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Nuclear waste awareness tour begins

Nuclear waste awareness tour begins   https://www.reformer.com/stories/nuclear-waste-awareness-tour-begins,586462 October 3, 2019

By Susan Smallheer, Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO — Leona Morgan isn’t in Vermont this week for leaf peeping, but for environmental justice.

The Navajo woman from Albuquerque, N.M., is an indigenous community organizer and she wants the people of Vermont and New England what getting rid of the nuclear waste from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant means to her community.

Morgan, along with a group of anti-nuclear activists are touring New England this week to draw attention to what they concede is an oft-forgotten or ignored problem — where does the nuclear waste go?

Pulling a giant wooden mock cask that was built to resemble a cask used to transport — not store — high level radioactive waste, the activists are hoping the large dumbbell-looking prop will prompt discussion of the unsolved issue.

“It’s our job to wake them up,” Deb Katz, the executive director of the Citizens Awareness Network, said of residents.

Morgan said the nuclear industry — whether it is the existing 14,000-acre Waste Control Specialties (WCS) facility in west Texas, or its proposed expansion or a proposed Holtec nuclear storage facility just over the border in New Mexico — was overwhelming the communities in that region.

She said putting nuclear waste in that area, which she said is geologically unstable from a huge amount of oil and gas drilling, is dangerous and racist. The area is already home to the U.S. Department of Energy’s waste isolation pilot plant, which houses government-generated nuclear waste, including low-level plutonium. All those projects, Morgan said, are within 50 miles.

It is a largely Hispanic and Navajo area, she said, and the companies and politicians who are behind the nuclear project are “old, white men.”

“We are specifically targeted,” Morgan said.

The six-day tour has been organized by Citizens Awareness Network, a regional anti-nuclear organization based in Shelburne Falls, Mass. Katz and others made a brief stopover in Brattleboro on Wednesday with its large mock canister, as the group was making its way from the Vermont Law School to Greenfield, Mass., for a rally and concert.

“It is vital that citizens understand the issues and what’s at stake,” said Katz. “Until the criteria of sound science and environmental justice are the drivers behind any disposition, high-level nuclear waste must remain onsite,” she said.

All three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation have supported consolidated interim storage facilities, Katz said. Their support, she said, is based on the desire to get the high-level radioactive waste out of Vermont.

But she said that inherently unfair and short-sighted.

The stalled construction of a national depository at Yucca Mountain outside Las Vegas is still stalled, despite statements by President Donald Trump that he supports it. The project had been suspended during the Obama administration.

“This is an old bad idea,” said Diane D’Arrigo, the radioactive waste project director for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service in Washington, D.C.

Vermont Yankee emptied its spent fuel pool and completed the transfer of its thousands of spent fuel rods — the most dangerous of the radioactive waste — last year into a storage facility on the grounds of Vermont Yankee in Vernon. The fuel is now in large concrete and steel canisters called dry cask storage and will remain there until the federal Department of Energy builds a nuclear waste facility to store it for the thousands of years it remains dangerous. Yucca Mountain was once targeted as that facility.

But the anti-nuclear activists said a new push for interim waste storage facilities in west Texas and eastern New Mexico would be dangerous and that the nuclear fuel “should only be moved once.”

Moving the waste comes with many complications and potential dangers, Katz said, not to mention that thousands of shipments would come from dozens of nuclear power plants that have either shut down or will be shutting down.

The “Environmental Justice and Nuclear Waste Tour” started in Burlington on Tuesday, and made appearances in Montpelier, South Royalton, Brattleboro and Greenfield, Mass., on Wednesday. On Thursday, there is a legislative briefing at the Massachusetts State House, and afterwards a series of meetings in Massachusetts communities near the now-closed Pilgrim nuclear station. Then on Sunday, it’s back to western Massachusetts for an event and concert in Florence, Mass.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.

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October 5, 2019 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Church Rock America’s Forgotten Nuclear Sacrifice Zone

August 13, 2019 Posted by | health, incidents, indigenous issues, Reference, USA | 2 Comments

The connection between indigenous and nuclear issues

“These trucks are carrying radioactive materials over the water supply for seven states, and they are driving by our communities and our families,”  “This is an unacceptable risk.”

Local activists highlight connection between indigenous and nuclear issues,  https://news.wbfo.org/post/local-activists-highlight-connection-between-indigenous-and-nuclear-issues, 9 Aug 19,  A celebration of Indigenous Peoples and Nuclear-Free Future Day returns Friday to the Buffalo History Museum. Ahead of the event, local Native Americans and environmental activists explained how the issues of indigenous peoples and nuclear power are intertwined.

Representatives from local indigenous communities, the Western New York Peace Center and Peace Action New York State gathered Tuesday at the history museum’s Japanese Garden. Agnes Williams, coordinator of the organization Indigenous Women’s Initiatives, helped hold up two colorful banners that read, “No More Waste” and “Water is Life.”

