August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Photos: Church Rock Uranium Spill 31st Anniversary

Church Rock Navajos commemorate 1979 uranium spill

New uranium mining targets Church Rock, where the soil and water remain heavily contaminated

Photos copyright by Garrett Brennan Stewart, Navajo:
Censored News
My name is Garrett Brennan Stewart, Navajo. My clans are Totsohnii born for T'logi, my maternal grandfather's clan is Naasht'ezhi Tachiinii, and my paternal grandfather's clan is Todichiinii.
Since May, I've been an assistant to Phil Bluehouse, a practitioner of Navajo Peacemaking, which is a method of conflict resolution which utilizes traditional Navajo teachings and philosophy in addressing contemporary concerns. I've documented Phil's work with a community action group from Church Rock, NM (RWPRCA) in their comprehensive planning workshops with USEPA , Navajo EPA, and United Nuclear Corporation/General Electric.
The residents of the community group all reside within very close proximity of the abandoned North East Church Rock Mine, which was previously managed by United Nuclear Corporation. Apparently, the area of the Red Pond Road is highly contaminated, and the concerned parties are trying to come to an agreement as to how the land will be remediated/restored and where the residents will be relocated and for how long.
Enclosed are photos i took at the 31st anniversary march commemorating the 1979 Church Rock Uranium Mill Tailings Spill, including links to video footage which contains bits of information conveyed by Teddy Nez, the president of the Community Group, RWPRCA, and Larry King, resident of Church Rock. There was a 15 minute clip that contained much of Larry's commentary related to the morning of the spill as well as a geiger test of a fenceline on the Abandoned Uranium Mine. Unfortunately, YouTube uploads are limited to 10 minute clips, so I'll edit the piece and upload it again, soon.
This information needs to be shared.
I'd really appreciate it if you could assist us in getting this information out there.
And the YouTube channel of footage I shot on July 16:
Kind regards,
Garrett Brennan Stewart
Also see: "Indian Country" Nuclear Spill Site Approved Again for Uranium Mining


The Northeast Church Rock Mine Site, an abandoned uranium mine(AUM), is located about 16 miles northeast of Gallup, New Mexico. The site is primarily on tribal trust land adjacent to the Navajo Reservation. The site was mined by United Nuclear Corporation (UNC) between 1968 and 1982. UNC holds responsibility for current contamination at the site. Radium and uranium are the contaminants of primary concern at the site. Radiation and heavy metals in site soils from historic mining practices may pose a significant health risk to human health and to the environment . People may be exposed to these contaminants through ambient air, soil, surface water, sediment, and by eating plants or animals that are impacted by the site. The Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency (NNEPA) and the USEPA have independently identified the site as the highest priority AUM among the 520 AUMs identified on the Navajo Nation. This site is the highest priority because it was the largest underground uranium mine in the country and radioactive waste piles continue to spread into the wash and onto the land surrounding several homes located adjacent to the mine.

32st Anniversary of Church Rock Uranium Spill Part I

totsohniinishli | July 18, 2010
The opening prayer of the 2 mile walk down to the commemoration site. I apologize for the shaky camera hand.

Church Rock 31st Anniversary of Mill Tailings Spill Part II

totsohniinishli | July 18, 2010
Teddy Nez, President of the community action group, Red Water Pond Road Community Association, talks about the dirt road that leads to his residence, the status of the Restoration/Remediation effort, as well as the incomplete back-filling of a hillside that rests within very close proximity to his home.