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After decades of high cancer rates and birth defects, EPA finally begins cleanup of Navajo reservations


Uranium mines

(NaturalNews) It's a shameful fact that Native American communities remain among the most economically-disadvantaged and environmentally-impacted in our nation. And among the various tribal nations, none have suffered more than the Navajo people whose lands and waters have been poisoned from decades of uranium mining.

But Navajo reservations may now finally receive some long overdue help in cleaning up the mess created by uranium mining companies over the last 60 years.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 31 that it is now seeking $85 million worth of bids from environmental assessment companies to begin documenting the extent of the damage in preparation for new cleanup efforts.



The cleanup operations will be funded in part by a $1 billion dollar bankruptcy settlement levied against Tronox Incorporated (formerly known as Kerr-McGee), which operated uranium mines throughout Navajo lands.

More than 500 uranium mines on Navajo lands, some extremely dangerous

There are more than 500 mines in the region that have already been identified, but there are estimated to be hundreds more, and some are particularly dangerous to the environment and those living nearby.

From Mint Press News:

"So far, 523 mines have been identified in the region, and the EPA and Navajo Nation have made a list of 46 which pose the greatest threat to residents or water sources. The EPA has cleanup agreements with 30 of the companies responsible for these mines, while the Justice Department will cover the cleanup costs for the remaining 16. Nine of these dangerous mines have already been targeted for treatment."

Many of the mines, which are located throughout parts of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, are full of mining waste containing dangerously high levels of gamma radiation, which has led to contamination of water supplies and the poisoning of many members of the Navajo Nation.

The contamination has caused "increased rates of cancer, genetic defects, Navajo neurohepatopathy, and increases in mortality" among residents of the affected regions, according to Mnar Muhawesh, editor/publisher of Mint Press News:

"Lack of reliable access to clean, unpolluted water is a recurring issue for Native American and First Nations communities throughout North America. About 40 percent of the Navajo lack running water, with many depending on monthly water deliveries for survival."

As Muhawesh has noted, the Navajo Nation has for many decades endured a water contamination crisis that is "far worse and more persistent" than that of the residents of Flint, Michigan, who are still in the midst of a lead contamination problem that began in 2014 when that city's water supply was switched.

Sadly, the plight of the Navajo people has gone largely unnoticed by the press and, more importantly, by those responsible for cleaning up polluted sites – in other words, the EPA.

That may be beginning to change, but it's presumably of little consolation to those who have already been poisoned during decades of total neglect.

A history of exploitation and neglect

Native American communities are often affected by industrial pollution, as the reservations they have been herded onto by the U.S. government have been commonly exploited for natural resources such as gold, uranium and petroleum.

And these industries have nearly always shown an utter disregard for the environment, not to mention the lives and culture of the Native Americans who live in these exploited regions.

Another example includes the disastrous King Gold Mine cleanup operation in Colorado conducted by the EPA, which in 2015 caused a spill of millions of gallons of toxic waste into the Animus River, leading to the contamination of hundreds of miles of waterways in three states, including areas of the Navajo Nation.

Currently, there is also a protest movement regarding the planned Dakota Pipeline project, which directly threatens the water supply and sacred burial sites of the North Dakota Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The protests now involve members of more than 100 Native American tribes who have banded together to oppose the project, but the outcome is still uncertain.

Meanwhile, the shameful treatment of our indigenous people continues – as it has for centuries – but the planned uranium mine cleanup operation at least offers some small hope for change.

Better late than never, I suppose. ...

Sources:

MintPressNews.com

MintPressNews.com

Science.NaturalNews.com

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