February 22, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, indigenous issues, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Thirty years later, Blackfoot tribes see environmental win on sacred grounds

U.S. officials on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the final two oil and gas leases in a wilderness area bordering Glacier National Park that’s sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of Montana and Canada. Christian Science Monitor, Matthew Brown Associated Press JANUARY 10, 2017 U.S. officials on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the final two oil and gas leases in a wilderness area bordering Glacier National Park that’s sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of Montana and Canada, more than three decades after the tribes said the leases were illegally sold…….http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2017/0110/Thirty-years-later-Blackfoot-tribes-see-environmental-win-on-sacred-grounds

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, USA | Leave a comment

Indigenous leaders excluded from Canada’s climate talks

Indigenous leaders shocked, again, by repeated exclusion from Trudeau’s climate talks, National Observer  December 16th 2016 After excluding them from a critical discussion on indigenous people and climate change earlier this year, both the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) hoped it was a mistake Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not repeat.

December 21, 2016 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues | Leave a comment

A high school protest led to stopping Quebec’s uranium industry

How a high school student helped block Quebec’s uranium industry Financial Post, Damon van der Linde, Dec. 15, 2016, MISTISSINI, Que. — Hunting grouse on a snowy road that cuts through the forest north of his home in the Cree community of Mistissini, Justice Debassige reflects on why, as a 17-year-old high school student in 2012, he started a petition against a uranium exploration project 215 kilometres away.

“I read research on how it damages the land and the water, so that was what drew me in,” he said, while searching for birds down the road towards the now-shuttered site owned by Boucherville, Que.-based Strateco Resources Inc. “It’s something to really think about when we’re out here.”

Debassige said he couldn’t have imagined at the time that his petition would be the catalyst for a complete moratorium against exploration of the radioactive mineral across Quebec, result in a $200-million lawsuit by Strateco Resources against the government and pit the federal nuclear safety agency against a provincial environmental commission.

But it did, and The Matoush Project — named after the Cree family that traditionally use the land for hunting, fishing and trapping — in northern Quebec’s Otish Mountains has lost its glow…….

Debassige and two other classmates collected about 200 signatures from students and staff in opposition to the project, which caught the attention of Shawn Iserhoff, Mistissini’s youth chief at the time. He raised the concerns with the Mistissini Band Council and in the spring of 2012, Strateco arranged two days of hearings in the community………

“The traditional Cree way of life is based on the land,” said Thomas Coon, former president of the Cree Trapper’s Association, in an office that has a map showing how the entire vast territory is covered by family trap lines that are passed down through generations.

“As much as possible we try to avoid any dangerous, damaging project. With uranium, it’s damage that can never be repaired.”…….

As Strateco’s stock plummeted, anti-uranium activism grew in both the Cree and environment organizations. A group of Cree youth garnered media attention in late 2014 by walking 850 kilometres from Mistissini to Montreal and the movement also drew support from the global anti-nuclear activists. ……. the MiningWatch Canada advocacy group argues uranium’s current lack of social acceptability is based on the long-term risks of storing millions of tonnes of the radioactive mining waste.

“If the industry can show that they can handle the waste with a risk factor that is acceptable, maybe the social acceptability will change in the future, but at the moment it’s not there,” said Ugo Lapointe, spokesperson for MiningWatch in Quebec………

Debassige, now 22, won a Nuclear-Free Future Award in 2015 on behalf of the Mistissini youth for his efforts against uranium development on Cree land. Today, bringing home two birds he shot for his family’s dinner, he still doesn’t think the potential economic benefits of uranium mining are worth risking what he and his community already have.

“There’s vast open space where I can possibly one day teach my children what my father taught me: how to survive out on the land,” he said. “We’re connected to the land spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.”

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Leadership of the climate movement – it’s indigenous

Anti-racist solidarities are changing before our eyes at the #NODAPL Standing Rock protest camp. Race formations are morphing into global Indigenous resistance networks.

the resistance by those first and worst impacted – Indigenous peoples – has placed them on the front line, from where we must credit them as leading this struggle on behalf of the living.

