Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Uranium has taken a heavy toll on the Indian population

October 17, 2000 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

“The mining of uranium has taken a heavy toll on the Indian population in the Four Corners area. Not only did the Indians receive very little in the way of royalties for the extraction of the ore from their lands, but health and safety precautions in the mines were essentially non-existent. Mine operators and the U. S. government appealed to the patriotism of the local Indians to exempt them from conformance with labor laws. The miners wore no protective clothing and therefore carried the contaminated clothing home with them each day. They drank the water that seeped through the ore layers into the mines. The tailings piles were left in the open near the mouths of the mines to be blown over the land by the breeze. The radon (gas) released from these tailings was carried perhaps as far as the east coast by atmospheric currents. The tailings themselves were slowly washed down into the rivers and thus into the regional water supply. Large ponds of radioactive residues from the processing of the ore were created behind earthen dams with minimal regulation. One of these dams broke on July 16, 1979, at Church Rock, NM,1 with disasterous consequences for the Navajo population of this area. The volume of material released was so great that manhole covers were lifted in Gallup, NM, 20 miles downstream.” – Karen M. Strom




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