“The nuclear issue is very important to us as indigenous people because we’re on the beginning and the end of the nuclear chain, at uranium mining and waste disposal,” said Williams, who is a member of the Seneca Nation.

Williams and other speakers discussed the long history of indigenous land around the world and in the U.S. being taken and used for mining, testing of nuclear weapons and then disposal of radioactive waste.

“We thank indigenous wisdom for the guidance,” said Victoria Ross, executive director of WNY Peace Center. “All of our issues are connected. We are working to #UniteTheStruggles.” Continue reading

August 10, 2019 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA | Leave a comment

How Australian Aboriginals stopped a huge uranium mining project

Leave it in the ground: stopping the Jabiluka mine, Red Flag Fleur Taylor, 15 July 2019  “…… The election of John Howard in March 1996 marked the end of 13 years of ALP government…..

Australia’s giant mining companies – major backers of the Coalition – got their wish list. Howard immediately abolished Labor’s three mines policy, and the business pages crowed that “25 new uranium mines” were likely and possible. And in October 1997, then environment minister Robert Hill blew the dust off an environmental impact statement from 1979 that said mining at Jabiluka was safe. Approval of the mine quickly followed.

The Jabiluka uranium deposit, just 20 kilometres from the Ranger uranium mine, is one of the richest in the world. The proposal was to build a massively bigger mine than that at Ranger, which would be underground and therefore more dangerous for the workers. It was projected to produce 19 million tonnes of ore over its lifetime, which would be trucked 22 kilometres through World Heritage listed wetlands.

The Liberals hoped to make a point. After all, if you could put a uranium mine in the middle of a national park in the face of Aboriginal opposition, what couldn’t you do?

The fight immediately began. The traditional owners of the area, the Mirarr, were led by senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula and the CEO of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, Jacqui Katona. They were supported by anti-nuclear campaigners around the country, most notably Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation, as well as a network of activist groups.

The most important objective was to delay construction of the mine, scheduled to begin in 1998. To do this, the Mirarr called on activists to travel to Jabiluka in order to take part in a blockade of the proposed mine site until the onset of the wet season would make construction impossible.

The blockade was immensely successful. Beginning on 23 March 1998, it continued for eight months, attracted 5,000 protesters and led to 600 arrests at various associated direct actions. Yvonne Margarula was one: she was arrested in May for trespass on her own land after she and two other Aboriginal women entered the Ranger mine site.

The blockade also attracted high-profile environmental and anti-nuclear activists such as Peter Garrett and Bob Brown. This helped signal to activists that this was a serious fight. The sheer length of time the blockade lasted created a fantastic opportunity for the campaign in the cities. Activists were constantly returning from Jabiluka with a renewed determination to fight.

The Jabiluka Action Group was key to building an ongoing city-based campaign in Melbourne, and the campaign was strongest there of any city. It held large – often more than 100-strong – weekly meetings, organised endless relays of buses to the blockade and  took the fight to the bosses and corporations that stood to profit from the mine.

We were determined to map the networks of corporate ownership and power behind the mine. But in the late 1990s, when the internet barely existed, this wasn’t as simple as just looking up a company’s corporate structure on its glossy website. It took serious, time consuming research.

A careful tracing of the linkages of the North Ltd board members showed that they were very well connected – and not one but two of them were members and past chairmen of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) – one of Australia’s leading bosses’ organisations. So our June 1998 protest naturally headed to the Business Council of Australia. We occupied their office, and the two groups of anti-uranium protesters, 3,800 kilometres apart, exchanged messages of solidarity, courtesy of the office phones of the BCA.

We were also staggered to learn that the chairman of a company that owned two uranium mines and was Australia’s biggest exporter of hardwood woodchips was also a member of the Parks Victoria board, the national president of Greening Australia and the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) board president!

The EPA, and corporate greenwashing in general, thereby became a target for the campaign. Another target was the Royal Society of Victoria, which made the mistake of inviting Sir Gus Nossal, a famous scientist and longstanding booster for the nuclear industry, to give a dinner address. We surrounded its building, and the organisers, somewhat mystified, cancelled the dinner. This action once again made headline news, helping to keep the issue of the Jabiluka mine in people’s minds.

We held regular protests at the headquarters of North Ltd on Melbourne’s St Kilda Road. On the day that Yvonne Margarula was facing court on her trespass charge, a vigil was held overnight. When we heard she had been found guilty, the protest erupted in fury. Cans of red paint – not water-based – materialised, and the corporate facade of North Ltd received an unscheduled refurbishment. The Herald-Sun went berserk.

The leadership of the Mirarr people gave this campaign a different focus from other environmental campaigns of the time. It was fundamentally about land rights, sovereignty and the right of Aboriginal communities to veto destructive developments on their land. In Melbourne, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation appointed long-time Aboriginal militant and historian Gary Foley as their representative. Gary worked tirelessly to provoke and educate the many activists who turned up wanting to “support” or “do something” for Aboriginal people.

