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Archive for August, 2011

URANIUM MINING in the SOUTH WEST: NAVAJOS TRAPPED BY TAILING and DECADES OF INACTION

RARE METALS AZ URANIUM PROCESSING FACILITY
RARE METALS AZ URANIUM PROCESSING FACILITY

RARE METALS AZ URANIUM PROCESSING FACILITY

RARE METALS AZ Processing facility was one of the four mills that victimized the NAVAJO during the COLD WAR, creating an AMERICAN TRAGEDY; says Henry Waxman D-CA who points to a history of neglect that would not be tolerated elsewhere. Among the horrors: shifting mountains of uranium tailing; open mines leaching contaminated rain into drinking water tables; wind-blown radioactive dust; home construction from uranium mine slabs; and even the grim spectacle of children playing in radioactive swimming holes.
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NEZ  11.48.40 AMNez Bancroft with her hogan where she lived all her life watching the white dust blowing around the Valley

( WHITE DUST PART TWO )

When Uranium prices started to rise in 2006 folks on the Arizona Strip and in Fredonia, Utah started to smell jobs. Rural desolation and the depression has starved the economic opportunities here, “Does Fredonia even have a motel anymore” Carol Tinney asks herself, continuing, “When Salazar stopped Uranium Mining he stopped those jobs, and broke those folks hearts.” As far as Kanab Creek (being radioactive) “There is so little water in that stream, there’s hardly enough to worry about”, she adds about the drainage that worries Steve Martin because he’s concerned about the ecosystems down stream and believes everything will suffer from toxic heavy metal and radiation.

“I worry about uranium escaping into the local water, and about its effect on fish in the Colorado River at the bottom of the gorge, and on the bald eagles, California condors and bighorn sheep that depend on the Canyon’s seeps and springs. More than a third of the Canyon’s species would be affected if water quality suffered” — Steve Martin, former Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent

Secretary Salazar this summer was joined at the Mather Point Amphitheater in Grand Canyon National Park by BLM Director Bob Abbey, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, and US Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on JUNE 20, 2011 said the Grand Canyon must be guided by “caution, wisdom, and science,” so as to protect the World Heritage Site, tribal interests, drinking water supplies, and the tourism economy that the area’s natural resources support. In Salazar remarks he stated that he would take action to close one million acres of public and National Forest System lands surrounding the Grand Canyon to new uranium mining and claims.


From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were chiseled and blasted from the mountains and plains. The mines provided uranium for the Manhattan Project, the top-secret effort to develop an atomic bomb, and for the weapons stockpile built up during the arms race with the Soviet Union. Private companies operated the mines, but the U.S. government was the sole customer. The boom lasted through the early ’60s. As the Cold War threat gradually diminished over the next two decades, more than 1,000 mines and four processing mills on tribal land shut down.

On Jul 24, 2011 – Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake put a rider on the Interior Department’s appropriations bill to tie the Interior secretary’s hands.”Uranium mining outside of Grand Canyon National Park can create jobs and stimulate the economy in northern Arizona without jeopardizing the splendor and natural beauty within the park,” the congressman said in a statement posted on his website. “That’s why the proposed moratorium on new uranium claims is opposed by state and local officials in Arizona.”Rep. Flake’s comments about Arizona opposition to the moratorium is not exactly accurate.

Officials for the Central Arizona Project, which provides water to nearly 80 percent of Arizona’s 6.5 million residents, have expressed concern over uranium mining around the park in a joint letter cosigned by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Southern Nevada Water Authority. A number of sportsmen groups oppose mining on the lands and multiple local and national sportsmen organizations sent a letter to Secretary Ken Salazar thanking him for upholding the temporary moratorium on new uranium mining claims, and requested that he extend the ban to 20 year.

“Wildlife, fisheries and the water that supports us are not partisan issues,” the group letter states. “Uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park is wholly unacceptable given the best science available and the potential impacts not only to our natural resources but to the economy of Northern Arizona and the communities that drink Colorado River water.”

