August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, July 23, 2012

NO Uranium mining in Church Rock, NM, until waste is cleaned up

Photo Larry King/by Leona Morgan
Land targeted for new uranium mining

By Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining ENDAUM
Photos by Leona Morgan, Navajo
Censored News

CHURCHROCK, N.M. — On July 19, 2012, the uranium mining company Hydro Resources Inc. signed an agreement with the Navajo Nation giving the mining company limited access across Navajo Indian Country to its Churchrock Section 8 mine site. The agreement specifically states that Hydro Resources (a subsidiary of Uranium Resources Inc.) cannot begin mining uranium until legacy waste at Section 8 and adjacent Section 17 has been cleaned up.

Hydro Resources announced its intention to mine uranium on Section 8 and Section 17 in 1994. Community members organized themselves as the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) and sought the help of the nonprofit law firm New Mexico Environmental Law Center to keep irresponsible uranium mining from returning to Navajo lands. ENDAUM has kept the fight going for over a decade and Hydro Resources has yet to break ground.

Photo Leona Morgan
ENDAUM’s mission is to ensure that the water, air, land and community health are protected. Leona Morgan, ENDAUM Coordinator explains, “ENDAUM believes it is our right as Indigenous Peoples to preserve our traditional and cultural Diné resources that may be affected if uranium mining is allowed anywhere within the Four Sacred Mountai ns or on other Indigenous Peoples’ homelands. ENDAUM and our allies will continue to fight for the right to safe drinking water supplies for all life, for all our relations and future generations,” says Morgan.

"Hydro Resources’ parent company, Uranium Resources Inc., is struggling to pay for clean-up at its uranium operations in Texas,” says Eric Jantz, attorney for ENDAUM. “We're skeptical that Hydro Resources will be able to pay for clean-up at Church Rock.  In any event, ENDAUM and the people of Church Rock will be watching Hydro Resources and the Navajo Nation to ensure that their land and families are protected.”

Navajo land that uranium miners
would have to cross
Photo Leona Morgan
The Navajo Nation fined Hydro Resources for trespass earlier this year when the company crossed tribal trust land in order to access its property on Section 8. The agreement was made to allow Hydro Resources limited access to Section 8 and require that Hydro Resources submit to Navajo Nation jurisdiction for its operations in Indian Country as well as clean up the radioactive waste on its property before any new mining commences. 

“The Navajo Nation doesn't currently have clean-up regulations under its Superfund law — those regulations will have to be written,” says Morgan. “ENDAUM will be engaged in this process to ensure that the highest clean-up standards are adopted to protect the community.”

Larry J. King, ENDAUM Board member, stands at the gate to his residence and points out the area of Section 8 where Hydro Resources (a subsidiary of Uranium Resources Inc.) plans to mine uranium using in situ leach methods.
Section8-NN 193KB.jpg
This photo shows the area of Navajo trust land that HRI must cross in order to access their private land. The mining is planned for an area to the right at the base of the mesa.
Section8-gate 157KB.jpg
This gate and fence delineate State of New Mexico jurisdiction from the 10-15 feet of Navajo Nation jurisdiction that HRI must cross in order to reach its project site in Churchrock, NM.

Leona Morgan
Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining

Eric Jantz
Staff Attorney
New Mexico Environmental Law Center


Alaskans rally to tell EPA 'NO!' to Shell

Photo Alaska's Big Village Network
Alaskans Rally to tell EPA “NO!” to Shell

Censored News
Today: July 23, 2012

ANCHORAGE -- A group of concerned Alaskans are rallying outside of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Alaska Headquarters to demand that the agency uphold the Law and deny Shell’s request for a pollution waiver for its Arctic drilling project. This rally is held in conjunction with a rally of environmental organizations at EPA’s US headquarters in Washington, DC.

Shell is trying to obtain major changes to the Clean Air Act requirements for three different pollutants from two different sources, the Discoverer, and the ice-class oil spill response barge, the Nanuq. Shell is asking for EPA to completely do away with its limit on ammonia emissions, to triple limits on nitrogen oxide and to alter its limit for particulate matter.

"The Arctic Ocean is my garden," says Earl Kingik, Tribal Liaison for Alaska Wilderness League, "Please, no drilling in my garden."

The Arctic Ocean provides abundant food and rich cultural resources for the Inupiat. The toxic air pollution falls out into the Arctic Ocean, where it wreaks havoc on the ecosystem productivity and the welfare of Inupiat and all Alaska Native peoples that depend on migratory marine species. The particle pollution bioaccumulates in all organisms from the plankton to the marine birds, fish, whales, walrus, seals and ultimately this pollution adversely impacts the health of indigenous peoples and foremost, the Inupiat.

“EPA must ensure that meaningful and significant consultation occurs with Tribal Governments on significant changes to Shell’s permits,” says Delice Calcote, Executive Director for Alaska Inter-Tribal Council (AITC). AITC has a 2009 resolution opposing offshore exploration and drilling.

The Alaska Wilderness League and Pacific Environment were among 16 groups that sent a letter to EPA on Thursday, July 19th, calling on the agency to deny Shell's request and saying the company would be in violation of Clean Air Act regulations if EPA allowed the waiver.

“Shell has problems that are racking up, and they are backtracking on their promises to the coastal communities”, says Nikos Pastos, Environmental Sociologist for Center for Water Advocacy. “The US Government needs to take a critical look at Shell’s oil spill response capabilities in the harsh Arctic Ocean ice conditions.”

Shell’s drillship, Noble Discover, is being investigated by the US Coast Guard on how the ship narrowly averted disaster in Dutch Harbor last Saturday when it appeared to run aground. Questions remain about how this ship will handle Arctic sea ice as it barely avoided catastrophe in the non-ice waters of the Northern Pacific and Southern Bering Sea.

Shell also backtracked and downgraded its aging oil spill response barge, Arctic Challenger, to less stringent requirements in the event of a major storm as it continues to undergo construction in Bellingham, WA. The 38-year old barge that is set to ‘anchor’ between the Beaufort and Chukchi is clearly not up to design standards to handle extreme Arctic conditions.
Where: 222 W. 7th Ave (corner of C Street) Contact: Carl Wassilie, Alaska’s Big Village Network

When: 12pm- 1pm, Monday July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012

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