Communities from across WA facing the threats of uranium mining are gearing up to come to Perth for conversations, actions and to grow support for keeping WA nuclear free.
To the Board and Shareholders of Cameco.
Re: Proposed uranium mines at Kintyre and Yeelirrie, Western Australia
This is a joint statement from two different Aboriginal communities in West Australia. Martu from around the proposed Cameco and Mitsubishi Kintyre uranium mine and Traditional Owners from around the proposed Cameco Yeelirrie uranium mine.
We have a lot in common; both our Martu Old people and the Old people from Yeelirrie have fought against uranium mining and won. Now we are faced with new threats from your company. Our old people stopped Kintyre and our old people stopped Yeelirrie. Now your company is coming and trying to mine these two places. You can’t reverse what the Old people have said before.
That’s what we’re saying today. No, to mining at Kintyre and Yeelirrie.
Uranium must remain under the ground, safe in the earth. Nobody should disturb that earth because it will bring a lot of destruction. That uranium belongs to that place, underground. If you dig it up the country will be ruined, make the country no good.
Martu people said Kintyre is the area we go camping and hunting all the time, it is our short cut to visit family in Punmu. You don’t understand but our water in that country is connected, from the surface to underground. You can’t mess with that.
Traditional Owners from Yeelirrie said Yeelirrie is a big dreaming for the Seven Sisters that’s why we don’t want that area to be mined. It will poison all the animals. Plants and trees will die. People will get sick. We don’t want uranium coming through Leonora through our town and community. Other Traditional Owners said in our language Yeelirrie means place of death (mourning), we cannot disturb that place; we can’t even go there. If that uranium is dug up, if that goes somewhere overseas and makes a mess, if other people get sick that’s a problem for us because that’s our country that could be doing those things. All life will mourn and face death if uranium from Yeelirrie is dug out. Traditional owners say it will disturb the land and the paleo-channels – where we get out water from the ground.
You can talk about these mines but that country at Kintyre and Yeelirrie will stay how it is. We are going to stop any mining. It is too important for us. Our Old people are less but we have more young people being born. We have to look after them. We are talking up for our country. We have not and we will not give you permission to come on the land.
* Old people = Ancestors/ previous generation
From Traditional Owners in Leonora and Parnngurr communities, Western Australia.
Kalyu – limited edition x 200 on sale now – $290 inc. GST (see order form below)Kalyu (water) 2014 limited edition (200) Hahnemuhler 308 photo rag 100% cotton archival rag printed on epson 11880 with Ultrachrome pigment inks. Image size is 550mm x 330mm paper is 610 mm x 400mm
This artwork is a limited edition (200) print, a reproduction of the original painting Kalyu 2014. The painting was first exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney in the exhibition Martu Art from the far Western Desert, Martumili Artists and MCA in October 2014. The artwork was subsequently purchased by the MCA. The proceeds from the sale of this print will be used for the Martu Parnngurr Kintyre campaign to support members of the Parnngurr Community in their opposition of the Kintyre uranium mine. The artists have licensed their work for this purpose.
This painting was created by senior Martu artists in Parnngurr, work commenced in April 2014 and the painting was completed in June 2014. The painting depicts the Martu Native Title determination area in its entirety. While the painting references many aspects of Martu land management and ecological systems the focus of the painting is Kalyu (water). Buried deep below the obvious painted surface and the visible ground surface of the Martu desert lies a vast water table beyond the comprehension of the non Martu viewer. The visual depiction of the water table has been buried deep by layers of paint and story and vegetation but it is there. Kalyu (water) and the many forms of its existence are essential to life in the desert.This painting confirms these artists understanding of this country and their obligation to look after it. They are responsible for its wellbeing, just as their ancestors were and their descendants will be.
“Forever that uranium belongs to that place, underground. But its poison when you dig it up – when it gets exposed. Like a mother carrying a baby…. we are carrying the land, we are that close. This is the reason we hold our children close, our water close, our food, but mainly our waters. We look after our water, our main one Karlamilyi…. One way, leave it in the ground forever. Old people are less but we have more young people being born. We have to look after them. We are talking up for country.” – Wokka Taylor
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Today news broke that Gindalbie Metals Ltd has made a nomination to host the National Radioactive Waste dump at Badga Station in the Mid West of WA. The proposal by the troubled mining company was not discussed with the Widi Native Title claimant group, the public or the councillors of the Yalgoo Shire. This proposal has failed to meet expectations around community consultation and consent, with groups in the mid west already preparing to lodge their opposition to the project with Federal Minister Ian Macfarlane.