We owe them, yet again.

indigenous

The Climate Movement Is Indigenous-led https://newmatilda.com/2016/12/02/the-climate-movement-is-indigenous-led/By  on December 2, 2016  Dr Liz Conor pays tribute to the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Indigenous people the world over who are leading the fight for climate action.

In 1923, Iroquois chief Deskaheh travelled to Geneva to present the grievances of his Six Nations people. Although he was officially ignored, he brought about two seismic shifts on the world stage: He appealed to them as the representative of a sovereign domestic state, and in doing so he forged a shared global identification for all native peoples – Indigenous.

In the decades that followed, growing recognition of shared regimes of oppression in located struggles under the same structure of settler-colonialism (rather than unrelated events) deepened the transnational ties around Indigenous and First Nation as global identifications.

It galvanised around ‘loss of land and subsistence, abrogation of treaties, and the imposition of psychologically and socially destructive assimilation policies’. These classical presentations of what Patrick Wolfe famously called settler colonialism’s ‘logic of elimination’ are presently being enfolded into the resource conflicts that beset the extraction of fossil fuels.

In far-flung but linked sites, Indigenous peoples are fighting, yet again, for their very lives and the land that sustains them. Demands for collective rights to self-determination in international law are being led by increasingly forceful appeals to international bodies to act urgently on their particular exposure – climate change, from rising seas in the Pacific to coastal erosion and flooding in Alaskan villages.

In Australia we’ve seen antagonism between Indigenous ‘stakeholders’ and environmental campaigners, most bitterly over the Queensland Wild River legislation (2005, since repealed). Yet barnstorming alliances have also been formed through the perhaps indelicately named ‘Lock the Gate’ campaign opposing fracking in Gippsland and NSW, between farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous custodians. Lock the Gate is presently advising an Indigenous coalition in the NT on CSG campaigning.

Anti-racist solidarities are increasingly expressed around resource protection and climate change. Very different sovereignties – some summarily seized, others defended, both over centuries – are trying to find common ground under entirely new configurations of anti-racist solidarity.

For those of you who haven’t facebook-checked into the Standing Rock protest camp (with the million who did), the Dakota Access Pipeline is at the moment the foremost instance of alliances against incursion and misappropriation or destruction of Indigenous resources. Over 300 Native American Nations have now converged at the site near Sioux lands at Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

The camp is arguably distinct from the blockades of the environment movement, such as the Franklin River blockade in 1982 and the more recent sustained blockades at the Leard State Forest against the Maules Ck Coal mine. Standing Rock doesn’t identify as part of Naomi Klein’s climate Blockadia, nor do the activists wish to be identified as climate activists first and foremost. Rather their struggle is for water.

The Oceti Sakowin leading the obstruction of boring under the Missouri River and on their sacred land identify as Water Protectors moreso than climate protestors, but the links are drawn in Indigenous media bannered ‘CO2LONIALISM’. In their calls to action against this $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline which will transfer oil across several states and under America’s largest (Ogallala) Aquifier, they have asked global grassroots climate organizations to respect the protest at Standing Rock as Indigenous-led, and to take directives from them.

The resistance by the Oceti Sakowin and other Native American nations is primarily about heritage, water and sovereignty. So far this is largely respected by organisations as diverse as 350.org, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth.

The erasure of Indigenous presence and agency in environmental struggles has been significantly challenged over  the last decade. In amongst today’s coverage, historical continuities are being drawn, the genealogy of treaty perfidies are increasingly written in. The struggle is presented as a continuum of settler-colonial misappropriation and befouling of resources at Standing Rock. It tells us that settler-colonialism is ‘relentlessly active in the present’ and its tenets of expropriation violently enforced by increasingly militarized policing.

Water Protectors have been attacked by the National Guard with rubber bullets, tear gas, mace canisters and water cannons in freezing temperatures leading to dozens of cases of hypothermia. At time of writing, it isn’t clear whether Sophia Wilansky will lose her arm after police threw a concussion grenade directly at her during the face-off on the bridge on Sunday night. Razor wire has been laid on the banks of Cantapeta Creek. The camp is slated to be ‘cleared’ on December 5th.