Today, the NPS advises hikers against “drinking and bathing” in the Little Colorado River, Kanab Creek, and other Grand Canyon waters where “excessive radio nuclides” have been found. Although it is difficult to attribute this contamination to any specific activity, there can be little doubt that the cumulative effects of mining, milling, and transporting radioactive materials are causing long-term, adverse effects on people, water and other resource values in the Grand Canyon region.

The legislature may rule on this rider and closure before the August recess ?


What’s At Risk? The future of one of our nation’s crown jewels, and the world’s, most revered treasures, and the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren. JEFF FLAKES policy rider would directly threaten one of the top twenty travel destinations and America’s only one of seven natural wonders of the world. It also threatens the quality of the Colorado River’s water on which more than 25 million people in the American South West depend on for drinking.

Earlier this summer, Navajo President Joe Shelly proclaimed Uranium Legacy Remembrance Action Day and led a march to United Nuclear Corp, a Church Rock New Mexico Uranium Mill that was the scene of the largest low-level radioactive waste spill in U.S. History. On July 16, 1979, 94 million gallons of acidic waste water spilled into the Puerco River, a tributary of the Little Colorado River traveling 50 miles downstream before settling in the Arizona stream bed after an earth-tailing dam failed. Shelly’s proclamation commemorated the 32nd anniversary of the Church Rock Tailing Spill as well as six decades of Uranium impact on the Navajo reservation.
The demand for Uranium–on Navajo lands and has poisoned the scarce waters as well as taken many lives and the health of the Navajo people becoming the biggest sacrifice ever visited on a people. Ed Singer, Cameron Chapter President

“They don’t mine like that anymore!” say Carol Tinney, who believes the jobs, Uranium mining will bring the Arizona Strip will far outweigh the ecological concerns for downstream which are over stated and are fears fueled by boogieman stories of the past and out-dated mining processes. The Navajo Nation, which encompasses large chunks of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah disagrees they say they are living proof of the after affects of Uranium Mining and suffer daily from the old mining processes and the inaction of the government, and the mining companies who walked away from their responsibilities leaving piles of white dust to blow where ever the wind took it.

BANCROFT Family HoganNEZ BANCROFT FAMILY outside their Hogan
View of the sacred San Franciscan Peaks

White dust-like powder blowing daily across Rare Metals couldn’t be poison Navajo elders say at the chapter house in Tuba City—look at Nez Bancroft she lived there 65 years going on a hundred, they laugh.
But Nez Bancroft is not laughing. Rare Metals is now an abandoned uranium tailing located five miles north of Tuba City on the Navajo Nation but once it was Bancroft’s pasture where thirty years ago as a girl, she herded sheep and later as a mother she raised her children and watched the bulldozers come to her pastures pushed her sheep aside and began mining the soil. She remembers the funny smell of uranium that always followed them while tending livestock, her throat would soon parch and ached while tending the sheep, the powder was everywhere, for twenty years she and her family covered their mouth and face when riding through their valley.
Before the tailing mined closed in 1976, Nez Bancroft moved her extended family of twenty plus children and grandchildren from their birth site up wind from the tailing and contaminated pools. Most suffer from mysterious eyesores and like their grandmother Nez, they at times, aches from head to toe, and their doctors can find no cause or treatment. The hillside view in the late 1970’s overlooked the sacred peaks above Flagstaff and what was left of Rare Metals, a smelter building and foundations of company town homes on the south side of Navajo Route 160 and maybe a dozen homes still standing on the north side.
Navajo Sheep Grazing in the exposed Uranium tailing long abandon by Rare Metals Corporation. Nez noted she saw twenty of her sheep drink from standing pools near the tailing and they soon died. Fencing today protects livestock from the contaminated water but suspect wells were used in those days especially during droughts. No one told them not to use the wells then, but today the ground water in the area has a plume of contamination and while that water is not used or needed today, all the inhabitants have been moved off the land but what happens in hard times.
From her hillside hogan for more of a decade, Nez Bancroft has watched winds carry the white powder “like a busted flour sack” into the homes built for the whites brought in to harvest and smelt the rare metal and who left as soon as the jobs played out. During the Bennett Freeze in the 1970’s-80’s, those abandoned homes, served as stop gap housing for Navajos who couldn’t live anywhere else.
Betty Dodd and puppies who ran free and wandered home covered in white dust.
“Does it affect this side of the highway”, asks Betty Dodd about the uranium. Dodd and her 16-year-old son Dale moved to Rare Metals almost three years ago because they needed an inexpensive place to live. Rising rents had forced her from her trailer after losing her kitchen job at the High School, in Tuba City where jobs were few and far between. On this day she eats on money made selling Indian Jewelry to tourists at the traffic circle in Tuba City.
Across the tree-lined path, Bobby Marks, a janitor at the Tuba High School, a year earlier moved his family of nine into two of the remaining 10 structures north of the uranium tailing. His salary was less than $6 an hour and he couldn’t afford to drive back and forth from his Hogan and trailer at Red Lake, 20 miles away, each night after work. Like many in Rare Metals he fears for the health of his family, but has no other way to house or feed his family.
UnderGlassBobby Marks’ family

