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TANAC was formed in response to the issue of nuclear waste management in Timmins.  The issue was raised in the local media in march of 2004, as they reported on a "public information session" hosted by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).  With the increased focus on nuclear waste came an increased interest for those in the community. For some, interest leads to action.

An informal gathering of interested folk created dialogue that considered various concerns, opinion, and experiences and the need for more gatherings of the sort.  It was decided at one of these gatherings that the group should be formalized, and after much deliberation, TANAC was chosen as the groups official name.

Since then however, the group has taken on various shapes and sizes, focused on numerous objectives and strategies, seen moments of tension and moments of ease, even moments of discord.  But one thing has remained the same. A consistent desire by a group of people to understand and raise awareness about a problem we have contributed to for far too long now without taking into consideration the consequences we face as collective members of society.


Municipal Silence and Confrontation as Strategy

 The impact received by media coverage of the NWMO’s meeting was staggering.  It left many concerned and confused.  In such a state, and in search of answers, questions were posed to our municipal government.  After all, this is an issue that concerns us at a municipal level, and council is our first line of representation.

 Answers don’t come easy at City Hall however, as it seemed many were tight lipped in response to questions posed to them by Larry Levesque, a member of TANAC  acting on our behalf.  At the heart of the question, was "where does city council stand on the issue of nuclear waste management?"  and, those in attendance seemed to have left with more questions than when they had arrived.

Now anybody who lives in a democratic society knows that the values that entails offers us many options for action.  And anybody who values the rights offered to us by democratic institutions will feel an obligation to exercise those rights.  They are granted to us in order to create transparency in the institutions that supposedly represents us in times such as these, where council refuses to answer legitimate inquires by those who elected them.  Not to mention the seriousness of the issue at hand.

 We have the right to receive answers from our representatives when we face them with legitimate questions.  We also have the right to make public displays illustrating their breach of trust when we feel they are not serving there elected duties.  These are rights that have been granted to us through millennia of relentless struggle and sacrifice.  It is absurd to have these sacrifices be offered in vain.

 Tactically speaking, (a) we needed an approach that would draw out the answers we were seeking, (b) we felt focus was needed on the important issue of nuclear waste management.  Far too often, it is the issues that have the biggest impact in our lives that lack the most attention.  Councils’ tight-lipped response offered us a valuable opportunity.  A demonstration such as was organized by Sahaja Freed, loaded with signs, props and costumes, was of the likes rarely (if ever) seen in Timmins.  This, many felt, would be effective at drawing attention to the issue, regardless if we were to inevitably lose some within our ranks that deemed our measures as extreme or superfluous.

 At that level, we claim success, as the attention and media coverage was more than we could have ever expected.  Not to mention, the number of concerned phone calls we received, positive comments directed to TANAC members for there efforts and the comforting amount of people who dared tolerate miserable weather for hours to make the their positions and concerns known in front of City Hall.  (And we cannot forget to mention the endless hours of dedicated time it took to orchestrate such an event from those whose time is already well consumed by there jobs, higher educational pursuits, raising of children or operating of their businesses.)

 Not only did we bring more needed attention to this issue, but with this added attention came dialogue.  To us, that was the most important thing, creating open discussion and sharing of knowledge and ideas that inevitably could contribute to creating an informed community able to view nuclear waste management from all perspectives and implications.


By now a lot of people are asking a very legitimate question, “Who or what is the NWMO exactly?”  NWMO is short for Nuclear Waste Management Organization, they were formed and are acting in response to the federal Nuclear Fuel Waste Act that requires the corporate producers and owners of nuclear waste to study nuclear waste disposal methods and make a recommendation to the federal government by November 2005.  For some this fact in itself generates grave concern.

An organization with a mandate to research disposal options for nuclear waste, would naturally be a cause for concern if it were controlled by the nuclear industry.  This very point was made in a recommendation by the Seaborne Panel to the federal government after a lengthy 10 year assessment in regards to nuclear waste disposal.  The public, it seems, has a general distrust of the nuclear industry at large.

According to the NWMO’s website:

“The Board is currently composed of representatives from Canada’s three main producers of used fuel, Ontario Power Generation, Hydro-Quebec and N.B. Power.”

There President Elizabeth Dowdeswell, they claim: “has served as Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Program … been a member of numerous Canadian and International boards …” and the like.  But in this beautiful introduction to a woman most of us probably never heard of before, they fail to mention that Elizabeth Dowdeswell is a member of ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project.

All this should raise yet another question.  If there is such distrust towards the nuclear industry at large, how much trust can be put into an organization that chairs member of the very same industry?