At a time when “reconciliation” was strongly supported by liberals and much of the left, Foley told us that reconciliation was bullshit. He argued native title (supposedly a key achievement of Keating) was “the most inferior form of land title under British law”, and that the ALP was every bit as racist as One Nation – if not worse. He insisted activists must educate themselves about sovereignty and the struggles happening right here, not just those happening 3,800 kilometres away. The way the Jabiluka Action Group activists approached this challenge was an example of how people’s ideas change. Many came into the campaign primarily as environmental activists, but almost all left as committed fighters for Aboriginal rights.

**********

When the blockade wound down at the onset of the wet season, it was an opportunity to fight on some other fronts. Representatives of the UN World Heritage Committee visited Kakadu in late 1998 and issued a declaration that the World Heritage values of the area were in danger. They called on the government to stop the mine. Yvonne Margarula and Jacqui Katona travelled to Paris to speak to the European Commission about the mine.

John Howard, at the time mired in ministerial scandals and resignations, had called an election for September 1998, and there was hope in some quarters that Labor might win and stop the mine. But Howard scraped back in on only 48.3 percent of the vote, and it was clear that the fight on the ground would have to continue.

In the meantime, an important legal loophole had been identified. North Ltd had failed to secure agreement for the Jabiluka ore to be trucked to the Ranger mine for processing. It turned out the Mirarr did have the right to refuse this, and by exercising this right they would increase the cost of the project by $200 million (the cost of building a new processing plant at Jabiluka). This, combined with the ongoing protests, became a huge problem for the company.

Something we enjoyed doing at the time was monitoring North Ltd’s share price. It started out high when the Liberals took power. But after a year of protest and controversy, it had started to sink. The slump world uranium prices were going through didn’t help. But what the share price correlated to most closely was the major protests – it showed a drop after every single one.

Fund managers everywhere had absorbed the simple message that Jabiluka meant trouble, and early in 1999 this formerly prestigious blue-chip mining stock was described as one of the year’s “dog stocks”. Encouraged by this, the campaign launched its most ambitious action to date – the four-day blockade of North Ltd, from Palm Sunday until Easter Thursday 1999. This was the beginning of the end for the mine. In mid-2000, Rio Tinto bought out the struggling North Ltd. With no appetite for a brawl, the new owners quietly mothballed the Jabiluka project, signing a guarantee with the Mirarr to that effect. The campaign had won.

**********

The Jabiluka campaign was one of those rare things – an outright victory. It was a win not just for the Mirarr people, but for every community threatened by a devastating radioactive mine. And it was a win for humanity as a whole, protected from more of this deadly substance. Our chant – “Hey, North, you’re running out of time! You’re never going to get your Jabiluka mine!” – for once came true.

The victory inspired a neighbouring traditional owner, Jeffrey Lee, single-handedly to challenge the development of the Koongarra uranium deposit, resulting in the cancellation of that entire mining lease. In Melbourne and other cities, the Mirarr resistance inspired sustained and creative campaigning from a wide variety of participants – from vegan Wiccans and revolutionary socialists to doof-doof rave organisers and corporate-philanthropist Women for Mirarr Women. The campaign was chaotic and argumentative, but united by a commitment to challenging corporate power and standing up for Aboriginal sovereignty.

It still serves as an inspiration for anti-nuclear and anti-mining campaigns, such as the brave and determined opposition of the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners to the Adani mine. It stands as a great example of how blockades on country can nourish and inspire actions in the cities.  https://redflag.org.au/node/6839

July 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium | Leave a comment

France forced Polynesians to accept nuclear tests – they finally admit this!

May 25, 2019 Posted by | France, indigenous issues, OCEANIA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

A ‘doomsday button’ for Native Americans if Yucca Mountain were to be poisoned by nuclear trash

May 25, 2019 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Trident celebrations ignore Aboriginal victims of British nuclear weapons testing

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/trident-celebrations-ignore-aboriginal-victims-british-nuclear-weapons-testingLinda Pearson, April 26, 2019 Issue 1218, Scotland   

THE Royal Navy’s plan to hold a “national services of thanksgiving” at Westminster Abbey to mark 50 years of Britain’s submarine-based nuclear weapons has provoked condemnation from senior clergy and peace campaigners.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) General Secretary Kate Hudson said the plan is “morally repugnant” and the organisation is urging supporters to convey their opposition to Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson. Two Bishops and more than 20 priests have called on Westminster Abbey to cancel the service, which is set to take place on May 3……

The rhetoric of “deterrence” and “defence” is routinely invoked by nuclear-armed states to obscure the horrifying truth about nuclear weapons and justify national security doctrines that rely on them. Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power; “designed to indiscriminately kill and destroy thousands of innocent civilians”, as the Bishop of Colchester told The Times last week. This reality was recognised by most of the world’s countries, which voted to ban nuclear weapons in 2017.