RAREMETALSAZ-2Processing Facility next to worker homes abandoned when the mill closed and inhabited by Navajo unable to find better housing.

In 1976, the same year Ford, Bacon, Davis, Utah Inc., the primary contractor for Rare Metals shut down the mine. Betty Dodd applied for benefits from the Navajo-Hopi Relocation Commission in Flagstaff. Dodd was born “right on the line” of the Bennett Freeze “on the building or remodeling of any homes in the disputed land”. Born in the Coal Mine Mesa District of the Navajo-Hopi joint use district she was told it was mandatory she apply and was told she “would hear from them within three months”, they promised. They promised a letter with instructions would arrive and that was 10 years ago she says, throwing another log on the wood fire. In April she went to Flagstaff and the Commission said come back in July after the deadline for relocation, saying they had no idea what money and land would be made available.
“Find me a house, then I’ll move”, Dodd said. “They want me to move to New Mexico, near Roswell”, she says, “I’ll go anywhere”, “I won’t complain but I’d rather be here.” Sick, off and on all last winter, Dodd relies on her brothers and sisters in Tuba City whose children haul wood and water helping out when Dodd often frequently feels too dizzy to trip into town. The potbelly stove glows in the dark house, outside the wind whips around the structure as the sun drops out of the sky. The burning wood warms the living room, the lack of electricity makes little difference to Dodd who rises with the sun and her dogs, Rocky and Lobo, she prefers to stay away from radios, TV’s and town.

“Rare Metals, isn’t the only place you can die of cancer,” she says. “besides, I like it here. It’s so quiet and peaceful.” Dodd’s sons deliver water from Tuba city for washing and drinking.

Across the tree-lined path a neighbor James Peshlakai feels differently, fours years ago when the Navajo Tribe took control of the property he moved his four children into their free house at Rare Metals. Today he’s bitter, “whoever processed the uranium knew the danger of walking away from it” when we moved here, we knew of no danger.” “Now I can’t move, can’t build—the Hopi won’t allow any new development… this land is frozen.”
The polticans just talk about it, the Navajo Tribe, the Hopis, the Federal Government, the Department of Health “we’re the scapegoats”. “I don’t like it!” says Peshlakai. “I have a truckload of cinder block, another of building material bought and paid for in Flagstaff—just waiting. I asked to move to Cameron or Tuba City, they say. “It’s frozen. In Tuba City all I hear,it’s frozen” “Meanwhile everyone here is frozen here”, he concludes….

James Peshlakai Family

WINDBLOWN MAP 1981 STUDY
From 1984 through 1995, the Department of Energy spent $240 million to cover tailing piles at the old uranium mills as part of a nationwide program. Tailing are the fine sand left over when ore is ground up to extract uranium. They retain most of the radioactivity and give off large quantities of radon, an odorless, cancer-causing gas. A 1981 Engineering assessment of the Rare Metals 800,000 tons of uranium tailing for the Department of Energy found that “trucks could remove material from the site at a rate of at least of 2,000 tons a day, removing all tailing and contaminated materials within two years. But since Blanding, Utah was the nearest functioning mill, it was decided “the costs of removal would far exceed the value of the uranium that could be recovered from the tailing”.


