Anishinabek Nation voices concerns with radioactive liquid shipments

NIPISSING—The Iroquois Caucus and the Anishinabek Nation have issued a joint declaration stating their serious concerns regarding the transportation of highly-radioactive liquid waste on their respective territories.

“I think it is very important that we are at the forefront to stop the transportation of these highly-radioactive liquid shipments,” stated Patrick Madahbee, Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation. “It would prove to be devastating if there was any type of spill while the liquids are being transported through our territories. And if it got into the water system hundreds of thousands of peoples’ water could be affected.”

“The affects of Hiroshima and Chernobyl are still on going. Did we  not learn from the catastrophes and  there?” said Chief Madahbee. “What should happen is that should quit producing these materials-cheaper green energy and electricity is available. Every citizen in Canada should be terrified to think what could happen is there is a radioactive liquid spill.”

“We’re working on plans and strategies to ensure these shipments will not take place, and we have young people involved as well, they will be the most affected in the future,” continued Chief Madahbee. He noted that  the area where the transportation of the liquid waste is being proposed for transportation is Chalk River, Ontario to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. “There are 170-180 communities-municipalities this would be shipped through. The general public should be very alarmed.”

“Only having a 60-day hearing period for comments on this proposal is stupid, it goes against Supreme Court decisions that ensure consultation will take place with First Nations prior to any action like this kind taking place,” continued Chief Madahbee.

“This whole proposal is insane,” stated Chief Madahbee.

As well as the joint declaration a joint letter has been sent by the Iroquois Caucus and Anishinabek Nation to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advising Canada of their concerns in these matters. The letter was signed by Kahnawake Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton on behalf of the Iroquois Caucus and by Grand Council Chief Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee on behalf of the Anishinabek Nation.

“We understand that a small amount of this radioactive liquid, just a fraction of a litre, can contaminate hundreds of millions of litres of water to levels far exceeding the current drinking water limits,” the letter states. “We have unified and strongly opposed this proposal as these shipments would, of necessity, enter the US along roads and bridges on or adjacent to some of our traditional territories.”

“The Anishinabek Nation and Iroquois Caucus wish to remind the government and various authorities that there is an alternative to eliminate the weapons-grade uranium on the Chalk River site, called down-blending, which is a much safer alternative.”

The shipments from Chalk River are scheduled to begin in the spring. A prompt reply is expected.

The Joint Declaration reads, “the Anishinabek Nation and Iroquois Caucus have renewed their relationship and commitment of unity by smoking the sacred pipe. The two nations met to discuss radioactive waste matters that are within their traditional and territory treaties. Central to the discussions were ceremony, and spirituality as reflected in the inherent responsibilities and intimate relationship to the land, water, and all our relations.”

“The five starting points that were all agreed on including 1- No abandonment, 2-Better containment, more packaging; 3-Monitored and retrievable storage 4-Away from Major Water Bodies, 5. No imports or exports,” the declaration continues.

“The Anishinabek Nation and Iroquois Caucus declare that we have our own territories and exercise our jurisdiction on  a Nation-to-Nation basis. We draw on sacred law, customary laws-we need to protect the lands, waters and all living things for future generations. We will not let the Government of Canada or the provinces of Ontario and Quebec abandon radioactive waste in our territories.  We must consider future generations, as they are the ones that will be affected by our decisions. We remain collective and unified in our decisions that radioactive waste is kept away from all water bodies, as the risks are uncertain and too great. We remain unified in our decisions that radioactive waste will not be transported, exported or imported throughout our territories by road, rail, water or other means of transportation. And, we maintain our rights to our lands, waters, and to all our resources and that radioactive waste be better contained, and be in retrievable and monitored storage.

Their letter states, “as we have never relinquished our ongoing commitment to protect the lands and waters of our traditional territories, we are naturally concerned. We have seen accidents such as the pile-up of tractor-trailers near the 1000 Island Bridge on March 14. That accident involved the spill of a highly toxic liquid, requiring decontamination of first responders. Had the spill involved a radioactive liquid shipment from Chalk River, the consequences could have been much worse.”

“These unprecedented radioactive liquid shipments were agreed to by then President Obama and then Prime Minister Harper in 2012, as part of an effort to eliminate foreign stocks of weapons-grade uranium of US origin. We are accordingly writing to you as the current Prime Minister of Canada to reconsider this option, as the Government of Canada has failed to consult our Nations.”