Expressions of Indigenous pact with the Oceti Sakowin are pouring in from around the world. Australian Aboriginal climate organisations, such as the highly effective SEED (Indigenous youth climate network) and also Palestine artists have pledged support testifying to the global network of dispossessed linking from located sites of resistance.

Israa Suliman, a student and writer in Gaza, penned an open letter that accompanied a video featuring a number of Palestinian artists. She writes, “My ancestors were the indigenous people, just like you. And they suffered the same fate as your people. America’s policy of occupation and displacement through forced marches like the Trail of Tears, and the gradual transfer of so many of your people to massive, impoverished reservations, hurts me deeply because it is so similar to the ethnic cleansing of my ancestors by the Israeli military occupation in what we call al-Nakba (the catastrophe).”

Suliman notes that a large security corporation hired by the pipeline company profits from Israeli prisons. “Like you, we don’t control our natural resources,” Suliman writes. “Just as you were not consulted about the Dakota Access Pipeline that will traverse your land and contaminate your water supply if installed, we are not consulted by Israel, which wants to mine the gas supply in our harbor for its own use and monopolizes the water supply in the West Bank for the green lawns of its own residents – leaving Palestinians parched and dry.” Nor does she fail to draw a parallel to Palestinian expulsion, displacement and occupation, pointing to the five million Palestinian refugees in the global diaspora.

This resource deprivation is perpetrated by multinational fossil fuel conglomerates against Indigenous peoples who are simultaneously defending their homelands while carrying the can for the rest of us on the front line of the climate movement. We settlers owe them under new-yet-old sets of circumstances.

Anti-racist solidarities are changing before our eyes at the #NODAPL Standing Rock protest camp. Race formations are morphing into global Indigenous resistance networks. As Wolfe wrote in his essential read Traces of History, “To be effective, anti-racist solidarities should conjoin as wide a range of historical relationships as colonialism itself has created.”

As the well-worn tenets of settler-colonialism’s land and resource expropriation are rewritten because of its assault on the norms of climate our lives depend on, the resistance by those first and worst impacted – Indigenous peoples – has placed them on the front line, from where we must credit them as leading this struggle on behalf of the living.

We owe them, yet again.

December 5, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, indigenous issues | Leave a comment

Indigenous forum addresses horrors of nuclear legacy in USA

waste on indigenousNuclear Standoff, CounterPunch,  OCTOBER 14, 2016 “…….This week, as if in sync with the Marshall Islanders, a group called the Native Community Action Council convened the Native American Forum on Nuclear Issues, addressing half a century of lingering horror at another nuclear testing site, in Nevada. The forum addressed such issues as abandoned uranium mines and the proposed high-level nuclear waste disposal site under Yucca Mountain, “in the heart of the Western Shoshone Nation (and) a sacred site for Shoshone and Paiute peoples,” according to the organization’s press release.

“Because of U.S. nuclear testing in Nevada, the Western Shoshone Nation is already the most bombed nation on earth’” the release continues. “They suffer from widespread cancer, leukemia, and other diseases as a result of fallout from more than 1,000 atomic explosions on their territory.”

This is the reality we ignore. We’ve been ignoring it for the last 70 years and, indeed, much longer. We’ve reached the end of our ability to treat the planet, and much of its people, as disposable. Much of humanity knows this, but its leaders are refusing to listen. The human conscience is dismissed on a technicality. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/14/nuclear-standoff/

October 15, 2016 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA | Leave a comment

Lord Stern – Indigenous land rights fundamental to climate safety

Indigenous land rights fundamental to climate safety – Lord Stern Climate Home 10/10/2016, 

Forests and grasslands would store more carbon if communities’ rights were protected, according to research from the leading climate economist By Karl Mathiesen

Honouring the land rights of indigenous peoples would lead to a safer climate for everybody, according to leading economist Lord Nicholas Stern.