When completed in 1990, the Super Fund Cap in Rare Metals covered about 50 acres. Nearly 2.3 million tons of contaminated materials are entombed in the cell and, according to the DOE fact sheet, the cell contains “all of the residual radioactive materials at the mill site, the contaminated windblown materials from surrounding properties, and debris from the demolished buildings.”RARE METALS Arizona is a Uranium mill company town, these foundations were finally bulldozed and removed, so was the topsoil, inches of it scrapped up and trucked away. From June 1956 to November 1966, the Tuba City Rare Metals Mill processed 796,489 tons of uranium ore. The U.S. Department of Energy says, when the mill closed three connected mill tailing piles containing 800,000 tons of material and three evaporation ponds remained. The mill became a Superfund site, all that is left of the Mill today is a fenced remediation site. For decades Navajos lived in homes left abandon after the mill closed, some buildings were torn down and the material reused elsewhere. A Remedial Cap (below) was placed on Rare Metals Tailing in the 1990’s, forty years late.

RAREMETALSurfaceCap
The cancer death rate on the reservation — historically much lower than that of the general U.S. population — doubled from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, according to Indian Health Service data. The overall U.S. cancer death rate declined slightly over the same period. Though no definitive link has been established, researchers say exposure to mining byproducts in the soil, air and water almost certainly contributed to the increase in Navajo cancer mortality….LATIMES

In the summer of 2014 North Arizona Researchers have developed a hypothesis that if uranium is photoactivated by UV radiation it could be more harmful to skin than either exposure alone,” said Diane Stearns, professor of biochemistry who with co-author Janice Wilson, developed a study that that once uranium was present on the skin, exposure to UV radiation or sunlight could be chemically toxic and lead to cancerous lesions. The team members now has recommended that future risk assessments regarding cancer caused by uranium exposure include the possibility of photoactivation in skin.

RARE METALS AZ – Images by P.K. Weis

DESERTSUNEditorial: Step cautiously with uranium
PRO & CON

We don’t have to destroy the mining industry to protect the Grand Canyon. But we do have to use our mineral resources wisely to protect our economy. — Hal Quinn is president and CEO of the National Mining Association.

 

Uranium Poisons the Soil……Arizona Republic

 

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PECOS CONFERENCE OPENS WINDOW TO THE VIRGIN ANASAZI’S ARIZONA STRIP FARMERS AND TIMELINE…

ARCHAEOLOGISTS SURVEY THE GROUND ON THE KANE RANCH ON THE ARIZONA STRIP

DOUG McFADDEN leads archaeologists on a tour of a few of the 100 ground features he discovered on the KANE RANCH which claims a big portion of the ARIZONA STRIP.

