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LETTER: NWMO leader should meet with Indigenous leaders

Chief Turtle and the other chiefs in the Land Defence Alliance are, like Mayor Baigrie, the heads of local governments.

To the editor,

I was honoured and humbled to attend the First Nations Land Defence Alliance's rally against nuclear waste in Thunder Bay on April 30. Informed, passionate speakers from communities at risk from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO’s) proposed transport and burial of nuclear fuel waste travelled up to 500 km to be present. Over 100 residents of Thunder Bay and area turned out to welcome them.

An April 30 article on NWONewswatch provided quotes from Chief Rudy Turtle of Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation (Grassy Narrows) and other leaders. A subsequent article with a response from an NWMO rep appeared on May 2.

Chief Turtle's community of Grassy Narrows is well-known (or have people forgotten?) for the calamitous mercury contamination of its waterways by industry effluents allowed to flow into the Wabigoon River system a short way upstream, brought to light in the 1970s. Community residents continue to suffer the devastating effects today.

The NWMO now proposes to site its experimental nuclear waste burial facility – guess where? - at the headwaters of the Wabigoon River system, upstream from Grassy Narrows. And although the NWMO (which is run by the nuclear industry) likes to say that the solid radioactive pellets they wish to bury there pose no risk to the waterways, this simply isn’t so.

Chief Turtle has asked for a meeting with NWMO - but, no luck. He would like to meet with NWMO CEO Laurie Swami. After all, Swami has been in his neighbourhood recently, to look on with satisfaction as Ignace Mayor Kim Baigrie signed the NWMO’s “Hosting Agreement” for the Twp. of Ignace.

Chief Turtle and the other chiefs in the Land Defence Alliance are, like Mayor Baigrie, the heads of local governments. It would be fitting for the NWMO to offer them a meeting with an NWMO leader or leaders - if not Swami, then at least some key scientists or engineers. But in a quote from NWMO's local Communications Manager, Vince Ponka, Ponka offers arrange a meeting between the Land Defence Alliance and … himself.

The NWMO is offering the Alliance a chance to discuss important technical matters with an office person, whose only job is to advertise his employers’ project. For shame!


Wendy O’Connor


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