The Conservation Council of WA was alerted to the proposal by a concerned party and is calling on Federal Minister Ian Macfarlane to make all the National Waste nominations public. There has been one other confirmed nomination for a radioactive waste dump – at Kanpa near Warburton in WA’s east. The Kanpa proposal has received clear opposition from Ngaanyatjarra elders and the council has made comment that they do not support the proposal.
Another proposal has been made in Leonora, by a retired prospector. The local council has supported the nomination and sidelined local opposition. When the idea was first mentioned the Leonora community signed this letter and sent to Ian Macfarlane opposing a radioactive waste dump in WA. Widi Rejection Letter 130515 (2)
A short history of radioactive waste For 20 years successive Federal Governments have targeted remote Aboriginal communities to host a national radioactive waste facility. In 1998 the Federal Government announced plans to bury radioactive waste near Woomera in South Australia. After a long battle with South Australians and the SA Government, the Federal Government dropped the proposal in 2004. Following this decision the Federal Government then nominated three sites on Department of Defence land in the Northern Territory; Mt Everard, Harts Range and Fishers Ridge. In 2006 changes to legislation allowed additional site nominations from Aboriginal Land Councils in exchange for a financial compensation package. The Northern Land Council nominated a site on Muckaty Station in 2007, despite opposition from many Traditional Owners. The three Defence site nominations were withdrawn when the National Radioactive Waste Management Act passed in March 2012. This legislation contains many draconian provisions, including the ability to override any state or territory law that may hinder a national radioactive waste dump being constructed. In 2014 after a 7 year campaign by Traditional Owners from Muckaty supported by national environment groups and trade unions, the nomination for Muckaty Station was withdrawn. The decision not to rely on or progress the Muckaty nomination came mid-way through a federal court trial being run pro bono by Maurice Blackburn Social Justice Practice. The Federal Government has now preparing to launch a nationwide nomination process which opens up the nominations to land owners and local councils. What would go in the dump The national radioactive waste ‘facility’ would comprise an underground dump for low-level and short-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste, and an above-ground store for long-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste including spent nuclear fuel reprocessing waste. There is currently about 3700 cubic meters of radioactive waste which falls into these categories, approximately 278 truckloads. Currently, measured by volume, two sites hold well over 90% of the radioactive waste inventory: the Lucas Heights site south of Sydney, operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation; and 2000 cubic metres of very-low-level radioactive waste stored on Defence Department land near Woomera, South Australia. Radioactive waste poses a risk to public health and the environment at waste storage sites and along transport routes. According to the Medical Association for the Prevention of War: There is no level of radioactive waste that is regarded as risk-free, hence the need for appropriate management. Even low-level exposure poses a small but finite risk of harm, especially the development of cancers. The 2005 report of the National Academy of Sciences in the US, BEIR (Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation) VII, stated “A comprehensive review of available biological and biophysical data supports a “linear-no-threshold” risk model – that the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold and that the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans.” This risk is greater for children than for adults, and greater for females than for males. There are also risks of genetic damage to humans and other life forms. What to do with radioactive waste Peak national organisations, including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation recommend the federal government initiate an independent national commission to examine all aspects of radioactive waste production, storage and management. Now is the time to take a considered, consultative and science based approach to identify the best solution for radioactive waste management in Australia. The Federal Government is preparing to open a national nomination process for a radioactive waste dump site in November. We will be closely monitoring any proposals for nominations in Western Australia to ensure the nature of the facility and possible impacts are fully understood by community members. Financial incentives offered, to date, have grossly underestimated the long term costs and risks to communities from hosting radioactive waste. The continued targeting of remote and indigenous communities to host these facilities in exchange for funding of basic services has consistently been based on politics rather than science and it is time for a new direction and approach. Centralised facilities are not the only option for management. Along with peak national organisations we are calling for a national commission into radioactive waste production and management that is independent and transparent and considers all options. Broad consultation is essential to progress the long-term management of radioactive materials.
From April 14-16, communities from all over the world are gathering in Québec City, Canada, for the World Uranium Symposium. The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) has been invited to contribute stories of nuclear resistance and the impact of the nuclear industry on Aboriginal communities in Australia. Formed in 1997, ANFA brings together Aboriginal people and relevant civil society groups concerned about existing or proposed nuclear developments in Australia, particularly on Aboriginal homelands.
World Uranium Symposium & International Uranium Film Festival – April 14th 2015 Website: uranium2015.com/en Twitter: @uranium2015 Facebook: Uranium 2015 Website: uraniofestival.org/en/ Twitter: @ Facebook: International Uranium Film Festival