The Backyard Nuke and the Nuclear Question

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Two words that should never meet – Backyard nukes.  Lets take a dangerous material and decentralize it all over the world.

In development, for 25 million, a small nuclear power station can be installed in your backyard – ironically in the same position where fallout shelters were built a generation ago.  This is an idea that raises eyebrows in terms of safety in the least.  According to their website, a nuclear plant gets trucked in, the nuke buried, and a shed to monitor placed above.  Every five (or seven, or ten, the website seems a little unclear) years, the nuclear mechanism is dug up and replaced whole hog, perhaps getting some business strategy from software companies.  And the imagery from the website?  Natural scenes, people, flowers – all of which do not mix very well with nuclear fission.  This site reeks of Orwell – “Buried underground out of sight and harm’s way” “Think Big Battery…” “Environmentally friendly”

Nuclear has its high points.  1.  Low carbon emissions. 2.  Incredibly integrated development and international lobbying group, the IAEA. That’s right, development.


Black Mesa under attack from Peabody Coal

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at

Black Mesa under attack from Peabody Coal

From Enei Begaye:

Navajo and Hopi communities under threat for more coal mining on Black Mesa, Arizona
The U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) will soon release a “Record of Decision” on the “Black Mesa Project” Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This decision will determine if the now closed Black Mesa Mine will re-open more lands for coal strip mining, potentially relocate more families from Black Mesa and give Peabody Coal Company a Life-of-Mine permit to mine on Black Mesa. A “Record of Decision” in favor of Peabody Coal Company’s “Black Mesa Project” would also allow the company the use of the Navajo Aquifer, which has been a center of controversy for the past 30 years and give Peabody Coal Company the right to mine untouched coal reserves indefinitely. For more information on the OSM process & the FEIS at:\BlackMesaEIS.htm
Black Mesa is the ancestral homelands to thousands of Navajo and Hopi families. Black Mesa is regarded as a sacred mountain to the Navajo people and plays an integral role in the cultural survival for the future generations of both the Navajo and Hopi people. The “Black Mesa Project” will negatively impact all life that exists on Black Mesa. Coal equals pollution, water depletion, and global warming! O.S.M. has failed to let the people who will most be impacted know what is at stake and has failed to hear the concerns of residents of Black Mesa.
Support Navajo & Hopi People Going to DENVER!!
The fact that this federal agency has rushed the EIS process over the summer has alarmed Black Mesa residents to take action. If OSM doesn’t want to come to our homes, answer our questions and hear our concerns, then we will go to their offices!
Please, support Navajo and Hopi people as they travel to OSM’s regional headquarters in Denver, Colorado.
YOU can Support by Taking Action:
1. Join us in Denver! If you can make it to Denver or are already in Denver, please join us Monday December 8th at 10 am in front of the Office of Surface Mining building–Downtown Denver: 1999 Broadway Denver, CO 80202
2. Help us get to Denver! Many of the Navajo and Hopi people going to Denver are farmers, ranchers, elders, and grassroots people without a lot of financial resources. Any donation you can make will go a long way. An anonymous donor has graciously offered to match any donations made to get us to Denver. Visit our website: to donate – any amount is greatly appreciated!
Funds will go to:
* Helping Navajo & Hopi Elders & young people rent vans & pay for gas to Denver and back to Black Mesa.
* Lodging for elders or others who are in need of lodging.
* Providing food for elders and those who are in need.
3. PLEASE e-mail, mail, or fax a letter to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and/or the U.S. Secretary of Interior. Tell OSM NOT to issue a “Life-of-Mine” permit for Peabody’s “Black Mesa Project”!
Below is sample letter you can use and send to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and/or the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
Addresses to send letters to:
Dennis Winterringer
Western Regional Office
Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement
P.O. Box 46667
Denver, CO 80201-6667
Phone: 303-844-1400, ext 1440
Dirk Kempthorne
Department of Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240
for more information please call (928) 213-5909, cell# (928) 380-6296, cell # (928) 637-5281

Dirk Kempthorne
Department of Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240
Dear Secretary Kempthorne:
I am writing to request your urgent attention and immediate action regarding a matter of highest importance to the integrity of your trust responsibility and to the credibility of the Department of the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).
I request that you direct OSM to suspend all activity on the Black Mesa Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (DOI DES 08-49, OSM-EIS-33). The Record of Decision (ROD) for the Black Mesa Project Final EIS will be announced by Dec. 7, 2008 and I strongly urge you to not give the applicant, Peabody Western Coal Company, a permit to mine more coal in Black Mesa, AZ.
OSM has rushed to approve a life-of-mine permit, first without making the permit revisions sufficiently available for public review, and then without adequate environmental review. The power plant that previously used Black Mesa Mine coal shut down, and there is no other proposed use for the coal whose mining would be permitted by OSM. As a result, there is no actual proposed project involving Black Mesa Mine coal to be analyzed, making the pending EIS not only premature, but in direct conflict with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.
The current proposal would also grant the applicant continued access to Navajo Aquifer water for the life-of-mine operations. For over thirty years, Peabody Coal Company’s coal-slurry operation has a depleted precious drinking water and the drying of many sacred springs to the Navajo and Hopi as a result of using the Navajo Aquifer. The Navajo Aquifer is the only source of drinking water for Black Mesa tribal residents. OSM’s current proposal to grant a permit for a mine-with no potential customers-and indefinite use of water rights to the Navajo Aquifer is an affront to tribal communities, and if allowed to proceed, would be a clear failure to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s trust responsibility to the people of the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation.
Thank you for your consideration,
Sincerely,( your name and address)


Senecas Face Trouble on Cigarettes, Casino

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

CATTARAUGUS INDIAN RESERVATION, N.Y. (AP) — Newly elected Seneca Indian President Barry E. Snyder Sr. said he put a lot of thought into whether to pursue a fourth term as leader of the western New York American Indian nation.