The world must become “zero net carbon” by 2070-80 if it wants to stay within the 2C limit set by the Paris climate agreement, said Stern, or “much earlier for 1.5C”. But some industries – including aviation – are expected to continue emitting carbon late into the century.

“If there are going to be some that are [carbon] positive,” Stern told an audience at a World Resources Institute (WRI) event in Washington, DC, “there have got to be some that are negative and it’s the forests and the grasslands that are the big potential source there.”

Stern was speaking on Friday at the launch of a WRI study that found that securing indigenous land tenure in Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia could avoid the release of an estimated 42.8–59.7 Mt CO2 per year through avoided deforestation. This is equivalent to taking between 9 and 12.6m cars off the road……….   The argument went beyond the economy and the environment, Stern added. Indigenous peoples in the Amazon and across the world are being dispossessed by development. In some cases, their rights are being considered. A massive dam project in the Brazilian Amazon was suspended in April over concerns about the impact on local tribes.

“We are talking about justice here, we ought to be very clear about that… If you haven’t got those rights, you’re much more vulnerable to outsiders… If you’re vulnerable to outsiders it’s theft. Its solid rights that protect you against that.”http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/10/10/indigenous-land-rights-fundamental-to-climate-safety-lord-stern/

October 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, indigenous issues | Leave a comment

The Ugly Australian Uranium Companies in Africa

uranium-oreflag-AustraliaAfrica Down Under: Tales Of Australian Woe On The ‘Dark Continent’, New Matilda, By  on September 7, 2016 A mining conference underway in Perth states its aim is to help boost the fortunes of one of the poorest regions on earth. But boost the fortunes for whom, asks Dave Sweeney from ACF.

Stories of corruption, dirty dealing and corner cutting are not uncommon in the world of mining and resource extraction, especially in the developing or majority world. It is a tough trade where the high-visibility clothing is often in stark contrast to the lack of transparency surrounding payments and practises.

But as a major industry gathering takes place this week in Perth it is time for a genuine look at whether Australian resource companies are supporting the growth of fledgling democracies or literally undermining them.

No doubt the tall tales will flow along with the cocktails at the Africa Down Under mining conference, an annual event that sees Australian politicians join their African counterparts alongside a melange of miners, merchants and media.

According to the organisers “the ancient land mass of Africa is without question the world’s greatest treasure trove. A new era of joint ventures with juniors and grub-staking is taking place. The action across the continent is taking place hard and fast there could not be a better time to explore the options and hear the stories from the people who are unlocking the wealth of the formerly ‘Dark Continent’.”

While the agenda for conference participants seems clear, the benefits for communities in Africa are less so.

Recent years have seen a marked increase in Australian mining operations and ambitions in Africa with a major increase in the number of Australian mining companies and resource service companies active in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Over a 150 publicly listed companies are operating in more than 30 African nations.

There have been new allegations of Australian companies involved in irregular and illegal practices off-shore, including confirmation that the Australian Federal Police are actively investigating trouble prone Sundance Resources over bribery allegations linked to its Mbalam-Nabeba iron ore project in Congo.

But Sundance is not the only Australian miner generating headlines and heartache. Paladin Energy’scontaminating uranium operations, controversy over Anvil and state repression in Congo, MRC’s exit from its Xolobeni titanium project on South Africa’s Wild Coast following the murder of anti-mining advocateBazooka Rhadebe earlier this year.

The list goes ever on and the details – some of which are documented in a powerful report by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists – are deeply disturbing.

As this decade began, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre expressed the situation clearly stating: “Many Australian companies, particularly mining companies, can have a severe impact on human rights throughout the world, including the right to food, water, health and a clean environment. Despite this, successive governments lack a clear framework of human rights obligations for Australian corporations operating overseas. This is particularly problematic in countries with lax or limited regulations.”……..

