Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nuclear waste opponent on hunger strike

By Jason Warick
The StarPhoenix
September 20, 2011

Photograph by: Richard Marjan, The StarPhoenix
An elderly man from Northern Saskatchewan is on a hunger strike to push for a ban on nuclear waste storage in the province.

Emil Bell, 70, was in Saskatoon Tuesday as part of a northern delegation speaking at the University of Sasaktchewan and other events.

Bell said he’s consumed nothing but water and green tea for the past 15 days to call attention to the issue of nuclear waste storage. At a doctor’s appointment Tuesday in Saskatoon, he was told his blood pressure and other measures remain stable. The doctor told him to at least drink protein shakes or vegetable juice, and he said he’ll consider it.

When asked how long he intends to keep fasting, he said; “I haven’t really thought about it.”

Although the provincial government has declared Saskatchewan residents are not ready to consider nuclear waste storage, it has not passed legislation banning it, as Manitoba has, Bell and others note.

Bell also wants individual First Nations to pass bans.

Several northern Saskatchewan communities have declared interest in exploring the issue. A nuclear industry-funded group, the Nuclear Waste Managment Organization, is conducting various tests and guaging local opinions. The process could take years, and will only be implemented if the community accepts it and other conditions are met such as correct rock formations.

Supporters note the jobs and economic benefits of such a project, as well as Saskatchewan’s responsibility to store the spent uranium after profiting from its extraction.

Opponents have various safety and environmental concerns, such as the effect on waterways.

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