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Native America

Native American land has been targeted for decades for uranium mining and, more recently, for radioactive waste dumps. Native Americans have disproportionately been affected by the serious health consequences from uranium mining and have struggled for compensation and restitution. The Navajo Tribe has now banned uranium mining on their land.

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Tuesday
Jul142009

July 16 marks anniversary of worst accidental release of radioactive waste in US history

On July 16, 1979, just 14 weeks after the Three Mile Island reactor accident, and just 34 years to the day after the Trinity atomic test, the small community of Church Rock, New Mexico, became the scene of another nuclear tragedy.

Ninety million gallons of liquid radioactive waste, and eleven hundred tons of solid mill wastes, burst through a broken dam wall at the Church Rock uranium mill facility, creating a flood of deadly effluents that permanently contaminated the Rio Puerco river. For more on the disaster at Church Rock and the implications today, read Linda Gunter's essay. For more details, see Killing our Own and Southwest Research and Information Center.

Sunday
Jul122009

Native Americans and the nuclear fuel chain

The first link in a nuclear chain that binds us to catastrophic weapons and energy is uranium mining. The final link is the intensely radioactive waste these industries produce. Native Americans are targeted at both ends of the chain.

The health of members of tribal communities living near operating and abandoned uranium mines and mills has been negatively affected and they continue to demand population-based health studies to explain these illnesses. No extensive health studies have ever been conducted among these populations.

To date the only proposed site for a high-level radioactive waste site for geological disposal is on Western Shoshone Indian land at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. However, it appears that president Obama will likely cancel the flawed Yucca site after decades of wasted time and billions in wasted dollars.

Dozens of Native American reservations have been targeted for high-level radioactive waste “parking lot” dumps. The anti-nuclear and environmental justice movements, working with members of these Native communities, have stopped every such proposal thus far. On the western part of the Navajo Nation about 1 in every 5 drinking water sources contains uranium and arsenic that exceed EPA drinking water standards, and many of these contaminated water sources are located close to abandoned uranium mines.

Indian tribes in Alaska are facing the prospect of a new prototype reactor that could contaminate America’s most pristine watershed.

At Prairie Island, Minnesota, Indian land involuntarily hosts a massive dry cask storage “parking lot” for spent fuel rods just 600 yards from the tribal day care center.

The Seneca Nation of Indians is downstream from the West Valley dump for nuclear power and weapons wastes and the country’s failed commercial irradiated fuel reprocessing plant.

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