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15,000 Abandoned Uranium Mines – Dirty, Deadly Front End of Nuclear Power —

The Dirty, Deadly Front End of Nuclear Power — 15,000 Abandoned Uranium Mines    Truth Out Friday, 11 March 2016 00:00By Josh Cunnings and Emerson UrryEnviroNews | Video Report Editor’s Note: The following news piece represents the first in a 15-part mini-series titled, Nuclear Power in Our World Today, featuring nuclear authority, engineer and whistleblower Arnie Gundersen. The EnviroNews USA series encompasses a wide span of topics, ranging from Manhattan-era madness to the continuously-unfolding crisis on the ground at Fukushima Daiichi in eastern Japan. The transcript follows the video below:


Josh Cunnings (Narrator): Welcome to the EnviroNews USA news desk. I’m your host Josh Cunnings. In this first episode of a unique 15-part mini-series of short-films, we are going to explore Nuclear Power in Our World Today.

Our journey extends outward from a bombshell interview conducted by EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry, with the esteemed nuclear expert, whistleblower, and expert witness Arnie Gundersen. Gundersen is a nuclear engineer, as well as a former power plant operator, and trade executive, whose own life, for a good amount of time, was ruined by the nuclear industry after he exposed radioactive safety violations. So to get this series rolling, here’s what Gundersen revealed to Emerson Urry……..

The educational short serious we’re about to bring you spans a plethora of nuclear-related topics, but maintains a special focus on the myriad nuclear problems still festering right here in the US In this series, we will also explore with Gundersen, critical and downright disturbing details from the ongoing, ever-unfolding, nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi in eastern Japan.

Some of the segments in this series are very short and feature raw interview excerpts, while in other episodes we dive deeper into the content discussed between Gundersen and Urry.

But before going around the world to talk about the incredible state of despair, still palpable on the ground in Japan, we’re going to start this series right here on US soil — at the beginning where all nuclear complexities commence — we begin with the aftermath from the mining and extraction of the naturally occurring radioactive element uranium — a mineral with a four-and-a-half-billion-year half-life that presents very little harm when safely sequestered in the earth — but all that changes when it’s mined and brought to the surface……….

While for many years nuclear power rode under the guise of the so-called “peaceful atom,” the industry has been chastised for being a friendly cover for the bomb fuel business……….

In the 40s and 50s, America was pillaging uranium out of the earth as fast and furiously as possibly in a rush for both electricity and bombs — but it turns out that many of those mining messes weren’t cleaned up very well — if at all.

The perplexing problem of these open, deadly, toxic messes was discussed between Urry and Gundersen. Take a listen.

To our understanding there are about 15,000 abandoned uranium mines that have been left in complete ruin with very little cleanup or remediation at all, just in the western United States. This has happened, by-and-large, because of an antiquated mining bill — the 1872 Mining Bill — still affecting these situations today — that kind of allowed miners to just walk away from these situations — but yet, they remain in the open leaching off tailings — blowing around radioactive dust. I think there’s about 4,500 of these exposed mining sites just in Navajo country — another 2,500 or so in Wyoming. How do we deal with that situation? What does the future hold in those regards, and quite frankly, are we all being poisoned by these mines?…..

Gundersen: The way our system is set up is that you take the profit early, and then when everything is done you walk away and the government takes the risk. So, we’ve socialized the risk, and the capitalists make the profit early on and the rest of us pick up the cost afterward. And that’s historically true on the Navajo reservation especially — but you get in the Black Hills and the Lakota Sioux… We had a member of our board go out to South Dakota and sample a dried riverbed, and the bottom of the riverbed had as much uranium in it as a mine — from runoff from uphill mines. We have a legacy that we’re really not admitting exists. Thousands and thousands of these mines — mainly on the Native American property, but not entirely………

Charmaine White Face (excerpt from Defenders of the Black Hills video): Dr. Lilias Jarding in her research that she completed in 2010 calledUranium Activities’ Impacts on Lakota Territory talked about, not only what was happening on the Northern Great Plains, but also in Colorado. All of these are abandoned open-pit uranium mines. 397 in Montana, 2103 in Wyoming, 113 in North Dakota, 272 in South Dakota, and 387 in northern Colorado, for a total of 3272………

Dr. Kearfott with her students came out and started doing some readings in our treaty territory, and this is what they found: “The radiation levels in parts I visited with my students were higher than those in the evacuated zones around the Fukushima nuclear disaster.” Higher. Fukushima radiation levels were higher than Chernobyl. The Northern Great Plains’ levels are higher than Fukushima — and these are not from nuclear power plants or from an atomic weapon, or atomic bomb being exploded. These are from 2,885 abandoned open-pit uranium mines and prospects, and we are subject to that radioactive pollution constantly. We, the people of the Great Sioux Nation, we are the miner’s canary. We are the miner’s canary for the rest of the United States. We have the highest cancer rates now. We never gave permission for uranium mining to occur in our treaty territory. It’s not just the nuclear power plants that people have to be afraif. All of these abandoned open-pit uranium mines in the Northern Great Plains are affecting everyone, but they are genocide for the Great Sioux Nation — for my people. This is genocide……….

Tune in tomorrow for the second part of fifteen in this EnviroNews special — Nuclear Power in Our World Today. For EnviroNews USA — Josh Cunnings.

March 12, 2016 - Posted by | environment, Uranium

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