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Episode 4: Deserted Mines, Deserted Well being – Half II

Individuals residing on and close to the Navajo Nation have been grappling with the legacy of 40-plus years of uranium mining. In accordance to Environmental Safety Company cleanup stories and congressional hearings, mines have been deserted, radioactive waste was neglected within the open, and groundwater was contaminated.

This episode is the second half of a two-part collection about uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. Half I discusses the historical past and financial forces that introduced mining tasks to Indigenous land. It additionally explores working circumstances uranium miners confronted, and the response of the federal authorities when employees uncovered to dangerous radiation spoke out.

Deserted Mines, Deserted Well being – Half II continues the dialog with former uranium miners. It explores what a coalition of Indigenous leaders and non-Native locals are doing to power the cleanup of hazardous uranium mining websites and search expanded recognition by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which supplies remuneration to former uranium employees harmed by radiation publicity.

The push for consideration and recognition from Congress was troublesome. Alongside the way in which, former employees and native residents fashioned advocacy teams targeted on documenting employee well being.

Former mine employee Phil Harrison was amongst those that went to Washington, D.C., to push for a cleanup plan.

“Seven of us testified,” Harrison recalled, “and, based mostly on that, they gave a directive to federal companies who mentioned, ‘OK, EPA, BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs], Nuclear Regulatory Fee. That is what we’re going to do.’”

Residents have additionally served as volunteers serving to to form environmental analysis on the lasting results of uranium mining on the land.

At the moment, Indigenous teams say they proceed to uncover air pollution from the 1979 tailings pond spill close to Church Rock, New Mexico. RECA is ready to expire in June of this yr except Congress acts. In the meantime, future uranium mining tasks loom as a risk.

(Oona Tempest / KHN)

Voices from the episode:

Linda Evers, president of Publish 71 Uranium Workers Committee and former uranium mine employee
Phil Harrison, president of the Navajo Uranium Radiation Victims Committee and former uranium mine employee
Larry King, activist and former uranium mine employee
Judy Pasternak, journalist and writer of Yellow Dust: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a Individuals Betrayed
Ben Ray Luján, Democratic U.S. senator from New Mexico

Season 4 of “American Prognosis” is a co-production of KHN and Just Human Productions.

Our Editorial Advisory Board contains Jourdan Bennett-BegayeAlastair Bitsóí, and Bryan Pollard.

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