Expanding the extractives industry in regions with major governance, capacity and transparency challenges is a concern for communities and civil society groups in both Australia and Africa. The absence of a robust regulatory regime in many African countries can see situations where Australian companies are engaged in activities that would not be acceptable practise at home………

Tracey Davies, a lawyer with the South African-based Centre for Environmental Rights told Fairfax medialast year that there is a widespread and “very strong perception that when Australian mining companies come here they take every advantage of regulatory and compliance monitoring weaknesses, and of the huge disparity in power between themselves and affected communities, and aim to get away with things they wouldn’t even think of trying in Australia”……https://newmatilda.com/2016/09/07/africa-down-under-tales-of-australia-woe-on-the-dark-continent/

September 9, 2016 Posted by | AFRICA, AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Uranium | Leave a comment

Indigenous people battle against uranium mining in Grand Canyon watershed

nuke-indigenousGrand Canyon tribe fears for its future amid battle against uranium mining  Conservationists and other campaigners are urging President Obama to designate 1.7 million acres of the Canyon watershed a national monument before he leaves office, Independent Tim Walker Arizona  @timwalker  30 August 2016  “…….First mined for copper at the turn of the 20th Century, the Orphan Mine became a source of uranium to supply the nuclear arms race in the 1950s. It was closed in 1969, but not before contaminating the water in nearby Horn Creek with enough uranium that passing hikers are warned not to drink it. The US National Park Service has already spent millions on a clean-up effort that is still in its early stages. “It proves not everything you dig up can be covered again,” says Kaska, a member of the Havasupai tribe.

The Havasupai, whose name means “people of the blue-green water”, have lived in the Canyon for at least 800 years. The tribe, who today number fewer than 700, rely for their income on the tourists – some 20,000 per year – who visit their reservation to see its strikingly beautiful blue-green waterfalls. But now they fear their lives and livelihoods could be endangered by another uranium mine being drilled nearby.

Canyon Mine sits far from the tourist attractions of the Grand Canyon, six miles to the south in a quiet, 15-acre patch of the Kaibab National Forest. But it is close to Red Butte, a Havasupai sacred site – and, more perilously, it threatens to affect the tribe’s water. The aquifer under the mine flows into Havasupai Springs, their sole water source…

Now, the Havasupai, the Navajo and the Grand Canyon Trust are all part of a coalition of tribes, conservationists and other campaigners hoping to persuade President Obama to create a national monument that would permanently protect the Grand Canyon watershed from any further uranium mining.

Since taking office, Obama has created or enlarged 26 national monuments, protecting almost 550 million acres of federal land and water – at least twice as much as any of his predecessors. Last week, under the US Antiquities Act, he created the largest protected area on Earth, expanding a national marine monument around Hawaii to 582,578 square miles……..http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/grand-canyon-tribe-uranium-mining-obama-national-monument-a7215776.html

September 5, 2016 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium | Leave a comment

Australian uranium company meets stiff opposition from Inuit, to Greenland mine project

nuke-indigenousGreenland Inuit oppose open-pit uranium mine on Arctic mountain-top http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988016/greenland_inuit_oppose_openpit_uranium_mine_on_arctic_mountaintop.html, Bill Williams ,17th August 2016 

A collapse in the price of uranium has not yet stopped Australian mining company GME from trying to press ahead with a massive open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain in southern Greenland, writes Bill Williams – just returned from the small coastal town of Narsaq where local people and Inuit campaigners are driving the growing resistance to the ruinous project.

As a doctor I routinely get asked for a second opinion, but it is not often that I travel halfway around the world to deliver it.

Recently I was invited to assess an old Danish uranium exploration site in Kvanefjeld in southern Greenland.

Inuit Ataqatigiit – the opposition party in the national parliament – had asked me to talk to local people about the health implications of re-opening the defunct mine.

An Australian firm called Greenland Minerals and Energy (GME) has big plans to extract uranium and rare earth minerals here. It would be a world first: an open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain-top.

From the top of the range above the mine site I looked down across rolling green farmland to the small fishing village of Narsaq. Colourful timber houses rested at the edge of a deep blue strait that the Viking Eric the Red navigated a thousand years ago. Hundreds of icebergs bobbed on its mirror-like surface. To the east, half way up the valley, a small creek tumbled into a deep rock pool.

