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Uranium mining continues to radioactively poison land and water in USA

Uranium Mine Pits Continue to Leak Radiation Today
Radiation and heavy metals from uranium mines continue to pollute the land, air and water today and very little action is being taken to stop it.

America’s “Secret Fukushima”: Uranium Mining is Poisoning the Bread Basket of the World By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese Global Research, June 07, 2013 Truthout Early in the morning of July 16, 1979, a 20-foot section of the earthen dam blocking the waste pool for the Church Rock Uranium Mill caved in and released 95 million gallons of highly acidic fluid containing 1,100 tons of radioactive material. The fluid and waste flowed into the nearby Puerco River, traveling 80 miles downstream, leaving toxic puddles and backing up local sewers along the way.

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Although this release of radiation, thought to be the largest in US history, occurred less than four months after the Three Mile Island partial nuclear meltdown that sent radioactive gases and iodine into the air, the Church Rock spill received little media attention. In contrast, the Three Mile Island accident made the headlines. And when the residents of Church Rock asked their governor to declare their community a disaster area so they could get recovery assistance, he refused.

What was the difference between the Church Rock spill and the Three Mile Island partial meltdown? Church Rock is situated in the Navajo Nation, one of the areas in the US sacrificed to supply uranium for the Cold War and for nuclear power plants. That area and many others in the Navajo Nation are contaminated to this day. Another sacrifice area is the Great Sioux Nation where thousands of open uranium mine pits continue to release radiation and heavy metals into the air, land and water.

This poisoning of the people in the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations has been going on for decades and has had serious effects on their health. Even today, it is unknown what the full effects are and what the impact is on the rest of the nation because the contaminated air and water are not limited by borders. Most Americans are unaware of the story of uranium mining on tribal lands because it is a difficult story to accept. It is a story that includes the long history of human rights abuses by the US against native Indians and recognition of the full costs of nuclear energy – two stories the government and big energy have suppressed…. rather than studying the health effects and cleaning up the environment, private corporations are pushing once again to lift the ban on uranium mining………

Uranium Mine Pits Continue to Leak Radiation Today

Radiation and heavy metals from uranium mines continue to pollute the land, air and water today and very little action is being taken to stop it.

In the upper great plain states of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, there are 2,885 abandoned uranium mines that are all open pits within territory that is supposed to be for the absolute use of the Great Sioux Nation under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the US. These open mines continue to emit radiation and pollutants that are poisoning the local communities.

According to a report by Earthworks, “Mining not only exposes uranium to the atmosphere, where it becomes reactive, but releases other radioac­tive elements such as thorium and radium and toxic heavy metals including arsenic, selenium, mercury and cadmium. Exposure to these radioactive ele­ments can cause lung cancer, skin cancer, bone can­cer, leukemia, kidney damage and birth defects.”

There are currently 1200 abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation and 500 of them require reclamation. The greatest amount of radioactive contamination on Navajo land comes from solid waste called ‘tailings’ which sit in large open piles, some as tall as 70 feet high, and were incorporated into materials used to build homes. Dust from these piles of waste blows throughout the land causing widespread contamination.

A 2008 study found that “mills and tailings disposal sites caused extensive groundwater contamination by radium, uranium, various trace metals and dissolved solids. One estimate is that 1.2 million acre-feet of groundwater (or enough to fill Elephant Butte Reservoir more than twice) have been contaminated in the Ambrosia Lake-Milan area from historic mine and mill discharges, and less than two tenths of 1 percent has been treated to reduce contaminant levels.” It is estimated that 30 percent of people living in the Navajo Nation lack access to uncontaminated water.
Charmaine White Face of Defenders of the Black Hills describes the situation in the Great Sioux Nation as “America’s Chernobyl.” She says,  “A private abandoned, open-pit uranium mine about 200 meters from an elementary school in Ludlow, SD, emits 1170 microRems per hour, more than 4 times as much as being emitted from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. “ In addition, “Studies by the USFS show that one mine alone has 1,400 millirems per hour (mR/hr) of exposed radiation, a level of radiation that is 120,000 times higher than normal background of 100 millirems per year (mR/yr)!” Cancer rates in Pine Ridge, SD are the highest in the nation.

This contamination escapes into the air which blows to the East and South and seeps into the water, reaching the Cheyenne and Missouri Rivers. It poisons grain grown in these areas that is fed to cattle that provide milk and beef for the rest of the nation. As White Face explains, “In an area of the USA that has been called ‘the Bread Basket of the World,’ more than forty years of mining have released radioactive polluted dust and water runoff from the hundreds of abandoned open pit uranium mines, processing sites, underground nuclear power stations, and waste dumps. Our grain supplies and our livestock production in this area have used the water and have been exposed to the remainders of this mining. We may be seeing global affects, not just localized affects, to the years of uranium mining.”….http://www.globalresearch.ca/americas-secret-fukushima-is-poisoning-the-bread-basket-of-the-world/5338136

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June 8, 2013 - Posted by | environment, indigenous issues, Reference, USA

1 Comment »

  1. […] Uranium mining continues to radioactively poison land and water in USA […]

    Pingback by Virginia Uranium: NIMBY | June 25, 2013 | Reply


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