Wednesday, 5 September 2012

$1.28B for Port Hope radioactive cleanup, NUCLEAR GENOCIDE IN CANADA

The Canadian Press

Posted: Jan 14, 2012 11:31 AM ET 

Ottawa says it will spend $1.28 billion over 10 years to clean up low-level radioactive waste in the Port Hope area east of Toronto.
The waste came from radium and uranium refining operations of the former Crown corporation Eldorado Nuclear and its private sector predecessors from 1933 to 1988.
The federal government says about 1.7 million cubic metres of the waste is located at sites in Port Hope and Clarington, about 100 kilometres east of Toronto.
The initiative will be carried out as two projects — one for Port Hope and the other for the Clarington site known as Port Granby. (Keep reading... )


Port Hope's nuclear past pits economic interests against health

In mid-November, when the weather was still gorgeous and tourists were still meandering through its picturesque downtown streets, Helen Caldicott sentenced Port Hope to death.

“It's a disaster,” the renowned doctor and anti-nuclear activist told a gathering of Port Hopers and a crush of reporters crammed into a hotel in Oshawa.

The mess can't be cleaned up, Caldicott said flatly of the low-level radioactive waste sprinkled around Port Hope.

“The entire town should be relocated and the Cameco refinery should be shut down.”
As she finished speaking, some 200 people who had listened attentively for an hour applauded loudly.
Back in Port Hope, residents sighed with frustration, gearing up for yet another fight to save the reputation of their town.

“Caldicott didn't even come here ... she said all those things from Oshawa and left,” says Liz Stewart, 61, a longtime resident. “We are tired of people doing this to Port Hope without knowing the facts. The town is safe and can absolutely be cleaned up.”

And just like that, Port Hope was back in the spotlight.

The town's nuclear past is its legacy and its curse. Eldorado Nuclear Ltd., which refined radium used for treating cancer, and uranium that helped the Manhattan Project develop the first atomic bombs, provided employment to hundreds in the town. But it also left Port Hope riddled with low-level radioactivity — and rancour.

The two have permeated every aspect of life in this town, pitting economic and social interests against health concerns. Friends have become foes. Tourism has taken a beating. Real estate deals have fallen through. Threats have become commonplace.

Uncertainty has become the great dividing line between those on opposing sides of Port Hope's ongoing debate. There is, simply, no middle ground.

The largest cleanup of radioactive waste in Canadian history will begin here later this year, as trucks and mechanical diggers move in to remove contaminated soil from numerous sites around town.
The project may eradicate the dark stain on the town, but it won't tackle the most important questions, some residents say.

“There is low-level radioactive waste everywhere in town . . . but the government has continuously refused to do an extensive health study,” says Andy Johncox, who worked at Eldorado for 14 years, until 1982.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says there is no danger to health in Port Hope; that more than 40 studies indicate residents have low levels of exposure to all types of contaminants.

There is, in fact, no undisputed evidence that radioactive materials released into the environment have harmed a single person in Port Hope.

But if the town is so safe, Johncox wonders: Why are millions of dollars being spent to clean it?
“I am all for the cleanup, but there are too many lingering questions,” says Johncox. “I'd really like to know the truth about Port Hope.” (Keep reading....


‘Inside sources’ being investigated

By Joyce Cassin, Northumberland Today
PORT HOPE - A seemingly innocent e-mail sent to local media outlets is a cause for investigation by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).

Last week, someone named ‘Michael Strong’ sent an e-mail stating: Families in the vicinity of St. Mary's School (10 Pine St. South) in Port Hope should be worried. Their children have been playing on a load of buried toxic radioactive waste in the playground for years. It’s publicly known that the school building was cleaned up, but “inside sources at the Port Hope Area Initiative” say there are almost 20,000 cubic meters of waste in the school yard also that isn't being talked about.

A call to Judy Herod, acting manager of stakeholder relations and communications, said that it’s well-known that high levels of radon gas were detected back in 1976/77 but that it was “cleaned up.” (Keep reading......



Part 1

In the Beginning - Port Radium Mine

The Port Radium mine opened in 1932 in the North West Territories. Radium is a radioactive material that is part of the decay chain of uranium. In the 1930s, radium was trumpeted as the new wonder drug to cure cancer and as a 'glow-in-the-dark' paint. It was the most expensive material on Earth at the time, commanding prices up to $125,000 per gram.
Canada's Department of Mines warned the Canadian Government in its 1932 'Blood Studies on Port Radium Miners' about the dangers of radiation and radon gas in particular. The report stated "that a hazard may exist in the breathing of air containing even small amounts of radon." No warning was given to the white miners or to the First Nations people from Deline who were hired as porters. The mine shut down and the radium industry collapsed in 1940 when its lethal health effects became known to the public.

One of the main uses for radium at the time was as a paint for the numbers on clock faces so they could be seen in the dark. The painting was done by hand, almost exclusively by women. To get a fine point on the brushes, the women would twirl the brush in their lips, thereby ingesting some of the radium. The health of the women deteriorated quickly; their jaws literally disintegrating.

The Canadian Government expropriated the mine in 1942 and created a company called 'Eldorado Nuclear Ltd' to supply uranium to the American nuclear weapons program. A Federal research team from Montreal sent to monitor the mine in 1945 reported "the radon content seems to be so high as to be definitely dangerous to the health of those working in the mine." Once again, no warning was given to the miners or to the First Nations people who transported the uranium ore.

Refer to: Somba Ke, a one-hour documentary on Port Radium and Deline by MacDonald Stainsby

Village of Widows
The First Nations people of Deline, North West Territories were hired to carry burlap sacks of uranium ore from the mine to the barges on Great Bear Lake. The bags of radioactive ore had to be handled several times on their journey. The workers slept on the bags of uranium all the way to Fort McMurray where they were transferred for shipment to the Port Hope Refinery.

In 1960, cancer claimed its first victim in Deline. They didn't know what it was because there had never been cancer there before. Over the next few years, most of an entire generation of men in the community died as a result of their exposure to the radioactive material. So many men died that Deline has become known as 'The Village of Widows.'

Cindy Kenny-Gilday from Deline wrote:
"Deline is practically a village of widows, most of the men who worked as labourers have died of some form of cancer. The widows, who are traditional women were left to raise their families with no breadwinners, supporters. They were left to depend on welfare and other young men for their traditional food source. This village of young men are the first generation of men in the history of Dene on this lake to grow up without guidance from their grandfathers, fathers and uncles. This cultural, economic, spiritual, emotional deprivation impact on the community is a threat to the survival of the one and only tribe on Great Bear Lake. It's the most vicious example of cultural genocide I have ever seen and its in my own home." 

The people of Deline did not know what was causing it. They contacted the Canadian Government for help. The Canadian Government did nothing despite illness rates twice as high as any other First Nations community in Canada. The Canadian Government waited until 1998 to inform Deline that it was their exposure to radiation that was killing them. They did not make this admission until after the people of Deline had identified the cause through their own research. Andy Orkin, an Ontario lawyer who worked on behalf of the Deline First Nations people said it best:
"We left them to die and hoped they would never ask any questions."


The Canadian government was repeatedly warned about the dangers from exposure to radiation from 1931 until 1976 by their own ministries and the American Government. Yet there is not a recorded instance in the 50 year period covered by this paper where the workers were warned of the danger. This is completely unacceptable behaviour from the Canadian government.
The other point to note is that First Nations people paid a much steeper price as a result of their exposure to the nuclear industry than the whites did. Deline, Serpent River and Blind River First Nations have paid a very high price to keep the lights on in Ontario.

End of Part 1
(Keep reading ...... )


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