Who can blame him?

With the state a signature away from collecting tax from tribal cigarette sales and a mega casino project mothballed because of economic and legal challenges, even by a former warrior nation’s standards there are tough battles ahead.

Read more on Reznet

Shakopee drops fight with Mdewakanton Sioux

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

The city of Shakopee is backing away from its fight to stop the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community from widening the borders of its reservation by several hundred acres, a move the city described a year ago as a threat to its future as a rapidly growing suburb.

But it says it has achieved a concession: The federal government has pledged, from now on, to bring the city in as an active player any time the casino-enriched tribe tries to make a similar move.

“And that will happen again,” Mayor John Schmitt said. “We’re certain of it.”

What Harper’s Removal Could Mean for Indigenous People

What Harper’s Removal Could Mean for Indigenous People

As you may have heard by now, Canada may be going through a bit of a change next week. The Liberals, New Democrats, and Bloc Quebecois have signed an accord to vote down Canada’s minority Conservatives and form a coalition government led by the Liberal Party.

If all goes according to plan, they will hand down a vote of no-confidence on Monday, at which time Governor General Michaelle Jean will decide whether to call a new election or let the Liberals try and govern.

If she chooses the former, the coalition says it will implement a multibillion-dollar plan to stimulate the troubled Canadian economy — their response to the Conservatives utter failure to come up with a plan of their own.

First Nations have also been mentioned as a priority in the coalition’s proposal. “They are on the record as saying they want to see improvements for First Nations on-reserve and urban Aboriginal communities across Canada,” reports Bob Kennedy for Turtle Island News.

“Especially promising, is the idea of bringing back the Kelowna Accord – [which] promised billions of dollars and a plan for a timetable that would improve the standard of living for Aboriginal Canadians.”

Of course, the effective removal of Stephen Harper and the conservative government means far more to Indigenous people than a chance to finally get some “return” (for the trillions of dollars that Canada has stolen over the years). It may also mark a fundamental shift in aboriginal policy.

The way it stands now, Indigenous People are subjected to a revolting and shameful form of paternalism – where they are denied the right of consent, excluded from having a say in matters that effect them, threatened for speaking up for themselves and punished for acting in self-defense.

The shift, at least according to the election promises of the Liberals and New Democrats — is that a new relationship will be formed. In the very least, it must be one where indigenous people are treated as adults — and not as Canadians, but as separate and distinct people with primary rights.

It’s even possible that the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights, which does not contradict the Constitution as the Conservatives proclaimed last year, will finally get ratified.

In all honesty, it’s hard to imagine any of this is possible. All the more reason that it must happen.

But, whether or not it does, indigenous people must continue with their work… creating our own initiatives to resolve the problems in our communities; building our own independent system of production, distribution, and consumption (an economy!); and most of all, by carrying ourselves as truly sovereign Nations. Not as Nation states with the power to crush our friends with impunity – but as self-sustaining communities, like our ancestors did for generations before us.

Malaysia’s indigenous people to get land rights for first time

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window. Malaysia’s government will for the first time grant ownership rights of land farmed by indigenous people, reports the Associated Press.

Jaafar Jantan, a spokesman for the government’s Orang Asli Affairs Department, said that some 20,000 Orang Asli families will obtain permanent ownership of 50,000 hectares of rural land currently belonging to state governments. The Orang Asli consist of 140,000 people from 18 ethnic tribes in Malaysia. They are some of the poorest people in the country and are often displaced by logging and development projects.

While indigenous rights groups will likely welcome the change, they may be perturbed by the second part of the proposal. Jaafar said that authorities plan to plant oil palm and rubber on lands granted to the Orang Asli so they will have a source of income. It was not clear whether the Orang Asli would be given the option to determine how their land will be used. Further if the land titles allow re-zoning of forest land for conversion to oil palm (as has been know to occur with protected areas in Malaysia), critics may see these changes as simply a ruse to expand cash crop production in areas where agricultural land — and domestic labor — is scarce. But if the titled land is already under agricultural cultivation and the Orang Asli are given guidance on plantation management, a shift towards oil palm and rubber could boost their income.

The True Cost of Nuclear Decommissioning

Nuclear decommissioning is an expensive business. It is estimated that the decommissioning of existing sites in the UK will cost in the region of 70 billion GBP, but this is not taking the timescale of such operations into account. As the process happens in stages, the true cost is hard to determine. An example is the cost of dismantling the Brennilis Nuclear Power Plant in France: to date, the facility had soaked up 400 million GPB (twenty times the estimate), and more work still needs to be done to make the site and surrounding area safe for future use.

In the UK the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is the body responsible for sourcing contractors to carry out nuclear site cleanup. It aims to provide cost effective decommissioning of existing sites and implementation of long term management of sites while they are being dismantled. It is not just power plants that require decommissioning; although concern about the safety of such nuclear establishments are at the forefront of public concern, there are also a number of other industries that require the same treatment when it comes to shutting down.

Particle accelerators, such as the much publicised Large Hadron Collider (LHC), uranium mines and isotope production plants all require the services of a safe decommissioning contractor. The official stance on the process is to return the buildings and the site itself to a safe and decontaminated state so that it can be dismantled or reused with no risk of nuclear contamination.