Inuit Nunangat Stories
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Inuit Nunangat Stories
Arctic, Circumpolar stories curated by @Northern_Clips [Full story? Click on headline]
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Russia explores old nuclear waste dumps in Arctic

Russia explores old nuclear waste dumps in Arctic | Inuit Nunangat Stories |

"...Russia's drive for Arctic oil and gas is complicated by the presence of old nuclear waste dumps in the Kara Sea. 

The toxic legacy of the Cold War lives on in Russia's Arctic, where the Soviet military dumped many tonnes of radioactive hardware at sea.

For more than a decade, Western governments have been helping Russia to remove nuclear fuel from decommissioned submarines docked in the Kola Peninsula - the region closest to Scandinavia.

But further east lies an intact nuclear submarine at the bottom of the Kara Sea, and its highly enriched uranium fuel is a potential time bomb.

This year the Russian authorities want to see if the K-27 sub can be safely raised, so that the uranium - sealed inside the reactors - can be removed.

They also plan to survey numerous other nuclear dumps in the Kara Sea, where Russia's energy giant Rosneft and its US partner Exxon Mobil are now exploring for oil and gas. ... Secret dumps

On the western flank is a closed military zone - the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. It was where the USSR tested hydrogen bombs - above ground in the early days.

Besides K-27, official figures show that the Soviet military dumped a huge quantity of nuclear waste in the Kara Sea: 17,000 containers and 19 vessels with radioactive waste, as well as 14 nuclear reactors, five of which contain hazardous spent fuel. Low-level liquid waste was simply poured into the sea...."

Northern_Clips's insight:

"...As if to underline the strategic priorities, Russia is boosting its military presence in the Arctic and the Northern Fleet is getting a new generation of submarines, armed with multiple nuclear warheads...."

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Uranium Territory: Inuit campaign for referendum over mine in far north

Uranium Territory: Inuit campaign for referendum over mine in far north | Inuit Nunangat Stories |


Writing for the Dominion, Warren Bernauer explores the issues surrounding Nunavut's pro-uranium stance and the grassroots effort to let the people, not the government, decide the future of uranium mining at Baker Lake.BAKER LAKE—A conflict over a uranium mine in the far north, four decades in the making, has pitted members of a small Inuit community against their territorial government and a French company.

Inuit in the community of Baker Lake, located west of Hudson Bay in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut, have raised a hue over what they call a faulty, biased process and the Government of Nunavut's uncritical support for uranium mining.

John*, an Inuk from Baker Lake who spoke with The Dominion, said the Nunavut Government’s support for uranium mining was biased.

“The new government policy with regards to uranium, I think that’s biased,” he said. “Them knowing their own people don’t really want uranium mining and the impact it would have on the people. We’ve heard for years now the environmental impact it’s going to have in our community.”

He later commented, “I think there should be a ban on uranium uranium mining in Nunavut, period.”

Bill*, also an Inuk from Baker Lake, said that he was unsure whether or not the new policy truly reflects the opinions of Nunavummiut (“the people of Nunavut”).

“I think they should have held a [public] vote on the issue.”

Outrage over the government’s new policy has been expressed by Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit (Makita), (“The People of Nunavut Can Rise Up”), the region’s only environmental NGO, which called the process to develop the policy “biased” and “flawed.” High on the list of Makita’s complaints is the fact that the government relied on consultants with close ties to the uranium mining industry to develop its uranium policy.


In an e-mail to The Dominion, Makita member Jack Hicks took issue with the government policy’s assertion that uranium from Nunavut would only be used for “peaceful and environmentally responsible purposes.”

“We know where and how uranium from Nunavut could end up in nuclear weapons. Almost everyone I've ever spoken with—including people who are in favour of opening the territory to uranium mining—knows perfectly well that the [Government of Nunavut] and [Nunavut Tunngavik, Inc.] have zero control over how uranium will be used if it leaves the territory.”

“And given that the world has not found a way to safely store the highly radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, despite having spent countless billions of dollars trying, the idea that even non-military use of nuclear energy can be called 'environmentally responsible' is absurd,” Hicks said.

“What is tragically fascinating is that in a single generation the Inuit leadership has shifted from holding principled anti-nuclear positions (for example the Inuit Circumpolar Conference’s 1983 Resolution on a Nuclear Free Zone in the Arctic) to repeating the 'peaceful and environmentally responsible' lies of the politicians of the dominant society.”


*Due to the controversial nature of AREVA’s proposal, many people spoke under the condition of anonymity. In these cases, pseudonyms have been used.

Warren Bernauer is a graduate student at York University.

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