Sovereignty and Common Sense
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) - The Navajo Nation has outlawed uranium mining and processing on its reservation, which sprawls across parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and contains one of the world's largest deposits of uranium ore.
Tribal President Joe Shirley Jr. must give the bill final approval. His spokesman said Thursday that Shirley ``strongly'' supports it.
Mining companies began blasting holes on the reservation, which covers 27,000 square miles, in the 1940s and continued for nearly 40 years until decreased demand closed the operations.
By then, the Navajos were left with radiation sickness, contaminated tailings and abandoned mines. To avoid repeating the past, Navajo leaders and grassroots organizations have been working for years to keep mining from starting again.
The Dine People are familiar with the historic toxic effects of uranium mining. This move to forbid uranium processing on their territory will also protect their aquifer from in situ leach mining, a process described in the May 2003 New York Times article about the health effects of uranium mining on the people of this area.
Hydro Resources Inc., a subsidiary of Uranium Resources Inc. of Dallas, wants to begin a new mining effort in Crownpoint and nearby Church Rock using a process called in situ leach mining. In the process, a mixture of water, dissolved oxygen and sodium bicarbonate is pumped deep into underground uranium beds. The mixture dissolves uranium, and when the liquid is pumped back to the surface, the uranium can be removed, dried and processed.
Uranium in solution as safe? In the ground? Yeah, right...
Nuclearfiles.org is a comprehensive resource for informing yourself about nuclear energy, weapons, waste- ethics and history, in a human context.
An interesting aside about the traditional beliefs of the Dine` People:
The Diné (pronounced dee-NAY) or ''the People,'' as the Navajo call themselves, have many stories about their origins. One says that as they emerged from the fourth world into the fifth and present world, they were given the choice of two yellow powders. One yellow powder was corn pollen, and that was the one they chose.
The other was the color of the dust that seems to give this land its golden hue, dust the color of yellowcake, the uranium oxide that fueled the nuclear age. So much yellowcake lies below the surface that a mining executive called this place the Saudi Arabia of uranium.
The Spirits said it had to be left alone.