Another reason why many Native Americans don't trust the federal government.
Tonight, I headed to downtown Gallup to watch a series of presenters discuss the topic of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation.
For those who aren't familar:
Hydro Resources, Inc., has proposed to mine in four areas near the communities of Crownpoint and Churchrock. The uranium would not be removed by the previous traditional open-pit mining or shaft mining. The uranium would be removed by a process called In-situ Leach (ISL) mining. this type of mining includes the process of drilling holes in the ground, to the aquifer and injecting the water with chemicals that would "leach", or strip the uranium from the host rock (sandstone lined aquifer). The ISL mining method deliberately contaminates the ground water in the mining zone. At the present time Crownpoint has a pristine aquifer which provides pristine water to 15,000 people. These people come from all over the Eastern Navajo Agency to get water for everyday uses, such as cooking, drinking, cleaning, bathing and feeding livestock.
The main resistance front (ENDAUM) was organized in
the summer of 2001, when Rep. Heather Wilson proposed a plan that gave $10 million dollars of taxpayer's money to domestic uranium producing companies, to do explorations into safe mining for 3 years. During this time, Rep. Wilson had neglected to research what she was doing and neglected to inform the people outside of her district of what she was about to do against them. She also denied many invitations by people of the Crownpoint and Churchrock communities to visit their communities and voice their concerns.
Both the Church Rock and Crownpoint chapters as well as the Navajo Nation government have all passed resolutions legislation against this horrible (I'll call a spade a spade) environmental classism and racism. Tom Udall, the actual representative for our district (another reason to not like Heather Wilson) is opposed to the project, as well are numerous other individuals.
Here's what happened the last time they did this:
Church Rock, New Mexico, would seem an improbable spot for a nuclear disaster...In the early morning hours of July 16, 1979--fourteen weeks after the accident at Three Mile Island--all of that changed. The dam at Church Rock burst sending eleven hundred tons of radioactive mill wastes and ninety million gallons of contaminated liquid pouring toward Arizona. The wall of water backed up sewers and lifted manhole covers in Gallup, twenty miles downstream, and caught people all along the river unawares. "There were no clouds, but all of a sudden the water came," remembered Herbert Morgan of Manuelito, New Mexico. "I was wondering where it came from. Not for a few days were we told."
No one was killed in the actual flood. But along the way it left residues of radioactive uranium, thorium, radium, and polonium, as well as traces of metals such as cadmium, aluminum, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, sodium, vanadium, zinc, iron, lead and high concentrations of sulfates. The spill degraded the western Rio Puerco as a water source. It carried toxic metals already detectable at least seventy miles downstream. And it raised the specter that uranium mining in the Colorado River Basin may be endangering Arizona's Lake Mead, and with it the drinking water of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and much of Arizona.
Except for the bomb tests, Church Rock was probably the biggest single release of radioactive poisons on American soil. Ironically it occurred thirty-four years to the day after the first atomic test explosion at Trinity, New Mexico, not far away.
I can't imagine why everyone here is against it happening again.
We need people out West to stand up against this going forward. Not just politicians but regular people and public opinion-setters. The fact that the people who this will effect are in direct opposition but companies and the federal government keep moving forward proves so much of what native peoples say are true about our society. I would like to believe we live in a different time now, where positive and enlightened figures from all sides of the political spectrum could unite in opposition to this terrible effort.
I condemn anyone that supports this and welcome any figure who opposes it.
Landon Mascareñaz | September 25, 2006 | Comment on This Post (2 so far)
Your Personal Note:
I really respect this post. The first step is informing the public of this horrific situation. Hopefully, you and other bloggers on WesternDemocrat can create a link that takes people directly to an awareness cite where interested parties can find ways to get involved to stop the mining.
Margaret Mead said it best, all we need is a group of thoughtful and committed citizens to change the world.
I think you're well on your way!
Posted by: Devan | Sep 27, 2006 3:16:21 PM
Posted by: dsf | Oct 24, 2006 5:11:31 AM
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(and yes, we know that sometimes they're very, very wrong. Other times, they're right on.)