The VIRGIN ANASAZI are a mystery, in the big World view, there is Chaco Canyon in Northwest New Mexico as the apex of the Anasazi Culture featuring large great houses like Pueblo Bonito, the crown jewel, which was representative of the finest in Pueblo construction. Next comes the Mesa Verde Anasazi who built large cities in the defensive caves of southwest Colorado, like Cliff Palace. Then we have the Kayenta Anasazi of northwestern, Arizona, who are seen as the country cousins. Along the Arizona Strip blending into South Western Utah we find another group THE VIRGIN, similar in Anasazi material culture to the Kayenta, but different in architecture and layout and a ceramic tradition that varied from their kissing cousins the Kayenta Anasazi both in construction and style. It’s controversial and what folks disagree on, differs, but some believe the Kayenta and Virgin are the same. Others wonder to themselves, “Did the Virgin influence the Kayenta?” or just the opposite as everyone else believes!
BLACK MESA BLACK and WHITE, a rare KAYENTA ceramic found on the VIRGIN site compounds the question who influenced who, the KAYENTA people whose material culture is predominant just ten miles to the east or the VIRGIN tradition which extends north into Nevada?
I’m touring a Virgin farming community with Utah Archaeologist Doug McFadden who has studied this parcel of the Kane Ranch off and on over 20 years and he has found lots of sign that these farmers were masters of their own world and not influenced by the outside world, “There’s no farming in the Kanab area”, says McFadden who has found about a 100 sites where these farmers have constructed field houses, wind breaks, check dams, drainage terraces, storage bins and one huge row house. “That’s what makes this pretty exciting”! “This wasn’t happening anyplace else!” Still more unique for these farmers he believes everyone stored their surplus here so they could help out others with shortages. There is little pottery on the site so McFadden thinks the pit house occupation was short and perhaps unsuccessful he believes the Kane Ranch area was farmed during the late Pueblo II period or 1100-1150 AD. Archaeologist Helen J. Fairley, who wrote the book: The prehistory and aboriginal history of the Arizona Strip, differs by saying the site might date as early as 1050 and she points out the two trails leading off the Vermillion Cliffs and the Paria Plateau that allowed prehistoric man to farm the basins below and try to control rainfall and irrigate the land.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS point out the trails leading to the top of the KAIBAB PLATEAU allowing seasonal visits from prehistoric man and later allowed cowboys to push cattle on top during the summer and back to the valley floor during the winter months. Saddle Mountain (top photo above man pointing) provided pathways down to the Colorado RiverThis seasonal double strategy allowed man to follow his game and sprinkle some seed in the lowlands in early spring and seed again in the uplands in the late spring. McFadden wondered why there where so many field houses until he spent a day in a lightning storm and found how exposed one could be there and it would help to get out of the sun or wind while farming when not home. Drought finally got these folks, pushed them toward the drainage and water. Forced to hunt for more food, they might have run into competition with the Southern Paiute or other hunter/gather nomad groups, and warfare or raiding groups may have forced migration and aggregation into larger groups. So much is not understood and in fact little study has taken place in the Arizona Strip Regions, even less has been published or agreed on. Early independent studies in the Strip and Southern Utah raised interest but archaeologist working in isolation in remotes sites found it important to collaborate with other southwest archaeologist working elsewhere and to compare notes and soon the Virgin cultures was found along the Virgin River in Southern Nevada and its expansion questioned whether the Virgin did influence the Kayenta and posed many research questions.

AUGUST 2011 PECOS CONFERENCE was held south of Jacob Lake on forest land near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon….
The Pecos Conference, first proposed in 1927, by Alfred Kidder started out as twenty archaeologist sitting in chair around a pine tree. Each year since archaeologist leave the field in early August and meet up in a cool spot with hundreds of other southwest archaeologist, students, teachers, vocational archaeologist and delivery papers, chat up people about other sites, talk about terminology and try get everyone on the same page. The work of the conference might condense the best of everyone’s work on a specific topic and generate the latest Bible for folks to follow, this generates politics and factions…but a bluegrass band and beer truck and BBQ can frequently take care of any hard feelings about a culture dead and gone by 1200 AD…
TEMPER makes the real difference in determining whether a ceramic is from the Kayenta or Virgin tradition, temper is the glue that holds the clay together, and the Virgins broke up sandstone full of crystals and the Kayenta didn’t…Some of the 350 2011 Pecos participants are given opportunity to view the differences between tempers.

No one really noticed the archaeology of this region until they started to talk of placing a dam across Glen Canyon and creating Lake Powell or flooding Lake Mead, everything done since has been one step ahead of the bulldozers or water. In 2005 Stewardship of the 850,000 acres by the Grand Canyon Trust began with the purchase of the Kane and Two Mile ranch allotments. Those ranches sharing a 110 mile border with the northern edge of Grand Canyon National Park, the ranches extend over most of the Kaibab Plateau from Kanab Creek to the west and down the rolling eastern monocline as the Plateau transitions into the Marble Platform. The ranches continue east across the House Rock Valley to Lees Ferry and northward across the entire Paria Plateau and into Paria Canyon, virtually touching the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument at its northernmost reaches. We tour the Kane Ranch turn-of-the-century Ranch house, completely redone inside, sandstone walls and steps, beautiful conference table and a log cabin out house which has been replaced by a totally solar bathroom over the hill.

