[ RadSafe ] FW: [NukeNet] Navajo Nation's Ongoing Battle vs. Uranium Mining

StevenFrey at aol.com StevenFrey at aol.com
Mon Mar 6 10:20:21 CST 2006

Hi Norm, out of curiosity, do any of these antinuclear activist groups  claim 
Federal Tax Code Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status? 
For any that do (including Salem Alert or whatever it's  called), then their 
sources of funding must be made known upon  request.
A case can be made that no such activist group can be seriously regarded as  
possibly being objective unless the financial backing is known and motives  
behind the money determined....which is exactly the same expectations that  
antinuclear groups have toward 'establishment' proponents of nuclear  technology..
Steve Fey, MS, CHP
In a message dated 3/6/2006 11:01:35 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
ncohen12 at comcast.net writes:

Coalition for Peace and Justice; UNPLUG Salem Campaign, 321 Barr  Ave,
Linwood; NJ08221; 609-601-8583
-----Original Message-----
From:  Nukenet-bounces at energyjustice.net
[mailto:Nukenet-bounces at energyjustice.net]  On Behalf Of Mike Ewall
Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 10:27 AM
To:  nukenet at energyjustice.net
Subject: [NukeNet] Navajo Nation's Ongoing Battle  vs. Uranium Mining

NukeNet Anti-Nuclear Network  (nukenet at energyjustice.net)

The Navajo Nation's Ongoing Battle Against  Uranium Mining

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006 Democracy  Now!


We  look at the ongoing battle over uranium mining in the Navajo 
Nation.  Mining has occurred on Navajo territory for over fifty years 
and the  impact is still being felt. We speak with the directors of 
the Eastern  Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining and the Southwest 
Research and  Information Center. [includes rush transcript] We are 
broadcasting from  New Mexico - home to the Navajo Nation. For decades 
they have been  fighting an ongoing battle against uranium mining on 
their land. Last  April, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley approved 
legislation banning  uranium mining on Navajo territory. There is 
currently no mining on the  Navajo reservation but Hydro Resources 
Inc. has been working with the  Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
for years to try to get approval for  mining near the Navajo 
communities of Crownpoint and Church Rock, New  Mexico. The company 
estimates nearly one-hundred million pounds of uranium  exists on 
those sites making it worth millions of dollars.

Uranium  mining occurred on the Navajo Reservation for over fifty 
years and the  impact is still felt. The land has been dotted with 
contaminated tailings  and hundreds of abandoned mines that have not 
been cleaned  up.

There have been few studies on the health effects in reservation  
communities, but Navajos have suffered from high cancer rates and  
respiratory problems. One study has found that cancer rates among  
Navajo teenagers living near mine tailings are 17 times the  national

The Navajo Reservation is home to more than  180,000 people. Over half 
the population lives below the U.S. poverty  line.

The group Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining, or ENDAUM,  and 
the Southwest Research and Information Center have been fighting  
mining company HRI for over a decade in court. In a few minutes we  
will speak with the directors of SRIC and ENDAUM, but first we turn 
to  the documentary "Homeland" that takes a look at the battle against 
uranium  mining in Crownpoint and Chruch Rock.

* "Homeland"  - excerpt of documentary produced by the Katahdin
* Chris Shuey, director of the Southwest Research and  Information
* Wynoma Foster, director of  Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium


AMY GOODMAN: In a few minutes we'll speak with the directors  of both 
groups, but first we turn to an excerpt of the documentary,  Homeland, 
that takes a look at the battle against uranium mining in  Crownpoint 
and Church Rock. It's produced by Katahdin Foundation. This  excerpt 
begins with the co-founder of ENDAUM, Rita Capitan.

RITA CAPITAN: In 1994, in the evening, we were here at  home 
and Mitchell brought the paper home, as he does every day, and we  
both read it about two or three times in disbelief that uranium 
mining  is to begin in Crownpoint and Church Rock. They're starting up  again.

NARRATOR: From here you can see the  whole town of Crownpoint. 
Mitchell and Rita live just below the water tank  there in the 
distance, and as you can see, very, very close to where the  Hydro 
Resources Incorporated plans to put the uranium mine.

RITA CAPITAN: Without any public hearings, the Nuclear  
Regulatory Commission granted permission for the deadly carcinogen to  
be mined right next to Crownpoint schools and churches.

MITCHELL CAPITAN: I don't understand N.R.C., the United  States 
government, why they could do this again. Why they would have a  mine 
like this near our community.

NARRATOR: The N.R.C. had granted permission for the 
Texas-based company to  conduct the mining with a process called, "in 
situ leach  mining."

EXPERT: The mining company intends  to inject chemicals down 
into the aquifer next to the community water  supply. Those chemicals 
will leach, or strip, the uranium off of the rock  into the aquifer, 
creating, basically, a toxic soup.

MITCHELL CAPITAN: Rita started to ask me questions, "Isn't  
this what you have worked before, you know, this kind of mining, in  
situ leach mining?" I said, "Yeah."

RITA  CAPITAN: Mitchell worked as a lab technician for Mobil 
Oil in the  1980s.

