The call-out for this Occupy London (Ontario) protest simply said -
“We are taking aim at the banks with this action. Meeting at Covent Market west side entrance @ 4pm, then move on to downtown banks to express our opposition to the predatory financial institutions and the economic system that holds down the working class.”
Around the same time, there also was a meditation circle here in London today — which also was in solidarity with the occupation movement.
Here are some brief notes about our banks action -
Photos here were taken around the London towers for three banking corporations. We had a brief rally inside the RBC office/branch building. The first set of doors at the TD-Dominion tower (the “City Centre”) were locked when we arrived. Protestors laughed at the staff on the other side of the glass. On another side of the building, a staff member locked the doors when a few of us walked over there. But three of us were able to get in through another entrance — which then was locked behind us as we left. By that time, the march had arrived at the Scotiabank tower, which is called “One London Place”. It’s the tallest building in the city.
We also stopped at a BMO branch which wouldn’t let us in, and another TD-Dominion branch down the street locked an entrance as we arrived.
Several police officers were tagging along throughout the protest. The guy with the video camera recorded us the entire time. The police also recorded us during another recent Occupy London march.
Our march passed by a vacant retail space where some of the salvaged items from the evicted occupation site were being made available. A few Occupy London activists already were in there when we arrived, and others went in as the march passed by.
He also mentions:
- The World Health Organization (WHO)’s findings that Sarnia has the worst particulate pollution in Canada
- TODA’s water pollution
- The now inactive, and possibly dead, Lambton Community Health Study
- Free toxic tours around Chemical Valley
This interview follows up another one in which Zak gives updates about how shale gas will be or might be used around Sarnia-Lambton’s Chemical Valley.
Many of these topics had come up in conversation; we then decided to to record some of what Zak has to say about the situations around where he lives.
Nova Chemicals in October, 2011. Photo by Dallas Sinopole.
In this interview, Zak speaks about:
- Nova Chemicals, and how this company plans to use shale gas — for decades
- A related BioAmber facility which will be processing a substance that is similar to the GHB rape drug
- Labour concessions which are connected with these projects
- The Lambton Generating Station, and the possibility that it will be burning ‘natural’ gas (shale gas?) in the future
This is the facility where “Clean Harbors” handles petro-chemical wastes from other industries around this area of Lambton county -
The company that likes to be known as “Clean Harbors” burns toxic wastes at this location. As they say on their web site, they incinerate “hazardous waste” that comes to them “in liquid form.”
This company also points out how “the Lambton Facility is the only licensed, integrated hazardous waste management facility within Ontario. In fact, due to the high capital investment and specialized operating requirements … , there are relatively few, comparable facilities in North America.” The other Chemical Valley industries around Sarnia-Lambton have plenty of hazardous waste to get rid of, so “Clean Harbors” also buries wastes underground. They take in waste from other industries as well.
Chemical Valley industries are arranging to use shale gas supplies that very likely could be contaminated with radon, given how these gas feedstocks are extracted through fracking — a technique that is used to retrieve gas from shale rock located very deep underground. Two Texas companies have agreed to send this shale gas from the northeastern United States to the Nova Chemical plant in Sarnia, and there is wider industry support for these imports of gas from fracking.
For the sake of the health and safety of the residents of Sarnia-Lambton — and others around the region — it is important that we apply the precautionary principle to this issue. We should assume that shale gas could come with radon contamination, if we cannot prove otherwise.
This gas is from shale that often contains significant quantities of uranium, as well as the products of its radioactive decay, including radium and radon, a colourless, odourless, and intensely radioactive gas. Because it is common in many rock formations throughout North America and elsewhere, radon is responsible for most of our daily exposure to damaging radiation. Radon gas that seeps up from subterranean rock formations often accumulates in basements — sometimes resulting in dangerous levels. Lung cancer caused by breathing radon contaminated air already is estimated to cause 25,000 deaths per year in the United States alone and is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking.
Being car free helps us to be free from tar sands impacts. In the meantime, we are becoming more and more dependent on dirtier and more expensive fossil fuel sources — including Alberta’s tar sands. Relative to conventional oil, tar sands crude has far more intense climate impacts, and the extraction of tar sands drains and pollutes immense amounts of fresh water. There are many terrible impacts.
At the zombie walk, we used a “Turtle Island” tailings pond to catch our oily run-off, before and after the walk.
Across the street we taped up a banner that calls for a better world, where banks don’t invest in tar sands operations. We had this banner up in front of a TD – Canada Trust building.
In addition to photos in the set shown below, more photos from the zombie walk are posted here.
Fracking is a toxic, dangerous, and wasteful form of natural gas extraction that we may see around London, Ontario. The water pollution is the worst of the fracking impacts. Tap water has become flammable after fracking is done to break gas out of nearby shale rock. A stew of toxic chemicals is pumped into each gas well, and radium is one of many underground substances that can be unintentionally released during this extraction.
In spite of all of those dangers, there are plans for shale gas exploration around London - http://stopfrackingontario.wordpress.com/fracking/in-ontario/london/
In addition to water contamination, we also should be concerned about explosion risks, air pollution, water depletion, methane greenhouse gas releases, earthquakes, increased truck traffic, and deforestation.
If you are worried about all of these threats from fracking, please come out to this rally to show your concern, and learn more about what we are up against.
Two sets of photos from the protest can be seen here (on Facebook) and here (on Flickr).
The shale gas conference was about profits that corporations could gain by securing U.S. gas exports for the petro-chemical industries in Sarnia-Lambton. On the Ontario side of the border, those arrangements basically would come down to keeping the Chemical Valley status quo going, with possible savings for the companies purchasing gas supplies from U.S. shale (at least until Ontario shale gas is made available).
Industry representatives travelled out to their closed-door conference from more than one province, and from multiple U.S. states. They came in to support and extend the hype about fracking ‘benefits without trade-offs.’ This spin was about imports from states around West Virginia, but the same points will be made about Ontario fracking, arranged by the same industry players, who will try to profit from shale gas here. Yet, fracking could be done in Ontario to export gas to the United States, or to the Alberta tar sands.
Videos from our rally are posted on Facebook — here and here.
Some more photos from our protest can be seen here, here, and here.