NIPISSING FIRST NATION—Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says that First Nations in the Anishinabek Nation Territory have been opposed to nuclear waste storage sites since 2004.
“We always hear non-Native communities saying they don’t want certain projects or developments in their backyard,” said Grand Council Chief Madahbee. “Representatives from Chiefs in Ontario have been attending information sessions held by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and this is not the proper consultation we are entitled to.”
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands and territories of indigenous peoples without free and prior consent, pointed out Chief Madahbee.
NWMO is federally mandated to assume responsibility for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. A deep geological repository program is seeking long-term storage for Canada’s growing amount of high-level-spent nuclear fuel bundles.
Since the nuclear industry started using nuclear reactors to produce electricity in the early 1970s, they have accumulated about two million spent fuel bundles, a number that could fill six NHL-sized hockey rinks.
Three of the five sites in Northern Ontario involved in NWMO’s 10-year selection process—Wawa, Horneypayne, and Schreiber—are in Anishinabek territory. Elliot Lake, Blind River and the Township of North Shore have also expressed interest in becoming storage sites.
Historical uranium mining and processing within Anishinabek Nation territory has resulted in significant and long-term consequences not only to the environment, but also to the people who live and thrive off the land and waters for their livelihoods, said Chief Madahbee.
The Grand Council Chief said “there is absolutely no guarantee that the government, industry or NWMO can provide assurance that a natural hazard such as an earthquake, volcanic activity, rock fracture, corrosion, ice age or any other naturally occurring disaster can be avoided, only their unproven scientific theory.”
Grand Council Chief Madahbee said that under Anishinabek Nation Resolution 2010-30 it was, “declared that our communities were united in their opposition to both export of nuclear waste and deep geological nuclear waste disposal.”