MITCHELL CAPITAN: Mobil was doing a  pilot project with the in 
situ leach mining west of Crownpoint. I worked  in the lab with the 
engineers, and no matter how hard we tried, we could  never get all 
the uranium out of the water. We closed the project. This is  what 
made me start thinking about the environment, especially our  water.

RITA CAPITAN: We talked about having  a community meeting.

MITCHELL CAPITAN: And  we decided to do something about it.

RITA  CAPITAN: We put an article in the newspaper. To our 
surprise, at our first  meeting close to fifty community members came 
to that meeting. There were  so many people there, a lot of faces I've 
never seen before. But when we  went up there to talk about it, right 
away we had landowners started to  tell us we should stay out of their 
business. That's their land, and they  can do whatever they want. It 
was scary. It was so humiliating. It just  felt like the whole 
community just split.

NARRATOR: There were people who stood up and accused them of  
anything from witchcraft to taking food out of the mouths of their  
grandchildren and standing in the way of people making lots of money  
off of the uranium leases.

RITA CAPITAN:  We lost some friends. That's something that was 
really sad for us. We'd  never wanted that to happen in our community.

NARRATOR: This proposal split families. It just didn't split  
the community, and it didn't split clans. It split blood  families.

RITA CAPITAN: There were some  scary times when we were told, 
just be careful, just take care of  yourself. So I had to really 
protect my family. That's one of the reasons  why Mitchell and I 
really had to find faith, and three years ago we became  members of 
the Catholic Church.

NARRATOR: There's a few families, they own the mineral rights 
for their  land. In the distance, you can see the area around where 
the mining  company is. That's owned by a few Navajo families. Those 
families have  been promised huge sums of money by the mining company. 
And they have been  told that this mining process is, quote, "safe."

LANDOWNER: I think when H.R.I. approached my family, the first  
question was: Is it safe? We arranged with the H.R.I. people to  
actually go to a mine where it's in operation. I even touched some of  
the uranium that was there, and I read about it. I asked questions a  
lot. And I think H.R.I. did a good job, because they took us down  there.

RITA CAPITAN: We're not fighting with  landowners 
[unintelligible]. We're fighting with this  company.

LANDOWNER: The mother company of  H.R.I., Uranium Resources, 
have worked with this technology for 30 years  in south Texas. So, 
that experience, that's what they going to use here to  mine uranium.

H.R.I. REPRESENTATIVE: With in  situ mining, we drill wells. 
Whatever goes underground, there are no  occupational hazards 
associated with underground mining and solution  mining. In fact, our 
miners are electric pumps.

SECOND H.R.I. REPRESENTATIVE: We used natural groundwater to  
leach the uranium. It's brought to the surface, and what we add is, 
we  add oxygen and possibly some carbonate-club soda-to the water 
where it's  re-injected into the ground.

NARRATOR: The  action of pumping dissolved oxygen and sodium 
bicarbonate into the rocks  causes that uranium concentration to 
increase almost 100,000 times. So you  go from very high quality 
pristine water, and you make it a toxic soup.  Nobody can drink it.

SECOND H.R.I.  REPRESENTATIVE: It's safe as long as it's 
contained, and as you can see  here in this jar, it is contained.

NARRATOR:  So, the company has to make sure that none of that 
stuff escapes, because  it's a poison.

SECOND H.R.I. REPRESENTATIVE:  The entire well field is circled 
by monitor wells.

NARRATOR: Because the underground buried stream beds are  
narrower than the distance between the monitor wells, our fear is 
that  a leakage of the mining fluids will escape, go past those 
monitor wells,  and never be detected.

EXPERT: We have  experts and hydrologists that have shown that 
that contamination will  reach the drinking wells within less than 
seven years. It will, if this  mine goes through, destroy the only 
source of drinking water for 15,000  people.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of the documentary Homeland produced by  the 
Katahdin Foundation. And we're joined here in Albuquerque by Chris  
Shuey, who is in the film, Director of Southwest Research and  
Information Center, and Wynoma Foster, Director of ENDAUM, Eastern  
Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining. We did contact Hydro Resources,  
but they didn't return our calls. We welcome you both to Democracy  Now!


AMY GOODMAN: Can you place this  in the country for us? Where are 
these places that we are talking about,  Wynoma?

WYNOMA FOSTER: Well, from Albuquerque, it's about two hours  west of 
here in a Navajo community right near Gallup, New  Mexico.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about what's happening right  now.

WYNOMA FOSTER: As of right now, we're still trying to hold off a  
company, Hydro Resources, from proposing to mine uranium with the new  
in situ leach method that they want to use to extract uranium. And 
the  big issue that lies there right now is that it's - these mining 
companies  are ignoring the Natural Resource Protection Act that was 
passed within  the Navajo Nation government. And with that we are very 
concerned, not  only because they are ignoring that-our sovereign 
right to protect our  resources and our people-but also because there 
are past issues that still  exist within those communities in Church 
Rock, as far as the need for  reclamation of abandoned mines and 
communities and people, children with  their families that live right 
next to these abandoned mines.

Those  are the big issues that we still face. And trying to work with  
communities. Former miners are dealing with health effects and cancer  
issues and down into compensation issues. So, those are all of the  
issues that we have to deal with, and trying to hold off the mining  company.

AMY GOODMAN: Chris Shuey, we have - in the country, there is  
attention now being paid to miners because of what has happened in  
West Virginia. Can you talk about uranium miners and what has 
happened  over the years, and then how that leads to today and the 
struggle you're  in right now?

CHRIS SHUEY: Amy, there's been numerous studies of  uranium workers 
and uranium miners, underground miners throughout the  Colorado 
Plateau over the years. And it's -- those studies have fairly  clearly 
shown that miners suffer lung cancer and respiratory diseases at  much 
higher rates than the normal population. The Navajo miners are a  
particularly important subset, because they have suffered those same  
kinds of diseases at much higher rates, disproportionately higher  
rates than even the rest of the Colorado Plateau miners. And the  
compensation scheme that the government came up with in 1990 and then  
amended in 2000 that Wynoma talked about has, in our view,  
discriminated against the Native American miners. There's -- the  
Navajo portion of those eligible from about a third of all the  
Colorado Plateau miners; and yet, the total compensation awards for  
Navajos have run about 11% through September of last year.

There  are numbers of groups in the Shiprock area headed by a 
gentlemen named  Philip Harrison, who's made it his life to try to 
correct these problems,  especially with the Justice Department's 
implementation of the  compensation law. The government doesn't quite 
get how Navajo and Native  American cultures and communities work. And 
so it's been very difficult  for many of the old workers to prove up 
their claims through things like  marriage licenses that never 
existed. And so those are amongst the human  impacts of past mining 
that are still going on today.

AMY GOODMAN:  Now, do the miners fall under the same agency as miners 
that - what we've  been focusing on in places like West Virginia? Our 
headline today, "In  mining news, the New York Times reporting the 
Bush administration has  decreased the fines for major mining 
companies, failed to collect fines on  nearly half the mine safety 
violations issued under its watch. Mine safety  regulation has come 
under increased scrutiny with the deaths of 24  miners." How does that

CHRIS SHUEY: The Mine Safety and  Health Administration also is the 
regulation entity for underground  miners. There are no underground 
mines operating in the Navajo Nation.  There were a few that were 
reopened here recently as the price of uranium  has gone up, up in 
Colorado, but I believe that those have been shut down,  too. If you 
talk to miners that worked out of Navajo, say in the 1970s,  they will 
tell you over and over again that they don't believe that they  were 
adequately protected even after those same MSHA rules came into  
effect, and they have a very difficult time understanding and  
obtaining their old exposure records. And they're not a part of the  
compensation class. They're ineligible. So, there's a whole category  
of what we call post-1971 uranium miners and mill workers who may 
have  health problems that cannot get compensation at this point.

AMY  GOODMAN: What are the health problems in the communities,  Wynoma?

WYNOMA FOSTER: We have direct - we have respiratory  illnesses-asthma, 
there's a rise in asthma, especially with the younger  children into 
the teens; and then also cancer issues, different types of  cancers 
are affecting people, and then we're also realizing that  dependants 
of former uranium mine workers are also starting to be  diagnosed with 
cancers, as well. And diabetes is still a big issue, as  well.

AMY GOODMAN: And the argument if the mining happens right outside  the 
reservation property?

WYNOMA FOSTER: It's within Navajo Indian  country. They can say that 
it's near an Indian community, Navajo  community, but it's right 
within the jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation and  within the communities.

AMY GOODMAN: What are you each calling for  right now in, Chris Shuey?

CHRIS SHUEY: We're - There's several things  that are going on. We 
have worked with the Navajo Nation to ensure that  there's an 
enforcement strategy for the Dine Natural Resources Protection  Act. 
And it remains to be seen how that will all play out as the companies  
continue to move forward with their new plans. We are doing a lot of  
work on the legacy issues, working with Church Rock on environmental  
assessments in the residential areas near the old mines, working with  
the community members to assess some of their concerns about health.  
There have been no major health studies in communities. Lots of  
information and studies on workers, but not on community members who  
live near mining. It's a major gap in what we know. It needs to  be

AMY GOODMAN: And, finally, your final comments, as we  talk about what 
the future will look like.

WYNOMA FOSTER: Well, we  hope to continue to protect our resources, 
our natural resources, which is  our -- for my own community, an hour 
north of Church Rock, where they're  also proposing uranium mining. 
Our only source of drinking water provides  for 15,000-plus Navajo 
people and we don't want any uranium mining  whatsoever.

AMY GOODMAN: We are going to have to leave it here. I want  to thank 
you very much for being with us, Wynoma Foster, Director of  Endaum, 
which is the Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining, and Chris  
Shuey, Director of the Uranium Impact Assessment Program and 
Southwest  Research and Information Center.  

Subscribe/Unsubscribe  Here: http://www.energyjustice.net/nukenet/
Change your settings or access  the archives  at:

You  are currently subscribed to the RadSafe mailing list

Before posting a  message to RadSafe be sure to have read and understood the 
RadSafe rules.  These can be found at: 

For  information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe and other settings visit: 


More information about the RadSafe mailing list