This article, by Kate Harries, appeared in Toronto-based Walrus Magazine in March 2008. About widespread radioactive contamination in Port Hope, Ontario, from Cameco's (formerly Eldorado's) uranium processing facilities, it provides important updates to Peggy Sanger's 1981 book Blind Faith: The nuclear industry in one small town. Pat McNamara referenced the article in his own 2009 book, Nuclear Genocide in Canada, which contains numerous updates on Port Hope, in addition to its broad overview of nuclear issues across Canada. Port Hope's contamination extends into Lake Ontario itself, source of drinking water for many millions of Americans in New York State, Canadians, and numerous Native American First Nations downstream.
Beyond Nuclear, while U.S. based, recognizes that the issue of nuclear power, particularly in relation to climate change and reactor expansion, has become an international issue. Multi-national corporations, often with foreign ownership, have taken over every facet of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining to waste disposition. Beyond Nuclear is currently engaged in supportive efforts in a number of different countries.
In Part 1 of his book overviewing the Canadian nuclear establishment's history, Nuclear Genocide, Pat McNamara included an essay on the dozen uranium mines, and associated mills and refinery, located near Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada -- adjacent to the Serpent River First Nation. Much of the essay was taken from the book This Is My Homeland, edited by journalist, Serpent River First Nation Member, and Green Party of Canada indigenous peoples affairs spokesperson Lorraine Rekmans. As documented by Gordon Edwards and Robert Del Tredichi's Nuclear Map of Canada, 145.3 million tonnes of radioactive tailings, out of a national Canadian total of 193.2 million tonnes -- a whopping 75% -- are located at the long-shuttered Elliot Lake uranium mines, on the Serpent River watershed which flows into Lake Huron at Georgian Bay. To this day, the Elliot Lake uranium tailings are still the largest source of radium discharges into the Great Lakes, the drinking water supply for 40 million people in the U.S., Canada, and numerous Native American First Nations.
These powerful words come from Andy Orkin, an Ontario lawyer who worked on behalf of the Deline First Nations people, among the very first indigenous victims of the Atomic Age. Deline, Northwest Territories, Canada is home to a traditional Dene tribe, the only indigenous people on the mighty Great Bear Lake near the Canadian Arctic. Orkin is quoted in Part 1 of Pat McNamara's Nuclear Genocide in Canada.
The book opens by describing Port Radium, the first uranium mine in Canada, which commenced operations in 1933. Local indigenous men were hired to haul pitchblende, uranium ore containing then-coveted radium, in burlap sacks (see photos at left). Although the Canadian mines department had already alerted the federal government to the hazards, the men of Deline were not warned. They began dying of various cancers -- diseases unknown previously to the tribe -- at an alarming rate, in 1960.
Eventually, the Canadian government admitted the men's exposure to hazardous radioactive materials was to blame, but the "Village of Widows" had long since already figured that out themselves. As nuclear widow Cindy Kenny-Gilday of Deline said:
"This village of young men are the first generation of men in the history of Dene on this lake
to grow up without guidance from their grandfathers, fathers and uncles. This cultural, economic,
spiritual, emotional deprivation impact on the community is a threat to the survival of the one and only
tribe on Great Bear Lake. Itʹs the most vicious example of cultural genocide I have ever seen and it's in my own home."
The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility has posted a 1998 "Call for a Federal Response to Uranium Deaths in Deline" by the Dene First Nation People of Great Bear Lake.
Greenpeace International has blogged about the larger implications of a French court's conviction of Electricite de France (EDF) and two its senior staff for "complicity in computer piracy": hiring a private investigator to hack into Greenpeace computers and steal 1,400 documents. The court has fined EDF 1.5 million Euros ($2 million), ordered it to pay 500,000 Euros ($682,000) in damages to Greenpeace France, and an additional 50,000 Euros ($68,200) to the Greenpeace campaigner whose computer was hacked and confidential documents stolen. The court has sentenced two senior EDF officials, and two officials at the private investigation company, to 2-3 years of jail time each, as well as fining three of them thousands of Euros each. World Nuclear News has reported on this story.
Canada's Windsor Star has extensively quoted Derek Coronado of Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA) about his concerns with the Davis-Besse atomic reactor, located about 50 miles south of Windsor, across Lake Erie, in Ohio. On October 20th, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a Preliminary Notification of Occurrence (PNO) about cracking in Davis-Besse's shield building wall.
David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, responded by writing NRC, questioning whether or not NRC has adequately inspected cracking in the Davis-Besse atomic reactor's exterior shield building, and whether this aspect of the design can still fulfill its radiologically protective function against external threats, such as tornado missiles.
Beyond Nuclear has joined in coalition with CEA, as well as Don't Waste Michigan and the Ohio Green Party, to oppose a 20 year license extension at Davis-Besse. The environmental coalition has won standing and the admission for hearing of several contentions against the license extension sought by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) at its problem plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor.
FENOC and NRC staff called upon the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) to reject CEA's standing, as Derek Coronado lived a mere 127 feet beyond the 50 mile emergency planning zone radius around Davis-Besse. At the March 1, 2011 ASLB oral hearings in Port Clinton, Ohio, the environmental coalition's pro bono attorney, Terry Lodge of Toledo, said in response to the three administrative law judge panel that "Not since Commodore Perry captured the British Navy during the War of 1812 have Canadians been so insulted in Port Clinton." The ASLB agreed, describing the call for the 127 foot cut off as about 1,000 feet beyond the realm of the absurd and frivolous, and granted CEA standing in the proceeding.