Britain’s nuclear weapons program has already destroyed the lives of countless innocent civilians. More than 1200 Indigenous Australians were exposed to radiation during British nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s, while many others were displaced. The effects continue to be experienced by their families today. Some are now calling on the British government to apologise for the testing, instead of celebrating Trident.

Nuclear testing in Australia

Britain conducted 12 major nuclear weapons tests in Australia at the Montebello Islands, and at Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.

After securing the agreement of the Australian government, the British established a permanent test site at Maralinga in 1955. Seven major and several hundred “minor” tests were carried out there, releasing 100kg of radioactive materials into the surrounding area.

The British and Australian governments of the day demonstrated a callous disregard for the lives of Aboriginal people that is characteristic of the settler-colonial mindset. Permission to conduct the testing was not sought from Aboriginal landowners and the Australian government decided they should not be informed of the risks.

When an Australian scientist asked British authorities about the potential danger to local Aboriginal people, the response was that “a dying race couldn’t influence the defence of Western civilisation”.

Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their land prior to the tests, destroying their way of life. Others experienced serious health issues as a result of their exposure to radiation.

Yankunytjatjara man Yami Lester went blind after a “black mist” from the explosions enveloped his country. Others experienced skin rashes, diarrhea and vomiting. Today, Aboriginal communities in the area experience high rates of diseases associated with the effects of radiation poisoning.

Yami Lester’s daughter, Karina Lester, and her family played a crucial role in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). They collected and shared stories from the survivors of nuclear weapons testing that were instrumental in convincing 122 states that the only safe way to deal with nuclear weapons is to eliminate them.

ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to bring about the 2017 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The historic treaty recognises “the disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on Indigenous peoples”. The British and Australian governments boycotted the UN negotiations, however, and have ruled out signing the treaty.

No cause for celebration

Karina Lester said “survivors of the British Nuclear Tests carried out on Australian soil in the 1950’s and 1960’s in South Australia’s outback are still haunted. The Indigenous communities still suffer with high numbers of deaths, cancers, respiratory illnesses and autoimmune disease.”

Several attempts to clean up the Maralinga site have been made by British and Australian governments, thanks to the campaigning of survivors like Yami Lester, but contamination at the site remains. In 1995, Aboriginal peoples received just £7.5 million for the loss and contamination of their land. Only £110,000 has been paid to five Aboriginal people to compensate for their exposure to radiation. A class action was blocked by Britain’s Supreme Court in 2013.

Karina Lester said that the affected communities “have had no apology for the wrongdoings on our traditional lands to this day. As the British Government celebrates 50 years with nuclear weapons, Australia’s Indigenous communities in South Australia wear the scars.”

Instead of celebrating, Lester said, “we Indigenous South Australians urge the British government to own up and apologise for your actions

New threat from nuclear waste dump

Aboriginal communities in South Australia now fear that they will be forced to bear the risks of radioactive contamination again. The Australian government is currently considering three sites for the location of a national nuclear waste dump, two on Barngarla land, near Kimba, and one on Adnyamathanha land at Wallerberdina Station, near the Finders Ranges.

The dump will host nuclear material currently stored at different sites in Australia, plus waste from Britain pursuant to a 2012 agreement between the British and Scottish governments. The agreement relates to waste generated by the reprocessing of Australian nuclear fuel at Dounreay. However, that waste is to remain where it is and a substituted amount will be shipped from the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing and decommissioning site, located on the coast of the Irish Sea.

The views of traditional owners have been sidelined throughout the process for choosing the dump’s location and Adnyamathanha’s traditional owners say that federal government contractors have already damaged sacred sites. As a result, two separate human rights complaints are outstanding in Australian courts.

Campaigners have called on the British and Scottish governments to halt the shipment while there is a risk that it will end up dumped on Aboriginal land without the consent of the Traditional Owners. However, the British government said the shipment “will comply with all relevant international laws” and the eventual destination of the waste is “a matter for the Australian authorities”. The British Environment Agency has so far failed to respond to requests to halt the shipment of waste from Sellafield.

The Scottish government has also failed to act to stop the shipment, despite expert advice it commissioned, which states that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and, ultimately, Scottish ministers could refuse to authorise the shipment on human rights grounds.

Britain’s plans to celebrate 50 years of at-sea nukes erases the experience of Indigenous people affected by nuclear weapons testing. Those experiences should be front and centre in any discussion about nuclear weapons, as ICAN recognised.

Instead of celebrating, we should be looking at ways to redress the past and prevent future harm. Britain should apologise for its nuclear weapons testing and pay adequate compensation to those affected. The shipment of nuclear waste from Sellafield should be stopped.

