Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU)
Citizens’ Inquiry on the Impacts of the Uranium Cycle
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A Submission

from Carol Winter
Peterborough

The uranium situation boils down to the question of what we are willing to do to preserve a safe water supply.

We can no longer depend on government to "do the right thing". The Conservative and Liberal parties have amalgamated into the New Age Mammon Party with the party slogan "Anything for Big Bucks". If there were a market to sell old people to work in cotton fields, the cattle cars would be lining up outside Canadian nursing homes.

There is no need for studies and assessments. The National Film Board video "Village of Widows" shows the tragic consequences of uranium on miners and their families. Even dust brought home on clothing increased the epidemic of cancers and birth defects in the small village which supplied most of the uranium miners for the first atomic bomb. The NFB video Uranium shows how uranium mining has contaminated the Serpentine River in northern Ontario. For a distance 100 miles downstream no one can drink the water or eat any surviving fish. A similar consequence from open pit mining at Bancroft would poison the Kawartha Lakes and Otonabee River, terminating our local tourist industry and poisoning the water supply.

Uranium mining leaves mountains of toxic tailings. Safe disposal is virtually impossible. Disposal of depleted reactor fuel is also a huge problem, but now there is a valuable commodity -- depleted uranium -- which can be salvaged and sold to maim and tear apart young people in distant countries and leave a legacy of cancers and terrible birth defects.

How could our government resist this lucrative market?

The need to stop uranium mining is urgent. Exploratory drilling has already started at Bancroft, and once the radioactive wastes leach into the water there is no means of redemption. The radioactive half life of uranium is 100,000 years.

Individuals have already made enormous sacrifices to avert this health and environmental catastrophe. Chief Paula Sherman and Dr. Robert Lovelace have been heavily fined and the Ardoch Algonquin are faced with a multi-million dollar law suit for trying to protect THEIR land. Dr. Lovelace is still in the Lindsay Jail and his job may be in jeopardy. Donna Dillman has completed a life threatening hunger strike which has culminated in this inquiry. Trent students have put great effort into protests,but exams will soon be over and many students will be leaving the community.

It is time for the rest of us to decide what we are willing to do to avert this potential and irreversible calamity. First our City Council should be asked to join other Civic Councils in passing a motion to demand a moratorium on uranium mining. Next we should advise our M.P.P that if a moratorium is not called, and if Robert Lovelace and the KI leaders are not released, others will head for Sharbot Lake where a decree has been passed that all who visit the site (on Ardoch land) will be imprisoned.

If the moratorium and release are not promised the follow-up should be immediate, but it can only work if there are enough people. i am willing to go but not alone. The imprisonment of a few troublemakers will accomplish nothing. But if many people go and threaten to clutter up the prison system the government will have to yield, because where will it put all the homeless people it regularly imprisons because they are judged to be loitering or disorderly since they have no supportive housing.

As Native leader Sean Brant pointed out in his Peterborough address, there can be justice without bloodshed but it can't be achieved by a few people. If large numbers are willing to make small sacrifices we can stop this disaster. The question is what are we willing to do to prevent the poisoning of our waterways for the next 100,000 years and to free the courageous leaders who have put their own lives on the line to protect the lives of future generations.