KANE RANCH historic ranch 850,000 acres are managed by the Grand Canyon Trust

Wild Bill Hickok stopped at the Kane Ranch to resupply and drink his fill and he moved on along the massive Vermillion Cliffs where today many transplanted Condor have spread their wings to restore the regions biodiversity. Fishermen flock to Lee Ferry for fishing and beer (huge selection, great cheeseburgers) and the wifi hotspot, tourists stop for lunch, check email, gas-up and move on for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The Anasazi (“Ancient Ones”), thought to be ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians, inhabited the Four Corners country of southern Utah, southwestern Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, and northern Arizona from about A.D. 200 to A.D. 1300, leaving a heavy accumulation of house remains and debris. Recent research has traced the Anasazi to the “archaic” peoples who practiced a wandering, hunting, and food-gathering life-style from about 6000 B.C. until some of them began to develop into the distinctive Anasazi culture in the last millennium B.C. During the last two centuries B.C., the people began to supplement their food gathering with maize horticulture. By A.D. 1200 horticulture had assumed a significant role in the economy.

Because their culture changed continually (and not always gradually), PECOS researchers have divided the occupation into periods, each with its characteristic complex of settlement and artifact styles. Since 1927 the most widely accepted nomenclature has been the “Pecos Classification,” which is generally applicable to the whole Anasazi Southwest. Although originally intended to represent a series of developmental stages, rather than periods, the Pecos Classification has come to be used as a period sequence:

Basketmaker I: pre-1000 B.C. (an obsolete synonym for Archaic)

Basketmaker II: c. 1000 B.C. to A.D. 450

Basketmaker III: c. A.D. 450 to 750

Pueblo I: c. A.D. 750 to 900

Pueblo II: c. A.D. 900 to 1150

Pueblo III: c. A.D. 1150 to 1300

Pueblo IV: c. A.D. 1300 to 1600

Pueblo V: c. A.D. 1600 to present (historic Pueblo)

As the Anasazi settled into their village/farming lifestyle, recognizable regional variants or subcultures emerged, which is combined into two larger groups. The eastern branches of the Anasazi culture include the Mesa Verde Anasazi of southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado, and the Chaco Anasazi of northwestern New Mexico. The western Anasazi include the Kayenta Anasazi of northeastern Arizona and the Virgin Anasazi of southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona. To the north of the Anasazi peoples – north of the Colorado and Escalante rivers – Utah was the home of a heterogeneous group of small-village dwellers known collectively as the Fremont.


SOUTHWEST POTTERY JOURNAL


MUSEUM OF NORTHERN ARIZONA


SHOVELBUM.ORG, do you have talent with a shovel-can you dig? Do you have a desire to see what’s in the next shovel?


PECOS papers covered test studies made along the Colorado River inside the Grand Canyon, Petroglyph studies of Sandal Designs and temper differences between VIRGIN ceramics and the KAYENTA ceramics that can look very much the same but have fundamental differences.
EVERY FIFTH YEAR for more than 75 years the PECOS Conference is held at the PECOS PUEBLO north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, it is scheduled there for 2012. There is a 1213 proposal for Flagstaff and a 1214 proposal for PRESCOTT, but money is tight and sponsors are few and far between. New sponsors should be sought-perhaps in Utah, Colorado or New Mexico.

2012 PECOS CONFERENCE AUGUST 9-12, 2012 at PECOS NATIONAL PARK 30 EAST OF SANTA FE NEW MEXICO


DIRECTIONS TO THE 2012 PECOS CONFERENCE AUGUST 2012….CLICK HERE FOR MAPS

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URANIUM MINING in the SOUTH WEST: A LEGACY THAT POISONS THE LAND … AND ” IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY’!

RARE METALS ARIZONA is a former uranium mill that processed thousands of pounds or radioactive ore

“The U.S. Department Of Energy created a demand for uranium–the Navajo lands and scarce waters as well as the lives and health of the Navajo people became the biggest sacrifice ever visited on a people.”

Ed Singer, Cameron Chapter President, Western Navajo Nation

( WHITE DUST PART ONE )

RARE METALS Arizona a uranium mill company town, these foundations were finally bulldozed and removed, so was the topsoil, inches of it scrapped up and trucked away. From June 1956 to November 1966, the Tuba City Rare Metals Mill processed 796,489 tons of uranium ore. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, when the mill closed three connected mill tailing piles containing some 800,000 tons of material and three evaporation ponds remained. The mill became a Superfund site, all that is left of the Rare Metals Mill today is a fenced remediation site. For decades Navajo lived in these homes after the mill closed or the torn down buildings were reused elsewhere.Navajo Sheep Grazing in the exposed Uranium tailing long abandon by Rare Metals Corporation. Remedial Cap below is finally placed at Rare Metals Tailing in the 1990’s, forty years later.

