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Uranium blockade/Saskatchewan

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(November 3, 1989) On 26 August 1989 three peace activists from Uncle Louie's Catholic Worker Community In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan blocked traffic in and out of the Canadian Mineral and Energy Company's (CAMECO) Saskatoon shipping depot.

(320.3210) WISE Stockholm - CAMECO is the world's largest uranium producer and was formed by the merger in 1988 of the Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation (SMDC) and Eldorado Nuclear Ltd. (ENL).

At the end of September 1989 the Cigar Lake uranium mine project claimed its first victim. While working in the underground mine, a worker was crushed by a large machine. The Cigar Lake mine in northern Saskatchewan is slated to be the largest and richest in the world. The Cigar Lake deposit includes 110,000 metric tonnes of uranium at an average grade of 12%, and a further 40,000 tonnes at an average grade of 4%. What is more, there are pockets of uranium in the deposit that grade up to 60%. The site of the deposit has been known to local Indian people for a long time. No one has trapped there because all the snow cover melts in the winter.

The three activists were supported at the blockade by 30 people, including two from Toronto who had walked from the east coast of Canada to Saskatoon to raise awareness about the uranium industry and Canada's involvement in nuclear weapons proliferation. In a statement to the press, the three referred to a resolution passed by Saskatchewan church leaders in 1983 calling for a "halt to uranium mining for the sake of peace". They point out, however, that what has happened is not a halt, but the continued expansion of the uranium industry.

The two walkers from Toronto, who have walked across Canada with their six children, are from the Walk For World Survival. The walk was made to support the recommendations made at the International Uranium Congress held June 1988 in Saskatoon (see WISE News Communique 295.3016).

As part of the blockade, one of the walkers, Marty Smith, tried to get into the CAMECO office to prosent letters gathered from across the country in support of the walk. The door to the office was locked, but after ringing the doorbell three times, a company executive quickly accepted the letters and closed the door again.

Rita Mirwald, spokesperson for CAMECO, stated on a local radio program that the blockade had not disrupted operations at the depot because it was not being used anyway. The protesters, however, had been engaging in peace vigils at the site for over ten months and report that there is normally a high level of traffic in and out of the shipping yard. It is clear that any business normally done through the depot had been halted for a day, a small but significant victory.

Source: Stephanie Sydiaha (Canada)

Contacts: SOS, Box 9395, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7K 7E9
Uncle Louie' s Catholic Worker Community, Lorne Penna, #3-1017-22nd St. West, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7M 052, Tel: 306-652-8754.