Human Rights

The entire nuclear fuel chain involves the release of radioactivity, contamination of the environment and damage to human health. Most often, communities of color, indigenous peoples or those of low-income are targeted to bear the brunt of these impacts, particularly the damaging health and environmental effects of uranium mining. The nuclear power industry inevitably violates human rights. While some of our human rights news can be found here, we also focus specifically on this area on out new platform, Beyond Nuclear International.



7th Indigenous Uranium Forum coming up in October

Please consider supporting in any way you can the 7th Indigenous Uranium Forum, October 22,23, and 24 at San Fidel (Acoma Pueblo), New Mexico. Registration is open and reasonable and can be found on the forum Web site.


July 16 marks likely worst - and most forgotten - US nuclear accident

On July 16, 1979, just 14 weeks after the Three Mile Island reactor accident, and just 34 years to the day after the Trinity atomic test, the small community of Church Rock, New Mexico, became the scene of another nuclear tragedy.

Ninety million gallons of liquid radioactive waste, and eleven hundred tons of solid mill wastes, burst through a broken dam wall at the Church Rock uranium mill facility, creating a flood of deadly effluents that permanently contaminated the Rio Puerco river. For more on the disaster at Church Rock and the implications today, read Linda Gunter's essay. For more details, see Killing our Own and Southwest Research and Information Center.


Beyond Nuclear launches The Thunderbird newsletter

The Thunderbird is Beyond Nuclear's quarterly newsletter. The spring 2009 issue focuses on nuclear power, uranium mining and human rights. The summer 2009 issue focuses on a comparison between renewable energy and nuclear power. Stories include the Areva human rights record; Arctic caribou threatened by uranium mines; the French nuclear mess and more. See also the special Thunderbird page.


Standing room only for indigenous speakers in Washington, DC 

It was standing room only when Beyond Nuclear brought a team of speakers to Washington in February, 2009 to address the human rights abuses caused by uranium mining - and in particular the disproportionate targeting of indigenous peoples. The speakers included the actor, James Cromwell, Dr. Bruno Chareyron, (French nuclear engineer); Sidi-Amar Taoua (pictured left, a Touareg from Niger), Mitch (Aboriginal, Australia), Manny Pino (Acoma Pueblo), Jenny Pond (filmmaker, Poison Wind) and Nat Wasley (Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Australia). (Read transcripts).They drew standing room only crowds at their opening panel session at the 12,000-strong PowerShift 2009 youth conference with audiences turned away as fire code rules for the room were exceeded! Beyond Nuclear staff members were panelists and two additional packed-to-capacity PowerShift panels on nuclear energy and Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter conducted a solo workshop there that also had to turn people away due to overflow capacity. The speakers also held a press conference at the National Press Club and a Hill briefing and met with a dozen legislative offices on Capitol Hill. Pond's film, Poison Wind - describing the impact of uranium mining on Native American communities in the American Southwest, was screened at the 14th St. NW location of Busboys and Poets along with two short documentaries from Al Jazeera detailing the plight of the Touareg in Niger.


Indigenous activists decry human rights violations of uranium mining

A shack (pictured left) made of metal drums from the local uranium mine (pictured left) is where Areva's mineworkers live in Niger, according to local advocates in Arlit, one of two towns where Areva subsidiaries operate mines. Radioactive scap metal is available in the local markets, according to Bruno Chareyron, director of an independent French nuclear lab whose team traveled to Niger in 2003 to test levels of radioactivity in the mining communities. These metals are in turn used by villagers in their homes.

Areva, the French nuclear company that has mined in Niger for 40 years, denies there is any contamination of drinking water from the mine. However, Chareyron (pictured left) and his team, which measures radiation levels at contaminated sites in France and around the world, found high levels of radioactivity in drinking water and in rocks outside the mineworkers' hospital in Arlit, Niger (which is closed to non-miners and is owned and operated by Areva).

Chareyron was speaking during a three-day tour of indigenous advocates in Washington DC hosted by Beyond Nuclear and designed to highlight the human rights abuses around the world caused by uranium mining and which unfairly target indigenous peoples.

The actor, James Cromwell, (pictured left) also joined the tour and spoke passionately from the heart, having lived with the nomadic Touareg in the Niger. While filming Babe and its sequel, Cromwell also visited sacred Aboriginal sites in Australia.



"I am here to tell you not to buy our uranium because it is killing us and our government has stripped us of all our rights to say 'no'," said Mitch, (pictured left) an Aboriginal activist from Australia. Sidi-Amar Taoua, a Touareg from Niger, described how the proposal to open as many as 140 new uranium mines in the Sahara desert in northern Niger would drive the Touareg from the land and eliminate their way of life.


Manuel Pino (pictured left)of the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico talked about the genocide that has already happened to southwestern Native Americans who have suffered the vast majority of uranium mines on their land, most never cleaned up. Many miners and their families still suffer the often fatal health effects, "but anyone who mined after 1971 is not entitled to compensation," he said. "We're here to tell Congress to change that." Pino added: "In this process of nuclear renaissance, it's almost like the federal government is ignoring the historical legacy of uranium mining in the past and prioritizing the economic benefits of nuclear power in the future at the expense of our land, our water and our people." Watch for video footage of the all three days' events, coming soon.

Support Congressman Raul Grijalva's bill to ban uranium mining at the Grand Canyon. 

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