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Warning on uranium mining from Navajo speaker

mining firms “scoured the land” looking for ore deposits, Tohe said. They hired local workers, Navajos and Pueblos, to enter the mines, where radioactive dust settled into miners’ clothes before they went home and contaminated their families, Tohe said.

“The workers were never told that this was dangerous,” Tohe said……There may be short-term jobs, but the mining industry is susceptible to the market,”…“The communities are held hostage by the boom and bust cycle,”

Anti-uranium mining activist speaks out on project | GoDanRiver.com, 7 Feb 2011, If uranium is mined and milled at Coles Hill in Pittsylvania County, what happened in the U.S. West could happen in Chatham, said a grassroots organizer for the Sierra Club during a speech Saturday at El Cazador Restaurant.The Coles Hill project would be the first instance of uranium mining east of the Mississippi River, said Robert Tohe, a Navajo and a field representative/grassroots organizer for the Sierra Club…….During his speech at El Cazador Restaurant in Chatham on Saturday, sponsored by the Sierra Club, Tohe focused on the legacy of uranium mining and milling in Church Rock, N.M., located in the Grants mineral district stretching from west of Albuquerque to Gallup, N.M…..
Uranium mined in those areas was used for weapons of mass destruction during World War II and the Cold War, Tohe said, recounting the effects uranium mining and milling had on the American Indian population, including Navajos, over the last 60 years.

In Church Rock in 1979, a United Nuclear dam that contained radioactive material broke after rainstorms and released 95 million gallons of radioactive waste, which was carried into a dry riverbed and traveled 80 miles into Arizona, Tohe said.

Sludge and waste eventually moved into the Colorado River, Tohe said. ……Communities there sacrificed their land and lives for uranium mining and milling, Tohe said. They have no way to clean up what’s left, he said. Affected communities are studying to find a link between exposure to toxic heavy metals and kidney disease.

Those living within seven miles of an abandoned mine have a higher chance of developing diabetes, Tohe said. During the 1960s, mining firms “scoured the land” looking for ore deposits, Tohe said. They hired local workers, Navajos and Pueblos, to enter the mines, where radioactive dust settled into miners’ clothes before they went home and contaminated their families, Tohe said.

“The workers were never told that this was dangerous,” Tohe said.

Now those communities are seeing the consequences, with the U.S. Congress dragging its feet and not fully funding compensation for those former miners and their families, Tohe said.

As for mining and milling effects on water, there’s no technology to clean contaminated water, Tohe said.

If mining and milling come to Virginia, questions about effects on public health, who will pay for cleanup of contamination or whether there’s a long-term plan for protecting drinking water from contamination will have to be answered.

They cannot be addressed with regulations passed after the worst has happened, Tohe said.

Waste is a huge issue in every phase of uranium processing, Tohe said. A community where mining and milling is proposed must weight the benefits and costs of it, he said…………There may be short-term jobs, but the mining industry is susceptible to the market,” Tohe said.

A project like Coles Hill could take place and then the demand for uranium goes down, and the project could be “mothballed,” Tohe said.

“The communities are held hostage by the boom and bust cycle,” Tohe said.

Anti-uranium mining activist speaks out on project | GoDanRiver.com

February 8, 2011 - Posted by | indigenous issues, Uranium, USA

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