APTN National News
Three Mohawk communities are banding together stop the transportation of steam generators containing radioactive material through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system.
The band councils of Akwesasne, Kahnawake and Tyendinaga released a joint statement Wednesday pledging to fight the shipment, which was authorized by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Friday.
“We wish to make it clear that we are absolutely, 100 per cent against this plan,” said Tyendinaga Chief Don Maracle. “We have an obligation to protect Mother Earth and her inhabitants.”
The commission has given a one year license to energy firm Bruce Power to ship 16 decommissioned steam generators to Sweden for recycling.
The generators would travel from Lake Huron, down the St. Clair River through to Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and then on through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean before arriving in Sweden.
The welded-shut generators, weighing about 100 tons, contain some radioactive waste, including plutonium 239.
Bruce Power contends that the radioactive material is not dangerous. The company says a person standing a meter away from a generator for an hour would face exposure equal to that contained in one X-ray.
The shipment, planned for sometime in the 2011 shipping season, has triggered strong opposition from cities and communities along the route.
A coalition of 73 cities from Thunder Bay to Rimousky, Que., have also stated their opposition to the plan.
There is also concern across the border. U.S. Republican Rep. Candice Miller has called on the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to review the shipping plans.
The Anishinabek Nation, representing 39 First Nations communities in Ontario, has also said it opposes the plan.
Akwesasne Grand Chief Mike Mitchell said no First Nations were consulted about the shipment despite the route will take it through the territorial waters of the Mohawks.
“It is disturbing that the CNSC has placed the interest of Bruce Power before the concerns shared by our Mohawk brothers and sisters,” said Mitchell, in the statement.
“The St. Lawrence River provides drinking water to some 40 million people…If there is an accident, there is no place for us to go. This is our home. We cannot and will not tolerate the passage of nuclear waste through our territory,” said Kahnawake Grand Chief Michael Ahrihron Delisle, Jr.