But there is only one way we can prevent more lives being destroyed by nuclear weapons and that is by eliminating them altogether. https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/trident-celebrations-ignore-aboriginal-victims-british-nuclear-weapons-testing

April 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, UK | Leave a comment

Revealingthe horror of white Australia’s massacres of Aboriginal people

March 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, history, indigenous issues, Reference | Leave a comment

Remembering the success of an indigenous fight against nuclear waste dumping

Fight against nuclear waste dump remembered at Ward Valley Spiritual Gathering http://www.mohavedailynews.com/needles_desert_star/fight-against-nuclear-waste-dump-remembered-at-ward-valley-spiritual/article_90eb72d6-389e-11e9-b4f7-9f6fab400ac1.html. By GENTRY MEDRANO Director, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe Public Relations Department, 25 Feb 19, 

    NEEDLES — The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe hosted the 21st annual Ward Valley Spiritual Gathering on Feb. 16.

FMIT, along with supporters from the other five tribes along the Colorado River and environmental activists and allies, gathered to commemorate a 113-day occupation that led to defeating a proposal for a nuclear waste dump at Ward Valley.

In addition to honoring the individuals and organizations for the hard work, courage and dedication they brought to the successful occupation, the event was also a remembrance filled with songs from the Fort Mojave Tribal Band, traditional Bird Singing and Dancing, a Spirit Run, tributes, recognition and a history of Ward Valley.

In 1998 the occupation of the proposed dump site by the five river tribes: the Fort Mojave, Chemehuevi, Quechan, Cocopah and Colorado River Indian Tribes; along with environmental activists, took place at the Ward Valley site to fight and stop the proposed dump.

The resistance efforts prevented law enforcement from the Bureau of Land Management from entering the site, effectively stopping any test drilling or development.

Protesting that the waste dump would have desecrated sacred land, the tribes and activists prevailed when the U.S. Department of the Interior rescinded an eviction notice and canceled the test drilling.

The Interior Department terminated all actions regarding the Ward Valley dump proposal on Nov. 2, 1999, ending the fight with victory for the tribes and activists.

Ward Valley is about 25 miles west of Needles along Interstate 40 at Water Road

February 25, 2019 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Religion and ethics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Scotland kow tows to UK and Australian govts – rejects courageous Aboriginal appeal against nuclear waste transport

Last ditch aborigine appeal to Scotland to stop nuclear waste transfers to Australia, https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/17391290.last-ditch-aborigine-appeal-to-scotland-to-stop-nuclear-waste-transfers-to-australia/?ref=fbshr&fbclid=IwAR3r2Lqdv0V66rc7I8PrKJme4mkAsIx2Wtd5bv-Vy_XeT1i3GOgi_Mr    By Martin Williams  29 Jan 19, SOME of the Aborigines who live in and around a sacred burial place in South Australia can still remember the clouds of poison that were the result of Britain’s nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s.

Many of the indigenous population claimed they were exposed to radiation as a result of the post-war atomic weapons tests in the desert and received compensation from the Australian government.

But a new kind of radiation could be heading to the remote sacred area of Wallerberdina – nuclear waste. The concerns are centred over a spot 280 miles north of Adelaide, which has become a potential location for Australia’s first nuclear dump.

The movement of waste is part of a deal that returns spent fuel processed at the nuclear facility currently being decommissioned to its country of origin.

Despite campaigners’ efforts it has emerged that David Peattie, chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), has insisted that there can be no change.

And now Aboriginal elder Regina McKenzie has made a last-ditch direct appeal to the First Minister for help to halt Dounreay’s dumping plans, calling for her “not to be part of the cultural genocide of Australian Aboriginal people”.

Mr Peattie said in a letter to UK campaigners who are fighting against the dumping: “The NDA does not have an option of retaining the waste in the UK.”

The Dounreay Waste Substitution Policy, agreed in 2012, sees waste from Australia, Belgium, Germany and Italy processed at the Scottish facility to make it safe for storage being returned to its country of origin.

The UK Government has previously confirmed that “a very small quantity of Australian-owned radioactive waste” is currently stored in the country.

Scottish Government policy allows for the substitution of the Dounreay nuclear waste with a “radiologically equivalent” amount of materials from Sellafield in Cumbria.

The proposed dump site is next to an indigenous protected area where Aborigines are still allowed to hunt, and is part of the traditional home of the Adnyamathanha people, one of several hundred indigenous groups in Australia. And Ms McKenzie, an Adnyamathanha woman who lives at Yappala in South Australia and leading campaigner against any dump, has told the Nicola Sturgeon in a letter that the substitution policy is “culturally inappropriate”.

Ms McKenzie, who has been trying to get a meeting with the First Minister since the start of last year, said: “Adnyamathanha people have lived and practised culture in our country since the beginning of time. We understand and have connections with our land in a way the Australian Government does not. It is our duty to care for our country, song/storylines for future generations.

“We know we have friends in Scotland and in the UK. My great grandfather was Joseph Thomas McKenzie from Aberdeen, so we have a great respect for our Scottish heritage. We ask that you do all in your power to cancel the agreement made with the British Government and send a message of support to our people that Scotland stands with us in our fight to protect our country.

“We have previously offered to crowdfund money to travel to Scotland to raise our concerns with you in person, and we extend the offer for you to visit us here on our country at the sacred women’s waterhole Pungka Pudinah so you can hear why we must protect our country, for all of our futures.