Behind that saddle lies Lake Tesaq, a pristine Arctic lake that GME plans to fill with nearly a billion tonnes of waste rock. This part of the mine waste would not be the most radioactive, because the company plans to dump this material in a nearby natural basin, with the promise that an ‘impervious’ layer would prevent leaching into the surrounding habitat.

Left behind – all the toxic products of radioactive decay

These mine tailings would contain the majority of the original radioactivity – about 85% in fact – because the miners only want the uranium and the rare earth elements. They would mine and then leave the now highly mobile radioactive contaminants, the progeny from the uranium decay behind: thorium, radium, radon gas, polonium and a horde of other toxins.

Even at very low levels of exposure ionising radiation is recognised as poisonous: responsible for cancer and non-cancer diseases in humans over vast timespans.

This is why my own profession is under growing pressure to reduce exposure of our patients to X-Rays and CT scans in particular – making sure benefit outweighs risk. It’s also why ERA, the proprietors of the Ranger mine in Kakadu, Australia, are legally obliged to isolate the tailings for at least 10,000 years.

While this is hardly possible, the mere fact that it is required highlights the severity and longevity of the risk. My Inuit audience in Narsaq was particularly interested to hear the messages I brought from traditional owners in Australia like Yvonne Margarula, of the Mirarr people:

“The problems always last, but the promises never do.”

And Jeffrey Lee from Koongara:

“I will fight to the end and we will stop it, then it won’t continue on for more uranium here in Kakadu.”

So far in 2016, not a single new nuclear reactor has opened

August 26, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium | 1 Comment

Indigenous Americans still paying the health price of uranium mining, long after mines shut

Years after mining stops, uranium’s legacy lingers on Native land  http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2016/tribal-series/crow-series/years-after-mining-stops-uraniums-legacy-lingers-on-native-land  August 22, 2016 By Brian Bienkowski
Editor’s Note: This story is part of “Sacred Water,” EHN’s ongoing investigation into Native American struggles—and successes—to protect culturally significant water sources on and off the reservation.

nuke-indigenous

CROW AGENCY, Mont.—The Crow are not alone in their struggle with uranium. The toxic metal is irrefutably intertwined with Native Americans, long a notorious national environmental injustice. Some 15,000 abandoned uranium mines with uranium contamination pocket 14 Western states. Of those, 75 percent are on federal and tribal lands, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Contamination is especially concentrated across the Colorado Plateau near the Four Corners region of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, leaving a lasting impact on tribes such as Navajos, Utes, Hopi and Zuni.

The area became saturated with the dangerous metal from the heavy mining fueled by Cold War-era anxieties in the 1940s and ’60s, and the lax cleanup of the 1980s.

Most of the mines were on federal land—managed by the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. But tribes, namely the Navajo, were swept into the uranium-mining boom for both their labor and land and are still dealing with the mess it left.

More than 521 abandoned uranium mines pocket Navajo land alone. Some 90 percent of uranium milling in the United States took place on or just outside the boundaries of Native American reservations, according to a 2015 study.  This left a legacy of dirty water, leftover toxic waste and health problems such as lung cancer and developmental delays for children in many Western tribes.

Such pollution becomes a force multiplier for Native Americans—on the Crow reservation it adds to economic, health and historical burdens, and further complicates the ability to cultivate and sustain their culture.

In the body, most—but not all—uranium is excreted. What remains settles mostly in the kidneys and bones. Excess uranium has been linked to increased cancer risk, liver damage, weakened bone growth, developmental and reproductive problems.

Even at low levels uranium may play a role in some cancers and fertility problems. Studies have shown it acts as an endocrine disruptor, mimicking the hormone estrogen. Hormones are crucial for proper development, and such altering can lead to some cancers and fertility and reproductive problems.

