Toronto Activists Stop Train Over Uranium Plant

4 Feb

“I’m content to be a criminal if your laws aren’t principled.” – Zach Ruiter

Cross posted from the Toronto Star    uranium_protest.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox

A group of anti-nuclear protesters affiliated with the Idle No More movement stopped a train in the Davenport area on Sunday after their demonstration against a nearby uranium facility migrated onto CP Rail tracks.

“The plan is to shut it down, and do whatever it takes to shut it down,” said organizer Zach Ruiter, standing beside the tracks with an Idle No More flag and a placard hanging from his neck that read: “Just say no to radioactive waste.”

The GE-Hitachi plant on Lansdowne St. near Dupont St. caused an uproar in November when the surrounding community learned the facility in their midst had been processing uranium dioxide powder into pellets since 1965.

GE Canada has said the uranium pellets — shaped and inspected here before being trucked to another plant in Peterborough, where they’re assembled into fuel bundles — are “not dangerous.”

Sunday’s protest began at around noon with a round dance near the uranium facility and then moved east to the rail crossing at Bartlett Ave. and Dupont at around 3:30 p.m., Ruiter said.

It was jointly organized by Ruiter and members of the Saskatchewan-based Committee for Future Generations, an anti-nuclear group that includes people from Dene, Cree and Métis communities that oppose uranium mining, he said.

At around 4:30 p.m., roughly 20 protesters shouted anti-nuclear slogans and waved banners in front of a blocked CP train. A similar, if not larger, group of police was among them.

The tracks were clear by 5:30 p.m., when the protesters posed for a group photo and then left.

CP Police Insp. William Law was happy the protest was peaceful but said it was “very dangerous” for demonstrators to block the tracks. “They were just very lucky the train was able to stop in time,” he said.

Ruiter said their goal was to draw attention to the plant operators’ lack of transparency on emissions from the plant, and how much waste is entering the local sewage system. Last year, the company held open meetings with politicians and concerned residents, pledging to improve communications with the community.

When asked why they blocked the railroad tracks, Ruiter said CP trains carry uranium powder to the facility. He added that he’s prepared to break the law for his cause, particularly if it protects the uranium facility’s existence.

“I’m content to be a criminal if your laws aren’t principled,” he said.

Neighbourhood resident Stella Walker was out to get groceries when she came upon the demonstration. She said she was surprised to learn of the uranium facility back in November, and supports efforts to shut it down.

“I wouldn’t expect anything to do with uranium in an urban setting,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like a wise thing.”

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