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NEWS: Indigenous opposition to radioactive shipments on the Great Lakes

A Union of Ontario Indians media release issued yesterday states, “Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says that the Anishinabek Nation wants Bruce Power plans and any other future plans to transport or ship any radioactive waste or contaminated equipment from the decommissioning, refurbishment or routine operation of nuclear reactors through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River to be rejected. ‘The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has failed to fulfill its constitutional duty to consult and accommodate First Nations on contemplated actions that may impact upon constitutionally protected Treaty and Aboriginal rights,’ said the Grand Council Chief. The Anishinabek Treaty and Aboriginal title lands occupy all of the Great Lakes shoreline and a significant part of its basin.  These Treaty and Aboriginal title lands are where the Anishinabek people exercise their constitutionally protected rights to fish, hunt, and gather lake based traditional foods and medicines. ‘We, the Anishinabek, have jurisdiction over the Great Lakes as a result of Aboriginal titles and the treaties that have been entered into by First Nations and the Crown,’ said Madahbee.”

The London Free Press reported in July that, “The Ontario Coalition of Aboriginal People, representing 7,000 status, non-status Indians and Metis, opposes the plan by Bruce Power and is demanding consultation and accommodation from the provincial and federal governments. ‘This is a big concern for all Canadians,’ Brad Maggrah, president of the organization… The route would take the radioactive waste past the Cape Croker, Saugeen, Kettle Point, Chippewas of Sarnia and Walpole Island reserves in western Ontario as well as those along the St. Lawrence including Akwesasne.”

The Watertown Daily News reported last week that, “The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne is… trying to halt a shipment of nuclear waste through the St. Lawrence Seaway. ‘It just opens the door; what’s to prevent future shipments of larger amounts of the nuclear waste?’ the council’s acting environmental science director, Elizabeth F. Nanticoke, asked. ‘Nobody ever asked what should happen in our territory; they just go ahead and propose things without asking us. Although they say it’s low levels, you can never say that it’s ever completely safe.'”

And the Montreal Gazette recently reported that, “The local band council in Kahnawake made good on its word yesterday and banned the transport of nuclear-waste materials through the (narrow) St. Lawrence Seaway section that runs through the Mohawk community. The resolution, although not binding, signals the band council’s opposition to an Ontario nuclear power plant’s plan to ship 16 radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway to a recycling facility in Sweden.”

A decision by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on the shipments is expected by November 11. To read about the Council of Canadians opposition to the radioactive shipments on the Great Lakes, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4770.