Much of the debate over Uranium is disputed–the argument often pits the Navajo Tribe against mine owners who argue the Tribes religious concerns for the land vs the jobs, salaries that mining brings to a vast wasteland for any economic opportunity. The Navajo people need to be able to feed and house their families has been long exploited by corporations seeking to do business on the reservation. Uranium ore can be found anywhere. It is 40 times more common than silver and 500 times more common than gold but hard to find in concentrations rich enough to take it from the soil.


BBC video of workers underground in a Uranium mine …

Mines sprung up all over the Navajo Reservations during the 1950-60-70’s, some opened, closed, some were forgotten and as the ebb and flow of the mining business, mining operations failed, closed and they walked away from their open sore on the land. “Contaminated Buildings Abandoned on the Reservation are repurposed and utilized are Health Risks”
Since 2006 prices for Uranium ore has been climbing and now the mines are back and they want to take more Uranium from the land and the South West Tribes oppose these advances to pick up where the mines left off. The Legacy of Uranium in Northern Arizona is three Superfund Clean Ups, two in Tuba City, the Rare Metals Mill and the AEC Ore Buying Station (stockpiled uranium ore from other sites for processing) and the Monument Valley Mill site, the New Mexico Tumor Registry is providing information on clusters of cancers, many premature deaths of Uranium Miners many with lung cancers and still decades of study and little action. Beginning in the 1940s and driven by the government’s pursuit of atomic weaponry, more than 1,000 uranium mines were opened throughout the Navajo Nation. Navajo miners and millers were not told of the dangers of working with the uranium or of the simple measures that might have minimized their exposure to radiation. That fact is repeated over and over again by the miners, one who spoke with an air tube, died a few months after his video testimony.
RARE METALS CORPORATION WALKED AWAY FROM THIS MILL AND THESE HOMES contaminated by decades of blowing white dust from the mill and the nearby Atomic Energy Commission tailing, comprised of ore dug elsewhere and trucked in for milling.

Navajo graduate students are studying links between incidents of birth defects in families and the proximity of those families to uranium mine tailing, New Mexico State Tumor Registry data from the late 1970s shows a 17-fold increase in childhood reproductive cancers compared to the U.S. as a whole. These extremely rare cancers are related to hormone systems. Another study looking at registry data from 1970-1982 showed a 2.5-fold increase in these cancers among all Native Americans in New Mexico, many Indians in northern New Mexico are Navajo.

In the mid-1990’s remediation began and the uranium tailing which sat blowing in the wind beside Navajo Rt. 160 for decades was capped and water studies begun. Plumes have been detected and they have stopped just short Moenkopi, two Hopi villages just east of the Navajo community of Tuba City. MOENKOPI, is two villages, Upper Moenkopi and Lower Today residents go to four water tapes for their drinking water. Their wells may any day soon become compromised by the decades of rain leaching over exposed uranium tailing at Rare Metals, Arizona, once a mill for all the mines in the area, today lies capped but it’s legacy is already on the move. The results from shallow groundwater monitoring have identified elevated levels of contaminants near the site, among them: uranium, arsenic, chloride, lead, chromium, strontium, vanadium, and gross alpha and beta activity.

Radioactive Uranium leaks have been tracked getting closer to groundwater that provides drinking water for the two Hopi villages. Studies conducted by HOPI consultants and the Navajo Nation show uranium contamination within 100 feet of water supply wells that provide all the drinking water to the village of Lower Moenkopi. In addition, contamination is within 2,000 feet of the water supply spring that provides all the drinking water to the village of Upper Moenkopi.

