Article: Once Upon a Mine: The Legacy of Uranium on the Navajo Nation

“Decades of uranium mining have dotted the landscape across the Navajo Nation with piles of contaminated mine waste. The EPA has mapped 521 abandoned uranium mines on the reservation, ranging from small holes dug by a single prospector into the side of a mesa to large commercial mining operations.1 The Navajo people did not have a word for “radioactivity” when mining outfits looking for vanadium2 and uranium3 began moving onto their land in the 1940s, and they did not understand that radiation could be dangerous. They were not told that the men who worked in the mines were breathing carcinogenic radon gas and showering in radioactive water, nor that the women washing their husbands’ work clothes could spread radionuclides to the rest of the family’s laundry.”

(Full article here)

In Saskatchewan where physicians have been advocating for a base-line health study for decades without success we are facing the same soaring increases in cancer and non-HIV AIDS, like lupus. Both the government and the uranium industry have known of the health impacts since the 50’s yet, they continue to increase uranium production at an increasingly heavy cost to aboriginal people.

They studied the miners who they used to get the uranium but they refuse to study the local populations who are also getting sick and dying claiming that the populations are too small to get any definitive result. How can that be true if the number of miners studied was an even smaller number?

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