She has said the UK should not make the mistakes they did when the nuclear tests were conducted between 1956 and 1963 at Maralinga, part of the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia.

“Please do not be a part in cultural genocide of Australian Aboriginal people, the past atrocities that were practiced on all the nations of Aboriginal people, must be something of the past and not committed further,” she told Ms Sturgeon.

“This waste facility is just that, cultural genocide, it will stop future generations’ access to a significant site.

“Again I ask please listen with your ears and heart, be a voice for my people and help stop cultural genocide on a minority group only trying to keep our culture strong and survive.”

The local Aboriginal people claimed they were poisoned by the tests and, in 1994, the Australian Government reached a compensation settlement with Maralinga Tjarutja of $13.5 million in settlement of all claims in relation to the nuclear testing.

Despite the governments of Australia and the UK paying for two decontamination programmes, eight years ago concerns were expressed that some areas of the Maralinga test sites are still contaminated 10 years after being declared “clean”.

Campaigner Gary Cushway, a dual Australian-British citizen living in Glasgow, said the new appeal came after the reached deadlock on any movement in ditching the substitution policy. He said: “My argument remains the same, that the material shouldn’t be returned, at least until the final destination is known.”

the Aborigines from supporters in the UK was turned down by the First Minister. Rory Hedderly, the diary team manager, wrote back: “Unfortunately, due to considerable diary pressures, the First Minister is unable to meet with Ms McKenzie at this time.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government believes any concerns expressed by indigenous people must be addressed and we sympathise with concerns relating to the location of the planned radioactive waste facility in Australia.

“However, this issue is a matter for the Australian authorities, who are responsible for waste arising from historic reprocessing of Australian spent fuels, carried out under contract at Dounreay.”

January 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste finally removed from Sequoyah Fuels site

Nuclear waste removed from Sequoyah Fuels site   Cherokee Nation, GORE, Okla. 30 Nov 18— A semitrailer quietly left the former Sequoyah Fuels Corporation site near Gore this week, hauling away the last of 511 loads of nuclear waste that has plagued Sequoyah County and its citizens for decades.

The Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma attorney general’s office worked for 18 months to ensure the off-site disposal of 10,000 tons of radioactive material were removed from the Sequoyah Fuels site. The waste was transported to a disposal site in Utah where the uranium will be recycled and reused, leaving the area near the Arkansas River free of this nuclear waste for the first time in nearly 50 years.

“It is a historic day for the Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma. Our lands are safe again, now that we have removed a risk that would have threatened our communities forever,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This would not have been possible if the tribe and state had not worked tirelessly together in court to ensure removal of this material.”

The uranium processing plant was opened by Kerr-McGee in 1970. It converted yellowcake uranium into fuel for nuclear reactors. The plant changed ownership more than once and was eventually sold to General Atomics under the name Sequoyah Fuels Corporation.

An accident at the plant killed one worker and injured dozens of others in 1986. Another accident in 1992 injured about three dozen workers. Following that accident and years of violating numerous environmental rules and nuclear safety standards, the plant was closed in 1993.

Tons of radioactive waste remained at the facility when it closed, so in 2004 the Cherokee Nation and state of Oklahoma entered into a settlement agreement that required the highest-risk waste be removed from the site. The owners of Sequoyah Fuels Corporation announced in 2016 their intention to bury the waste on site, but a judge forced the company to comply with the original agreement. Removal of the material is now complete.
“The Cherokee Nation has been in and out of court with Sequoyah Fuels since 2004, and now this material is no longer a ticking time bomb on the banks of the Arkansas River, one of our most precious natural resources,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill said. “Decommissioning this plant was never enough to satisfy our goals for a clean and safe environment. Removal of this highly contaminated waste was our goal, and we’re pleased that goal has finally been achieved.”

The plant is located where the Arkansas River and Illinois River meet.

“Today’s announcement is another example of the strength behind the continued partnership between the state of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation,” said Attorney General Mike Hunter. “The successful outcome is also affirmation of my office’s commitment to finding avenues of collaboration with tribal governments to ensure our state’s natural resources remain protected and our citizens and communities remain safe.”

Sequoyah County is home to 41,000 residents. Many of those residents are Cherokee and were once employed at the plant, where dozens of workers were injured over the years…….http://webtest2.cherokee.org/News/Stories/20181130_Cherokee-Nation-state-of-Oklahoma-city-of-Gore-announce-nuclear-waste-removed-from-Sequoyah-Fuels-site

December 1, 2018 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Aboriginal group’s unwavering struggle against uranium mining in Western Australia

Fighting for life in the “place of death”https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/08/27/fighting-for-life-in-the-place-of-death/ August 27, 2018

Traditional owners won’t give up 40-year opposition to Yeelirrie uranium mine,  By Linda Pentz Gunter

In the local Aboriginal language, the name Yeelirrie means to weep or mourn. It is referred to as a “place of death.” Yeelirrie is on Tjiwarl Native Title lands in Western Australia, where it has long been faithfully protected by Aboriginal traditional owners. The Seven Sisters Dreaming songline is there. It is home to many important cultural sites. And for 40 years, due to resolute indigenous opposition, and thousands of community submissions of protest, it had been spared plans by the Canadian mining company, Cameco, to plunder it for uranium.

