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Summer Solstice Online Summit Brings Together Activists Opposed to Nuclear Dumps in Canada and UK


Summer Solstice St Bees, Cumbria - under this ocean a very hot nuclear dump is planned.


NFLA media release, 26 June 2023, For immediate use

Summer solstice summit held to form ‘transatlantic partnership for protest’

On the Northern Hemisphere’s longest day, the UK/Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities chaired an online summit to bring together activists opposed to nuclear waste dumps in Canada and the UK. The summit was co-hosted by the NFLA and our Canadian partners, ‘We the Nuclear Free North’.

In the UK, Nuclear Waste Services (NWS), a division of the government funded Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, continues its work to site a Geological Disposal Facility in West Cumbria or East Lincolnshire, whilst in Canada the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NWMO), a nuclear industry led body, is seeking to locate a Deep Geological Repository at one of two sites in Ontario. Though supported by some local and state authorities, these plans are opposed by many local people.

For some time, the NWS and NWMO have been meeting to exchange knowledge and experience, with participation from politicians in Cumbria and Ontario. A recent ‘global partnership’ has also been agreed between bodies representing local authorities with nuclear facilities, or with an ‘interest’ in having such facilities, in the UK and Canada to provide them with a ‘voice’. The NFLA was keen to bring together anti-nuclear groups from the two nations to forge similar links.

The opportunity arose after British campaigners wrote to the Premier of Ontario supporting a petition delivered to the Provincial Government by their Canadian counterparts calling for the ‘proximity principal’ to be adopted when managing nuclear waste. Nuclear waste would be retained and placed under ‘rolling stewardship’ at the power plants which first created it rather than trucked thousands of miles, placed in indefinite storage and then buried in a nuclear waste dump. This mirrors the position of the NFLA which also supports localised storage and the active management of waste in the UK.

Although the official names given to the facilities in Canada and the UK may vary, campaigners fear that their impact will be the same, whether the waste is situated beneath the seabed of the Irish or North Sea or buried beneath the traditional lands of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

NFLA English Forum Chair, Councillor David Blackburn, who chaired the summit, sought to articulate these concerns: “People on both sides of the Atlantic are up in arms about the plans, fearful of the destruction of their natural environment and the adverse impact on their lives, livelihoods and communities during the period of construction and operation of these dumps, but most of all they remain concerned that the high-level radioactive waste will over time escape its confinement and contaminate the land and waterways in their locality, whether by accident, degradation or inadvertent disturbance by future generations of humans”.

As Canadian and British campaigners have a lot in common and can learn from one another, a meeting to discuss cooperation seemed to the NFLA a logical next step. Several email exchanges with Brennain Lloyd of ‘We the Nuclear Free North’ led to arrangements being swiftly made.

Councillor Blackburn explained why it was held: “The nuclear industry on both sides of the Atlantic is bankrolled with seemingly limitless money, and supported by self-serving politicians, lobby groups, PR firms, and many elements of the mainstream media. Anyone campaigning against a civil nuclear project must at times feel overwhelmed and despondent, even if a member of a wholly supportive community, in the face of the relentless and well-resourced assault made by the nuclear industry and its supporters to advance their agenda.

“As the industry marshals its resources and forms alliances so too must its opponents. This meeting was the first opportunity for Canadian and British activists to get to know one another and begin to share their experiences and knowledge to make better use of their greatest shared resource, their passion and commitment and their ability to mobilise other members of their community to join them in protest. It is my hope that this will be the first step in a process that will lead to the establishment of an effective transatlantic partnership for protest”.

Following the success of this first event, it is intended to arrange a rolling series of further online meetings at which updates from each of the prospective campaigns can be given and a subject of common interest can be tabled for discussion and action.

Invited to this first summit were representatives from:

Canada

Canadian Environmental Law Association (https://cela.ca/)

Citizens Network on Waste Management

Nuclear Free Thunder Bay

Nuclear Transparency Project (https://nucleartransparency.ca/)

Protect Our Waterways - No Nuclear Waste (https://www.protectourwaterways.org/)

We the Nuclear Free North (https://wethenuclearfreenorth.ca/)

UK

Guardians of the East Coast (https://www.gotec.org.uk/)

Millom against the Dump / South Copeland against GDF (https://southcopelandagainstgdf.org.uk/)

Radiation Free Lakeland / Lakes against the Dump (https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/)

UK/Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/)

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For further information about this media release please contact NFLA Secretary Richard Outram by email to richard.outram@manchester.gov.uk or telephone 07583097793


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