Chiefs-in-Assembly oppose small modular reactors on Anishinabek lands

Grand Council Chief Glen Hare

NORTH BAY – The Anishinabek Nation Chiefs-in-Assembly have sent a strong message to the nuclear industry and the governments of Canada and Ontario, having unanimously endorsed a resolution stating their clear opposition to the construction, operation, storage or disposal of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the territory of the Anishinabek Nation, including bodies of water.

The Anishinabek News reported June 12 that the Anishinabek Nation Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution to this effect at their meeting held in Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. 

“We, as Anishinabek, have the responsibility to act as stewards of our lands and waters,” Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare was quoted by Anishinabek News as saying. “SMRs and nuclear power in general represent an unacceptable risk to our nation. The Anishinabek Nation is vehemently opposed to any effort to situate SMRs within our territory. The stance we have taken is in support of the seven generations to come.”

SMRs are not only smaller in scale than the type of nuclear power reactors that many people are familiar with, but are also transportable. Industry proponents of SMRs are positioning this technology as a cheap energy and heating source for remote communities. The federal government has put its support behind SMRs. 

Grand Council Chief Hare was quoted by Anishinabek News as saying, “the Anishinabek Nation has advised the Senate Review Committee on Bill C-69 of our opposition to the effort of the nuclear industry in seeking exemptions from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The nuclear industry must be subject to public review and comment; compliance to Canada’s Environmental Assessment Act would ensure this.”

Bill C-69, an Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act (to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts), changes how major infrastructure projects are assessed and approved, including oil and gas pipelines, electricity transmission and major highway and ports. The bill recently underwent its third reading and was passed by the Senate with amendments on June 6.

Anishinabek leaders are concerned with potential environmental implications of SMRs. These reactors are small in scale but could contribute to the growing amount of nuclear waste that the federal government is looking to dispose of somewhere in Ontario.

“While other countries are shifting away from nuclear energy to more sustainable sources for their energy needs, Canada appears to be welcoming the expansion of the nuclear industry, with limited assurances on the safe containment of radioactive waste,” Grand Council Chief Hare told Anishinabek News. “I am concerned that Canada may become the radioactive dump of the world as other countries seek to dispose of their radioactive waste.”