Greenpeace joins First Nations in opposition to uranium exploration

Feature story - September 23, 2007
While in Kingston in September as part of the tour of the Arctic Sunrise to promote renewable energy, Greenpeace met on board ship with First Nations and local citizens to oppose uranium exploration in the Sharbot Lake area.

"The entire nuclear fuel chain is an environmental disaster from mining uranium to storing radioactive waste. Ontario doesn't need nuclear power or uranium mining," said Bruce Cox, Greenpeace executive director at a press conference called to express opposition to uranium exploration. "We can meet our power needs through conservation, renewable energy, and local generation. Uranium mining and the McGuinty government's $40 billion nuclear power program need to be key issues in the October 10 provincial election,"

Thirty thousand acres have been staked for uranium exploration near Sharbot Lake, an area that is subject to a land claim by Algonquin peoples, and which was never ceded to the Crown. The First Nations have blocked access to the site since June. The Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU) and friends, appreciate the time that this has allowed to bring about a moratorium on uranium exploration and changes to the mining act.

In July, a $77 million lawsuit was launched by the mining company against the First Nations, seeking a court order for their removal. Early in September, injunction was issued by the Ontario Supreme Court ordering the First Nations and their supporters to leave the property, and subjecting them to arrest for failing to obey the order.

"Past uranium mining in Ontario left a deadly legacy of 200 million tonnes of toxic tailings in the Elliott Lake and Bancroft areas," said Dave Martin, energy coordinator for Greenpeace. "Ontario's uranium should be left in the ground. There are many environmental, safety and economic reasons to oppose both uranium mining and nuclear power."

"Our opposition to uranium exploration and mining is based on health concerns as well as our inherent responsibility to protect the land," said Co-Chief Paula Sherman of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. Mitchell Shewell, member of the Ardoch heads of family, stated, "It is our cultural responsibility to protect Mother Earth and our younger brothers."

"We are calling on Premier McGuinty to enact an immediate moratorium on uranium exploration and mining in Ontario, following the existing precedent in Nova Scotia," said John Kittle, spokesperson for CCAMU.