The earth guardians know that such a desecration would cause the extinction of multiple species of subterranean fauna. It would release death. It would destroy Yeelirrie.

Now the fate of those tiny creatures hangs in the balance, their future in the hands of three brave women, backed by environmental organizations, after the outgoing Western Australian government decided to allow the Yeelirrie uranium mine project to go forward.

That decision was made in January 2017, despite the fact that, in August 2016, the Western Australia Environmental Protection Agency (WAEPA) had recommended that the Yeelirrie project be rejected. 

The Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA), which is engaged in contesting the uranium mining permit for Yeelirrie, said the WAEPA had rejected the Yeelirrie mine plan “on the grounds that the project is inconsistent with three of the objectives of the Environmental Protection Act — the Precautionary Principle, the Principle of conservation of biological diversity, and the Principle of intergenerational equity. The EPA decision was based on the overwhelming evidence that the project would make several species of subterranean fauna extinct.”

But former Minister for Environment, Albert Jacob, threw all that aside to approve the Yeelirrie mine in the waning days of Western Australia’s Liberal government, now replaced by Labor, which came in on a mandate to end uranium mining that it now may not be able to enforce.

In February 2018, CCWA and three members of the Tjiwarl community initiated proceedings in the Western Australia Supreme Court in an attempt to invalidate the approval decision made by Jacob. The case was dismissed by the court, a decision said CCWA executive director, Piers Verstegen, that shows that “our environmental laws are deeply inadequate,” and “confines species to extinction with the stroke of a pen.”

However, while the decision was a set-back, Verstegen said, “it’s absolutely not the end of the road for Yeelirrie or the other uranium mines that are being strongly contested here in Western Australia.”

Accordingly, CCWA and the three Tjiwarl women — Shirley Wonyabong, Elizabeth Wonyabong, and Vicky Abdullah (pictured left to right above the headline) vow to fight on, and have begun proceedings in the WA Court of Appeal to review the Supreme Court decision.

“I grew up here, my ancestors were Traditional Owners of country, and I don’t want a toxic legacy here for my grandchildren,” Abdullah told Western Australia Today in an August 2017 article.

“We have no choice but to defend our country, our culture, and the environment from the threat of uranium mining — not just for us but for everyone.”

Yeelirrie is one of four uranium mines proposed for Western Australia. The other three are Vimy’s Mulga Rock project, Toro Energy’s Wiluna project, and Cameco’s and Mitsubishi’s Kintyre project. Each of them is home to precious species, but Yeelirrie got special attention from the WAEPA because the proposed mine there would cause actual extinctions of 11 species, mostly tiny underground creatures that few people ever see.

According to a new animated short film, produced by the Western Australia Nuclear-Free Alliance, all four of these proposed mines could irreparably damage wildlife, habitat and the health of the landscape and the people and animals who depend on it. The film highlights Yeelirrie, but also describes the other three proposed uranium mines and the threats they pose.

At Mulga Rock, in the Queen Victoria Desert, the site is home to the Sandhill Dunnart, the Marsupial Mole, the Mulgara and the Rainbow Bee Eater, according to the film.

Wiluna, a unique desert lake system, could see uranium mining across two salt lakes that would leave 50 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste on the shores of Lake Way, which is prone to flooding.

The Kintyre uranium deposit was excluded from the protection of the Karlamilyi National Park within which it sits so that uranium could be mined there. It is a fragile desert ecosystem where 28 threatened species would be put at risk, including the Northern Quoll, Greater Bilby, Crest Tailed Mulgara, Marsupial Mole and Rock Wallaby.

At Yeelirrie, says the CCWA, “Cameco plans to construct a 9km open mine pit and uranium processing plant. The project would destroy 2,421 hectares of native vegetation and generate 36 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste to be stored in open pits.”

The mine would likely operate for 22 years and use 8.7 million litres of water a day. 

Under Australian laws, ‘nuclear actions’ like the Yeelirrie proposal also require approval by the Federal Environment Minister. CCWA and Nuclear-Free Western Australia, have launched a campaign directed at Federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg, calling for a halt to the Yeelirrie mine, given the immense risk it poses to “unique subterranean fauna that have been found nowhere else on the planet.” They point out that the Minister has the opportunity to “protect these unique species from becoming extinct.

“Species have a right to life no matter how great or small,” they wrote. “One extinction can massively disrupt an entire ecosystem. No one should have the right to knowingly eliminate an entire species from our planet forever.”