Uranium has been detected in Grand Canyon streams at concentrations up to eight times greater than the drinking water standard of 30 micrograms per liter, so the National Park Service no longer recommends that folks bathe or swim in the Colorado River or off shoots of Kanab Creek and concern grow for the fish and for down stream people who drink from the flow…like all the South West: Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angles, Tucson and Mexico.
<a href=”http://www.grandcanyontrust.org/grand-canyon/uranium_issues.php&#8221; title=”RADIATION IN THE GRAND CANYON”>“There should be some places that you just do not mine. Uranium is a special concern because it is both a toxic heavy metal and a source of radiation. I worry about uranium escaping into the local water, and about its effect on fish in the Colorado River at the bottom of the gorge, and on the bald eagles, California condors and bighorn sheep that depend on the Canyon’s seeps and springs. More than a third of the Canyon’s species would be affected if water quality suffered.”
— Steve Martin, former Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent
refhttp://www.grandcanyontrust.org/grand-canyon/uranium_issues.php


Navajo grassroots documentary multi-media studies clutter utube today, gathering more videos all the time, there is a three part study that shows the transition from uranium ore, to yellow cake, to bombs in Iraq and how today three in 10 US Soldiers have unacceptable levels of radiation from uranium enriched bombs used in Iraq. One part of the studies say 100,000 Iraqis will die of cancers. The Grand Canyon Trust says “in 1979, an earthen dam breached, releasing 1,100 tons of radioactive mill wastes and 90 million gallons of contaminated water into a tributary of the Little Colorado River. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission acknowledges that many additional toxic tailing have been washed into our region’s waterways. Collectively, these events correlate with documented risks and harm to people’s health.”

“The first wave of uranium development resulted in dozens of claims and mines to be located in and around the Grand Canyon. In 1984, a flash flood washed tons of high-grade uranium ore from Hack Canyon Mine into Kanab Creek, which drains into Grand Canyon. Located within the Park’s south rim, the Orphan Mine continues to contaminate creeks, prompting the National Park Service to warn backpackers along the Tonto Trail not to use water from the two drainage.” The reason, experts and advocates say, lies high above where the Orphan Mine produced 4.3 million pounds of some of the purest uranium ever found in the U.S. before closing in 1969. The U.S. EPA has declared the mine a Superfund site, the NPS is said to be studying the level of contamination.

Navajos do have a younger population and relatively more young Navajo women get breast cancer than other groups. So the anecdotal evidence for doctors working on the reservation is often disturbing. “When we see women in their 30s with breast cancer, it really knocks everyone for a loop,” says physician Tom Drouhard, who has practiced in Tuba City, Arizona 30 years. “Our ladies come in with later stages and higher death rates. It’s hard to say what the trends are. All of these tumors are multifactorial, and uranium could be another thing thrown at it. We are very paranoid about the situation with uranium. We had uncovered tailing five miles from Tuba City for 20 years. It’s a reasonable concern. Charles Wiggins says, director of the NM Tumor Registry. He plans to re-examine childhood cancer statistics using data gathered since 1982.

“The DOE created a demand for uranium to feed the U.S. Cold War strategy,” said Ed Singer, president of the Cameron Chapter, one of the Navajo Nation’s Western Agency chapters.

“The Navajo people are to this very day paying for that with their health and lives. Large areas of Navajo land and scarce waters upon it as well as the lives and health of the Navajo people became the biggest sacrifice ever visited on a people.”

In the summer of 2014 North Arizona Researchers have developed a hypothesis that if uranium is photoactivated by UV radiation it could be more harmful to skin than either exposure alone,” said Diane Stearns, professor of biochemistry who with co-author Janice Wilson, developed a study that that once uranium was present on the skin, exposure to UV radiation or sunlight could be chemically toxic and lead to cancerous lesions. The team members now has recommended that future risk assessments regarding cancer caused by uranium exposure include the possibility of photoactivation in skin.

“They’ve tried to clean up the water table for years, they can’t do it. It can’t be done!”

Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. explains why the NAVAJO people and other leaders of the HOPI and HAVASUPAI Tribes say NO to Uranium mining.”NO, WE JUST DON’T WANT IT ANY WHERE ON NAVAJO LAND!” SHIRLEY said.

RARE METALS AZ – Images by P.K. Weis

ARIZONA REPUBLIC URANIUM STUDY ….CLICK HERE

 

 

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