Events Take Action

Indigenous Peoples for a Nuclear Free Future

Presenter(s): Agnes Williams
Date: August 24, 2021, 6-7:30 pm

This is the fourth workshop in a series hosted by the The West Valley Action Network. 

Register for the 8/24 session here:

To help stop invisible but long lasting, dangerous radioactivity from getting into our air, water, soil, food and environment join us for a monthly series to learn about the West Valley NY Nuclear Waste Site. One of the most radioactive buildings at that site, and at all the nuclear power and weapons sites, in the country is slated to be demolished starting in 2021. The West Valley Action Network groups are calling for an enclosure during demolition and offsite real-time, publicly-reported radiation monitoring to see if radioactivity is getting out.

This workshop will feature Agnes Williams sharing indigenous perspectives for a nuclear-free future.

Agnes F Williams is a Wolf Clan enrolled Seneca (Haudenosaunee/Iroquois) who was born and grew up downstream from the West Valley NY Nuclear Waste Site on the Cattaraugus Creek of the Seneca Nation of Indians near Irving NY.  She is a sister, auntie, grandmother of eight and mother of three daughters.  She lives on the Cattaraugus Creek working in Buffalo, NY with the Indigenous Women's Initiatives/ Indigenous Women's Network of Austin Texas.  

She has attended the Thomas Indian School, Gowanda Central Class of '68, and received her 1972 Bachelor's and 1973 Master's from Syracuse University's School of School of Social Work.  Agnes became a 1991 doctoral candidate in American Studies University of Buffalo.  Her dissertation topic is "The Retraditionalization of Indigenous Women as an Empowerment Strategy"  and authored a 1978 paper for the National Education Institute-Wash DC "The Changing Roles of American Indian Women from the Reservation to and Urban Setting." 

As a community activist she help organize the 1978 Longest WalkSF-DC,  the Oakland California- AIM for Freedom Survival School and worked as a diplomat for the NGO International Indian Treaty Council in the United Nations-Geneva Switzerland and participated in the 1983 A & H Bomb Conventions in Japan.  Agnes is a founder of the Women of All Red Nations (WARN)-Rapid City South Dakota and the Indigenous Women's Network-Austin Texas and the Indigenous Women's Intiatives- a project of Riverside Salem UCCDC-Grand Island NY.  

As a licensed Social Worker Agnes has clinically worked as a perinatal counselor, family therapist, field supervisor for social work students and a child welfare consultant and training specialist.  

Currently, Agnes is a  Coordinator at the Indigenous Women's Initiatives campaigning for "Water Is LIfe," "Nuclear Free Future," and "Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery."  She organized the last ten+ years annual celebration/commemoration on August 9th  "Indigenous Peoples Nuclear Free Future Day" at the Buffalo History Museum to educate the public about the continued existence of Haudenosaunee Peoples and the 2007 United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) " Indigenous Peoples right to exist with prior, free and informed consent. Agnes is appointed to the Climate Change Task For of the Seneca Nation of Indians near Irving NY>

 As an organizer and activist she extends public invitations to join her work for peace and justice.


New Yorkers own the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site which is upstream and upwind of Buffalo and the rest of NY, the Seneca Nation of Indians Territories and Canada.  Highly radioactive nuclear power and weapons waste was reprocessed there to extract plutonium and uranium, leaving one of the most intensely radioactive sites in the world. The US Department of Energy is tasked with “cleaning up” part of the site and they are about to demolish the above ground part of the super-radioactive reprocessing building as soon as Fall 2021. Much appreciation for the workers who have been suiting up and clearing out the building some of which was too radioactive for people and was only accessed by remote control.  Workers are removing as much radioactivity as they can before the building(s) are demolished–but radioactivity remains in the thick walls and steel-reinforced structures. How much long-lasting radioactive material will be spread during demolition to communities, farm and dairy land up the food chain to our milk, cheese, eggs, food crops, meat and fish? To our waterways, air and soil?

Is the legal level of radioactive contamination a "safe" level, especially for females, young people, older people and those with existing health conditions and exposure to other cancer-causing environmental and household pollutants?

What other radioactive waste is at the site?

The sessions will answer these questions and raise more, providing avenues for meaningful public participation.

The current concerns are summarized at

1) We need an enclosure over the building(s) during demolition (and future excavation of below-ground waste and structures) at West Valley to prevent radioactive materials from spreading to the air, land, water, people, flora, fauna and environment AND

2) We need continuous, real time, offsite, air and water monitoring and publicly accessible reporting before, during and after the demolition of one of the most radioactive buildings in the nuclear power and weapons complex.

3) We must watchdog this demolition and the many cleanup steps that must follow--to prevent huge amounts of buried nuclear materials from leaking out and to isolate the waste that is now stored above and below ground at the site.


View other workshops from this series:

(6/1) The History of the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site PART 1 and Action Needed in 2021 
(6/22) Digging Deeper, The History of the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site PART 2 and Action Needed in 2021 
(7/27) Protections Needed for WNY during the Demolition of the Most Radioactive Building , West Valley Action Network

The West Valley Action Network formed as a loose association of individuals and groups in 2009 to work for the full clean up of the West Valley Nuclear Waste site in West Valley NY, Cattaraugus County, draining north into Erie County and the Great Lakes. It is comprised of individuals and organizations in NY, the US and Canada working for the full cleanup of the West Valley nuclear waste site and includes the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes, Sierra Club, Western NY Environmental Alliance, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Indigenous Women's Initiatives, Citizens' Environmental Coalition, the Western NY Peace Center, WNYCOSH, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, NYPIRG, the Adirondack Mountain Club, religious groups, sporting  groups and many more.