August 29, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium | Leave a comment

Australian Aboriginal group win injunction to halt vote on nuclear waste dumping

 

South Australian Aboriginal group wins injunction to halt nuclear ballot http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-16/aboriginal-group-wins-injunction-to-halt-nuclear-ballot/10129292, By Claire Campbell  

August 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Small Australian town to vote on nuclear waste dump, but Aboriginal land owners excluded from vote

Traditional owners “locked out” of nuclear waste vote,  InDaily, 3 Aug 18  Stephanie Richards   The head of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association says the majority of Adnyamathanha people have been denied a vote on a proposed radioactive waste management facility near the town of Hawker in the Flinders Rangers.

Wallerberdina Station, located approximately 30km northwest of Hawker on Adnyamathanha country, has been shortlisted by the Federal Government for a facility that will permanently hold low-level nuclear waste and temporarily hold intermediate level waste.

It is one of three sites, the other two situated close to Kimba, that were shortlisted by the Federal Government to store nuclear waste.

The selection process is entering its final stages, with a postal ballot beginning on August 20 to measure community support for the three nominated sites.

But ATLA CEO Vince Coulthard said the voting guidelines were disrespectful to traditional owners, as the majority of Adnyamathanha people do not live close enough to the proposed Wallerberdina site to be eligible to vote.

The voting range includes residents of the Flinders Ranges Council and those who live within a 50km radius of the Wallerberdina site.

According to Coulthard, there are approximately 2500 Adnyamathanha people in total but only about 300 Adnyamathanha people who live in the voting range.

Coulthard said about 50 Adnyamathanha people who lived outside the voting range had expressed interest in voting, but when ATLA asked Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan during a consultation trip to Hawker last week if those people could be granted a vote, Coulthard said Canavan told him that only those living in the prescribed voting range could participate.

“It’s a crazy situation,” Coulthard said.

“This is Adnyamathanha country and it is a very important place to the Adnyamathanha nation.

“People have strong connections to land. There’s a large amount of people, many who don’t live on the land but they go back on a regular basis to travel around the land.”

……… Coulthard said he was disappointed that Canavan had not consulted with all ATLA members during his consultation visit.

He said Adnyamathanha people had been “locked out” from the vote, despite holding native title rights over the land.

“Canavan is saying this will strengthen our culture, that this will be good for us, but what it is actually doing is punishing the environment.

“This is a place where we have gone to get bush tucker, where we have come as traditional owners for thousands of years.

They’ve shown us disrespect and this is very hurtful.”

The proposed site holds sacred meaning for Adnyamathanha people, as it is located close to the Hookina Waterhole and ancient burial sites.

…….. Last month, the Federal Government tripled the incentive package for the community that hosts the nuclear waste repository.

The Government had promised to spend more than $10 million in the district where the facility is built, but under new incentives announced by Canavan, the Government increased funding to $31 million.

……. The Government has previously indicated it wants to choose a preferred site before the end of this year. https://indaily.com.au/news/2018/08/03/traditional-owners-locked-out-of-nuclear-waste-vote/

August 4, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Navajo Nation urges wider availability of compensation for radiation exposure due to Cold War nuclear testing

Navajo Nation urges expansion of radiation exposure law https://www.nhonews.com/news/2018/jul/17/navajo-nation-urges-expansion-radiation-exposure-l/ SHIPROCK, N.M. (AP) 17 July 18  — From the end of World War II to the mid-1980s, about 30 million ton of uranium ore were extracted from lands belonging to the nation’s largest American Indian reservation. Today, across the Navajo Nation, sit dozens of abandoned uranium mines and the high risk to residents of contamination exposure.

Now, the Navajo Nation is urging the U.S. Congress to expand a federal law that compensates people who were exposed to radiation resulting from nuclear bomb tests stemming from the Cold War.

Currently, the law only covers people who lived downwind from nuclear test sites in Nevada, Arizona and Utah, as well as workers in the uranium mining industry in a dozen states. But the tribe says it’s time for Navajo Nation workers after 1971 to be included.

“Many members of the federal government are not aware of the effects uranium mining has had on Navajo people,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said. “They don’t see the consequences of radiation exposure.”

Most claims under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act come from the Four Corners region where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah meet. Proposed amendments would expand the cutoff for uranium mining workers from 1971 to 1990.

Navajo officials say those workers were exposed to the same harmful conditions.

The push by the Navajo Nation comes as residents of the New Mexico village of Tularosa near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test also want to be covered under the law. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders and Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez testified before a U.S. Senate committee last month examining potential changes to the law.

A bill proposed by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico would expand eligibility for payouts under the Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act of 1990.

Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa consortium, said many who lived in the area weren’t told about the dangers of the first atom bomb test, known as the Trinity Test, on generations of residents and later were diagnosed with rare forms of cancer.

Scientists working in Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project, which provided enriched uranium for the weapon. The secret program also involved facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.

The bomb was tested in a stretch of desert near towns with Hispanic and Native American populations.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA | Leave a comment