Rosalie Bertell Speaks Out

by Terry Wolfwood

This article was written in 1999 after Rosalie Bertell spoke in Victoria. In September 2001, Dr. Bertell received the Sean McBride Peace Prize, the first North American to be so honoured.

Last year the chief and a few band members of a Dene community from Great Bear Lake, NWT went to Hiroshima to apologize to the victims of the first atom bomb. Radium had been mined in their area in the 1920’s. In the 1940’s uranium mining started and produced the material to make the Hiroshima bomb. For years, the Dene people carried the sacks to barges for transport to the south. In that community now, there are no male elders – they died young of cancer – and many people have severe health problems. Yet when these Dene learned of their own part in the atom bomb, they went to Japan to say they were sorry. No other participants in that bombing have apologized.

With the poignant story, Dr, Rosalie Bertell began her talk at a public meeting on Hiroshima Eve, August 5, 1999.  

Dr. Bertell, an internationally-respected scientist, has researched nuclear environmental, health and military issues for decades. She is the recipient of many honorary doctorates, and the Right Livelihood Award. She has written many articles, spoken all over the world, an is the author of No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radio-active Earth, and Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War. In 1985, Dr. Bertell, Bishop Remi de Roo, Mel Hurtig, General Leonard Johnson, and Terry Wolfwood formed the panel at the People’s Inquiry into the Implications of Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental Test Range (CFMETR) in Nanaimo.

Her talk coincided with the public hearings on objections to the Federal Government’s expropriation of the BC Provincially-owned sea bed in Nanoose Bay. CFMETR is maintained at a cost of over $10 million by the Canadian Military so that the USA military can test it’s underwater missiles and detection systems.

She told the audience that many objections at the public hearing focused on the danger of a nuclear accident in the Georgia Straits. USA nuclear-powered vessels, probably nuclear-armed (it is USA policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons on its ships) visit the Esquimalt navy base near Victoria and make frequent stays at Nanoose Bay to test their weapon systems. Dr. Bertell warned that we have no viable emergency preparedness for a nuclear accident and that, judging from the lack of international response to the Chernobyl disaster, “we would get neither help nor sympathy” in case of an accident. She said that test missiles contain depleted uranium as it most closely simulates the properties of nuclear warheads. The MX missile tested in the South Pacific and the Cruise missile tested in Canada in the ’80s both carried depleted uranium. So-called conventional weapons used in Yugoslavia and Iraq by US and UK forces also contain depleted uranium.

Dr. Bertell spoke out on CBC TV recently, condemning the Canadian Navy and its use of DU for ‘exercises” in the Atlantic, dumping six tonnes of slugs with DU near fish spawning grounds. The Navy says it used DU in ammunition for the Phalanx guns with permission of the departments of fisheries and environment, beginning at the time of the Gulf War. Claiming there is no danger from radiation to fish or environment, the Navy has no intention to clean up its dumping. However it also says it stopped using DU a year ago because of its radioactivity! A brief mention on CBC TV of DU dumped off Vancouver Island has activists here researching for details. Canada is committed to not produce uranium for weapons, but under the Defense Production Sharing Agreement it sends uranium to the USA for enrichment. If we do not ask for it to be returned within 30 days, it becomes US property! Then it can be used freely for weapons and depleted uranium is given away for use in missile warheads and for as the USA navy says, ” as mass for test and evaluation purposes.”

Depleted uranium is really radioactive waste. When uranium is mined only one percent is weapons grade uranium 235, the rest, containing U238 , is called “waste”; this waste is radioactive and, like lead and cadmium and other heavy metals, it is chemically toxic. So much waste or depleted uranium is produced in the USA that, in the 1970s, there was a plan to use it in stove, car and bike manufacture. Protests stopped that, so it is now given to weapons and bullet makers. Depleted uranium is also used as ballast in large commercial airplanes and cruise ships. Dr. Bertell said that depleted uranium is also preferred over expensive, imported tungsten because of its impact properties. The friction of impact on hard objects like coral reefs, tanks and ships, hardens uranium. According to the Pentagon, uranium goes through its target like “a knife through butter”, but tungsten “mushrooms”. She explained that uranium ignites on impact and produces glass-like respirable-size radioactive particles that can travel for 100 km. and enter lungs and then travel through organs and blood systems and warned that if a test missile at Nanoose Bay hit a hard underwater target, these radioactive particles could be released over a large populated area of BC. Along with others, Dr. Bertell believes that depleted uranium is responsible for the “Gulf War Syndrome” in over 100,000 US veterans. Their symptoms include immune-deficient infections, an AIDS-like syndrome, new kidney and liver diseases, leukemia, and other cancers. Their children also suffer birth deformities and defects.

Similar conditions have been found by Dr. Siegwart-Horst Gunther, president of the Austrian Yellow Cross, in Iraqi children. Over half a million children have died in Iraq of war-related causes since 1991. Now the same strange diseases are found in Yugoslavian children. Parallels are being drawn with studies of Chernobyl victims, but detailed verifiable data are hard to find.  The World Health Organization, the UN agency about which Dr. Bertell says, “we have warm, fuzzy feelings”, has an agreement requiring it to submit all data about the health effects of nuclear accidents to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global nuclear booster, for pre-approval before disclosure and that it will never release information detrimental to IAEA. Bertell said that in May, 2000, the WHO Board, the World Health Assembly of health ministers of UN member nations will meet, and that there is an active campaign we can support to have WHO end this agreement.

Dr. Bertell also alerted us to a UN General Assembly resolution which will call, this fall, for the end of the IAEA mandate, as it calls on IAEA both to promote nuclear power and to protect people from its effects–clearly a powerful conflict of interest!

Focusing on the greater implications of the use of Nanoose Bay, Dr, Bertell said there may a connection to the USA plans for war in space in the Arctic. The USA is still developing “Stars Wars” technology. Recently as part of the so-called Kodiak, Alaska, in an attempt to intercept them by other missiles launched from northern California. It has also tested interception over the south Pacific in September this year. She said that the impact of two depleted uranium-carrying missiles near BC could spray aerosol radioactive particles over our coastal communities. The possibility of using Nanoose for sea-launched missiles in this program, as well as a tracking station in the BMD, makes Nanoose important to the increased USA military buildup.

According to Senator Doug Roche, Canada will participate in the BMD, to be deployed in 2005, and will contribute $6.6 billion to the scheme. This plan violates Anti-ballistic Missile treaties and makes Canada a complicit part of a complex system of surveillance and communication technologies that link to USA war making capacity and its intent to be the militarily dominant nation of the 21st century at any cost. USA military claim that they are going to fight in space and fight from space in blatant violation of the Outer Space Treaty and international law.

Dr. Bertell went on to talk about a little known project called High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project (HAARP), which is being developed in Alaska. This ionospheric heater can cause major changes in the ionosphere which protects the earth for radiation from space. She referred to Angels don’t Play this HAARP by Begish and Manning. They explain how HAARP manipulates the Electrojet, a powerful direct current electricity belt that circles the globe from pole to pole with more electricity than all human-made systems on earth. HAARP will convert this to alternating current to create an antenna that will communicate with submerged submarines. HAARP can also cause major weather disturbances (it may be responsible for Hurricane Mitch–its main area of effect is the Caribbean), major disruption of power and communication systems and emit extremely low frequency waves that can effect the health of people and animals. Dr. Bertell said USA funding for this project is supposedly directed to earth-interior mapping, to detect oil and gas reservoirs, and weapon caches.  In case of major communication system breakdown, the Ground Wave Emergency Network (GWEN) is being built in the USA and Australia to provide USA military an underground communication system.

The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN ) is a radar system that collaborates with HAARP. Operated remotely from John Hopkins University, Maryland, it monitors ionosphere modification. SuperDARN stations are located in the USA, Iceland, Finland, Antarctica and Saskatoon, Kapuskasing and Goose Bay in Canada. A new site with 20 radar towers is in Prince George. Dr Bertell quotes the USA funding proposal, “Our Canadian SuperDARN colleagues are actively pursuing funding for a Companion Radar to be located in western Canada. They are seeking support from their national funding agencies, the international SuperDARN community and Canadian power companies whose facilities can be affected by space weather effects.” The Canadian scientist promoting SuperDARN is G. Sofko of the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.

Dr. Bertell pointed out that Nanoose Bay, where USA submarines are often in port, would be a possible site to aim the alternating current antenna of HAARP. All participation of Canadian territory and military in USA war preparations makes us a target in any global conflict the USA enters if world domination is being challenged. Canada, is already deeply committed to USA militarism in NATO , the NATO war in Yugoslavia, and the UN/US war on Iraq.

The USA intends to remain the world’s dominant military power. This has never been stated as clearly as in NATO in the Balkans by Clark et al, published by the International Action Center, USA. The authors quote the Pentagon Defense Planning Guide of 1992, “…the US must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they not need to aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests….fundamental importance to preserve NATO … the channel for USA influence and participation in European security affairs … the world order is ultimately backed by the USA…the USA should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated.”

Dr. Bertell said that the world is operating on an ecological deficit that has gone from 125% of replaceable resources annual use in 1992, to 133% in 1997. If human population grows and consumes at the present rate, but stops militarization, the deficit would end and we would not use more resources than the earth can replenish. She emphasized that the northern world did not demobilize after the WW II and the war machine has grown unabated since 1945. This is the first time in human history that the end of a war has not brought demobilization. Since the end of the Cold War, which many hoped would bring disarmament, military buildup has accelerated. Dr. Bertell blames the constant state of war preparedness for many of the stresses and problems in our present world. Canada is increasingly dominated by USA corporations in industry, resources and social services and our compliance with USA military objectives of world domination grows as our sovereignty and culture are diminished and impoverished.

Dr. Bertell urges people in BC to call for a complete public environmental enquiry into the CFMETR Nanoose Bay facility where we can use this information and our knowledge to raise sufficient public concern to close the base. We also need a full enquiry into the purposes and structures of our military establishment and industry; we Canadians must be sovereign over our own security.


The Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation organized Dr. Bertell’s visit to Victoria. T.W. wrote this article ( in 1999) using material from Dr. Bertell’s recorded conversations and public speeches, her books and papers, as well as information from Angels Don’t Play This HAARP, Dr. Nick Begich & Jeane Manning, Earthpulse Press, USA; NATO in the Balkans, Ramsey Clark et al., International Action Center, USA; Third World Resurgence #107, Dr. Siegwart-Horst Gunther, and an address to the Senate of Canada by Senator Douglas Roche.


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