For the Navajo Nation, many men worked in mining or milling, unaware of the risks, and later dealt with various cancers and failing kidneys. In 2000 researchers reported that from 1969 to 1993 Navajo uranium miners had a lung-cancer rate about 29 times that of non-mining Navajos, according to the study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Most of the mining tunnels, pits and waste piles remain on the reservation today near Navajo families. Water, already scarce, remains tainted with uranium and other metals. In one report, researchers found elevated uranium levels in the urine of 27 percent of almost 600 Navajo tribal members tested. The U.S. population as a whole is closer to 5 percent.

The uranium-mining legacy also left contaminated groundwater on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Indians. In Washington state, two mines were shuttered in the 1980s, but more than 30 million tons of radioactive rock and ore remain at the site. Today it is a federal Superfund site. Researchers are now tracking cancer rates on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

“We see a high percentage of wells contaminated with trace elements like uranium in the double digits all over the U.S, but they are certainly more prevalent in Western, more arid areas.”
– Joe Ayotte, USGSThis toxic trail spreads throughout the West. Some uranium mining took place near the Crow Reservation, but naturally occurring levels can infiltrate drinking water wells too. And private wells don’t have the same safeguards of testing and treatment that public water does.

“We see a high percentage of wells contaminated with trace elements like uranium in the double digits all over the U.S, but they are certainly more prevalent in Western, more arid areas,” says Joe Ayotte, chief of groundwater quality studies section for the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS reported 20 percent of untreated water samples from public, private and monitoring wells nationwide contained concentrations of at least one trace element, such as uranium, arsenic and manganese.  Manganese and uranium were found at levels at or above human health standards in 12 percent and 4 percent of wells nationwide, respectively, according to the study.

Like the rest of the country, Montana home wells have historically not been tested for elements such as uranium and manganese, so it’s unclear if Crow is an outlier or the norm for the state.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality does not have regulatory authority over private wells on tribal lands, says Lisa Peterson, an agency spokesperson, adding that they haven’t received any information about contamination on the Crow Reservation.
For questions or feedback about this piece, contact Brian Bienkowski at bbienkowski@ehn.org.

August 24, 2016 Posted by | health, indigenous issues, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s African Methodist Episcopal church speaks out on climate change

text-relevantWorld can’t afford to silence us’: black church leaders address climate climate-change
change

One of the largest and oldest black churches in the US warns that black people are disproportionally harmed by global warming and fossil fuel pollution, Guardian, , 24 July 16, African American religious leaders have added their weight to calls for action on climate change, with one of the largest and oldest black churches in the US warning that black people are disproportionally harmed by global warming and fossil fuel pollution.

The African Methodist Episcopal church has passed its first resolution in its 200-year history devoted to climate change, calling for a swift transition to renewable energy.

“We can move away from the dirty fuels that make us sick and shift toward safe, clean energy like wind and solar that help make every breath our neighbors and families take a healthy one,” states the resolution, which also points to research showing that black children are four times as likely as white children to die from asthma.

 The resolution was passed at the church’s general conference in Philadelphia, where more than 30,000 members gathered. The AME church, the oldest independent Protestant denomination founded by black people in the world, has about 7,000 congregations and 2.5m members.

“Damage to our climate puts the health of children, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses at greater risk and disproportionately impacts African Americans. We believe it is our duty to commit to taking action and promoting solutions that will help make our families and communities healthier and stronger,” stated Bishop John White, president of the council of bishops of the AME church.

The resolution follows an open letter sent by African American clergy last year that called for political leaders to take “bold action to address climate change”……..

Dupont-Walker said that the church’s voter mobilization campaign will work throughout the 2016 election cycle to question candidates on climate change. Local officials and landlords will also be put under pressure over inadequate housing and infrastructure that helps spread pollution to black communities.

According to the NAACP, African Americans emit far less carbon dioxide per person compared with white people and yet will bear the brunt of heat-related deaths, due to the concentration of black people in cities…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/24/african-methodist-episcopal-church-climate-change-letter

July 25, 2016 Posted by | climate change, indigenous issues, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment