by Linda Pim, Federation of Ontario Naturalists
Environmental activists across North America are mourning the tragic death of Irene Kock in a car accident on December 31, 2001 near Uxbridge, Ontario.
Irene was a renowned anti-nuclear researcher, author and activist, respected both in her native Canada and by Americans fighting nuclear proliferation. With David Martin, her partner in life and vocation, she headed up the Nuclear Awareness Project, which recently became an arm of the Sierra Club of Canada. Dave and Irene have lived for many years in Ontario’s Durham Region, home to the largest concentration of nuclear reactors in North America at the Pickering and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations. Whenever problems with the safety of these reactors have arisen, Irene and Dave have consistently raised concerns with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (formerly the Atomic Energy Control Board) and were the people to whom the media turned for authoritative comment.
Irene lobbied hard for the closure of the oldest and most unsafe reactors (those at the Pickering “A” and Bruce “A” stations), reported leaks of radioactive tritium from Pickering into Lake Ontario, and was at the forefront of Canada’s Campaign for Nuclear Phase-out. She was a staunch promoter of green energy alternatives. Even opponents liked and respected her. “She was always very professional — always very enjoyable to work with, even when you found yourself on the other side of an issue,” Pickering Mayor Wayne Arthurs said recently.
Right in their own community, Irene and Dave have passionately defended the natural world. Irene was president of the Uxbridge Conservation Association, which has recently received two grants from the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network and Fund for UCA’s work protecting their part of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
I was lucky to have known and admired Irene over many years. I loved her absolute dedication to protecting the planet, her calm persistence, her utter reliability. I’ll miss canoe trips with her and I’ll miss her wonderfully mischievous giggle!
Let’s give thanks for Irene’s wonderful life as long as it lasted. May she be a beacon of light shining for all of us, showing us the way to best lead our lives. We extend to Dave Martin our caring thoughts for him and our loving memories of Irene.
If you would like to remember Irene, please consider supporting the work that she did by contacting the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation at (613)-241-4611 or the Uxbridge Conservation Association at (905)-852-6803.