Peter Watts: Uranium should stay in the ground

Arabunna man Peter Watts is the co-chair of ANFA, the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance. Formed in 1997, ANFA (formerly the Alliance Against Uranium) brings together Aboriginal people and relevant NGOs concerned about existing or proposed nuclear developments in Australia, particularly on Aboriginal homelands.

This year, Watts represented ANFA at the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World, held in Yokohama, Japan, in the wake of the Fukushima disasters.

At a time when the Japanese people were grappling with their government’s plans to reactivate the 50 reactors switched off following the catastrophic failures of multiple reactors in Fukushima, Peter brought a message from Australia; expressing shame that Australian uranium was implicated in the disaster; describing the local impacts of uranium mining; and calling all nations to work together to end the nuclear industry. The transcript and video of his speech is below.

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My name is Peter Watts.

I am an Aboriginal man, an Arabunna man, from Australia. Thank you for inviting me here to tell my story.

My story includes nuclear weapons.

My traditional lands were affected by the bombing that took place in the 1950s. The British government blew up nuclear weapons on the land that belongs to the neighbouring group but radiation came down on all of us, including my people and land.
I feel strong solidarity with the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki because I know what a nuclear weapon can do — to the health of all living things.

I am very happy to participate in this meeting about shutting down the nuclear fuel chain.
For me this means stopping uranium mining — all of the world's nuclear problems begin with uranium mining.

Australia has 33% of the world’s uranium and sells to 14 countries — the US, France, Britain, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Canada and South Africa.

We need pressure on the governments of all of these countries to stop buying uranium.

The lands of the Kookotha people, the group that are from the land next to mine, are currently occupied by the world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton.

The mine is called Olympic Dam and it uses 33 million litres of ground water per day, for free. The water is drawn by pipe from my land.

Since the beginning of time, Aboriginal people have taken care of our land Australia.
But the uranium mine poisons the water, land and life through releasing radiation.

When the triple disaster happened here in Japan in March last year, we expressed deep sympathy and solidarity with those who suffered so much and who will continue to suffer for a very long time.

But we were devastated to learn that Australia sold uranium to TEPCO and we feared that Australian uranium was part of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

In October it was confirmed that Australian uranium was in every single reactor at Fukushima when the earthquake and tsunami hit.

A delegation is here from Australia to express our deep regret that uranium sourced from our country will continue to cause terminal toxic radiation exposure for generations, a fact that took seven months to be finally revealed.

We are here also to pledge to redouble our efforts to finally shut down this toxic industry. By working together, by showing the full impact of the entire nuclear chain – from the uranium to the waste — we will finally shut down this toxic, expensive, dangerous and unnecessary industry.

Our job is to stop uranium from our country contaminating people and lands here and overseas. We take this job seriously. Together we can do it.

Please come to learn more about what is happening in Australia at 3pm today and again tomorrow at 10am.

We want to invite you to all sign postcards to our Prime Minister to say please no more uranium from our country to Japan. Please help us stop uranium mining.

Thank you.

[Republished from .]