Correction: I have corrected my mistaken description of the relationship between the Passamaquoddy First Nation (Peskotomuhkati First Nation) and the Wolastoq Grand Council (“people of the beautiful river” – a river called the St John River by most non-Indigenous people of New Brunswick, but originally known as “Wolastoq”).
The error in my previous email was based on my own misunderstanding.
Background: March 12, 2021
In Canada, there is only nuclear power reactor operating outside of Ontario. It is the Point Lepreau reactor, sited on the Bay of Fundy in the province of New Brunswick. It is a CANDU-6 (600 megawatts of electricity) virtually identical to the CANDU reactors in Argentina, South Korea, Romania, and China. The Gentilly-2 reactor, a CANDU-6 that was built in Quebec, sited on the St-Lawrence River, was permanently closed in December 2012.
The New Brunswick government is currently promoting two “Small Modular Nuclear Reactors” (SMNRs) to be built on the Point Lepreau reactor site, based on two experimental reactor designs built in the USA in the 1960s that were never successfully commercialized. One of these is a “molten salt” reactor (only two such reactors were previously tried on an experimental basis) and the other is a “Liquid Metal Fast Reactor” – a concept that was tried and abandoned in France, Germany and the UK.
The proposed molten salt reactor would require extracting plutonium from existing irradiated nuclear fuel, using a highly controversial technology (pyroprocessing) that has serious implications for the proliferation of nuclear weapons by increasing the accessibility of weapons-usable nuclear materials. The liquid metal reactor would employ uranium fuel enriched to an unusually high degree – a degree of enrichment that Iran was forbidden to produce under the nuclear deal that was negotiated by Obama and trashed by Trump, because of weapons proliferation concerns.
Passamaquoddy Bay, not far from Point Lepreau, was named after the Peskotomuhkati First Nation, whose traditional territory extends equally on both sides of the Ste. Croix River – with the western portion in Maine and the eastern portion in New Brunswick. The Wolastoq Grand Council, representing a neighbouring Indigenous community in New Brunswick, with traditional ties to the Saint John River (“Wolastoq”), has researched and deliberated the issues surrounding nuclear energy and radioactive waste on their traditional territory, and has passed the following resolution, which it wishes to see widely publicized.
From: “Susan O’Donnell” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [SMRs] Wolastoq Grand Council Resolution on nuclear energy and nuclear waste on traditional Wolastoq territory
Date: March 12, 2021 at 11:20:16 AM EST
Friends across the lands,
The Wolastoq Grand Council signed a Resolution on nuclear energy and nuclear waste on traditional Wolastoq territory. They asked for it to be published, and are asking all of us to spread it far and wide.
Susan O’Donnell, Fredericton NB.
Wolastoq Grand Council Resolution on nuclear energy
and nuclear waste on traditional Wolastoq territory
- Point Lepreau on the Bay of Fundy is located on the shared traditional and unceded territories of the Wolastoq and Peskotomuhkati Nations.
- Any developments affecting these lands and waters require approval by Wolastoq leadership.
- Article 29(1) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources.”
- Article 29(2) of the UNDRIP states that “States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of Indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.”
- Article 32(1) of the UNDRIP states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.”
- Nuclear reactors, regardless of size, produce by-products and radioactive waste material that must be contained and will be toxic and dangerous to human health for thousands of years.
- The step of providing prior informed consent was missing in both the development of the original Point Lepreau nuclear plant, the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau reactor, and the funding by the Government of New Brunswick in 2018 and 2021 of two new nuclear projects planned for Point Lepreau.
- The deadly radioactive poisonous waste materials from the Lepreau reactor sitting next to the Bay of Fundy are in temporary storage units and require more permanent and safe storage to protect the land, water, air and all life into the future.
- The nuclear industry plans to move the used (irradiated) nuclear fuel waste from Point Lepreau to Indigenous territory in Ontario.
- The Chiefs of Ontario, representing all First Nations in Ontario, recently passed Resolution 21/08 rejecting any further development of nuclear reactors and any transportation of deadly radioactive poisons across their traditional lands and waterways.
- The Chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations in 2018 passed Resolution 62/2018 calling for the halt of any public funding for proposed nuclear reactors.
- The Joint Declaration between the Anishinabek Nation and the Iroquois Caucus on the Transport and Abandonment of Radioactive Waste asserts the duty that all Indigenous peoples share to preserve and protect Mother Earth. We cannot risk the long-term, irreversible destruction of our lands and waters, which are life-giving for all beings.
- The Joint Declaration five principles for radioactive waste are: no abandonment; better containment and more packaging; monitored and retrievable storage; away from major water bodies; and no imports or exports.
- The nuclear industry claims that the proposed nuclear reactors will “recycle” and reduce the nuclear waste from the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station. On the contrary, they will create new, dangerous radioactive waste streams that will be expensive to manage and will have to be kept out of the environment and away from people for thousands of years.
- Moving those wastes at Point Lepreau away from the Bay of Fundy to nearby secure and safe places so they can be properly monitored forever to keep them safe from all living things is required immediately in consultation with Indigenous peoples.
- Planning for the eventual shut down and decommissioning of the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor and its facilities requires immediate attention to ensure this work will be done properly and in consultation with all Indigenous peoples.
- Previous presentations and documents by Wolastoq and Peskotomuhkati Nation leaders have called for the decommissioning planning work to begin as soon as possible.
- Nuclear power is not “green” or “clean.” The nuclear fuel chain includes the mining of uranium, the refining of the mined material to extract the uranium, the processing and conversion/fabrication plants, the nuclear reactor/power generation and the ongoing waste management with each step in the fuel chain leaving a wasteland affecting Indigenous people worldwide.
- Deadly radioactive emissions are spreading the poison from the Point Lepreau reactor every day as documented in the industry’s environmental reports.
- Point Lepreau and the Bay of Fundy must be protected for future generations.
Therefore, be it resolved, the Wolastoq Grand Council demands:
- That the Government of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick immediately halt any further funding for nuclear reactors at Point Lepreau.
- That the Governments of New Brunswick and Canada and the nuclear industry respect the desires of First Nations in Ontario to stop the development of the Deep Geological Repository on Indigenous territory in Ontario, and to assume responsibility for the radioactive material created by nuclear reactors in New Brunswick.
- That the Governments of New Brunswick and Canada invest in the necessary infrastructure to meet New Brunswick’s energy needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by further investing in and supporting existing and potential First Nation alternative energy solutions, importing surplus power from Quebec in a timely manner, rapidly deploying renewable sources of energy and initiating comprehensive energy efficiency measures.
- That the Point Lepreau nuclear plant be phased out and renewable power generation and storage solutions alongside efficient energy transmission and distribution be utilized in place of nuclear energy.
- That the Governments of New Brunswick and Canada store all existing nuclear waste on the site of the Point Lepreau nuclear station in above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced vaults, pulled back from the water’s edge, until an acceptable, permanent and safe method to destroy or neutralize the waste is found.
Resolution signed by:
Wolastoqewi Kci-Sakom spasaqsit possesom – Ron Tremblay
The Wolastoq Grand Council
March 6, 2021