Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 2, 2016

Navajo water contamination more horrific than Flint's

Coal mining, power plants, uranium mines and uranium spills have poisoned the Navajo Nation water

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News copyright

Navajo water has long been contaminated by Peabody Coal mining on Black Mesa, Cold War uranium spills and strewn radioactive tailings.
Recently, the US EPA poisoned the Animas and San Juan Rivers with a gold mine spill. The spill devastated Navajo farmers who depend on the water to irrigate their crops.
Further, the US government knew when it relocated Navajos from Black Mesa to the Sanders, Arizona, area that radiation from the Church Rock, N.M. uranium spill on July 16, 1979, would poison the water when it flowed down the Rio Puerco wash to Navajo Nation and Arizona communities.
Today, tests confirm the radioactivity in the drinking water in the Sanders area.
In the Four Corners region on the Navajo Nation, three dirty coal fired power plants poison the water with runoffs, near Page, Arizona, and Farmington, N.M.
The dirty coal electricity lights up Phoenix, Tucson and other cities. Meanwhile, Navajos suffer from the coal mining and power plant pollution. Many Navajos have no running water and are forced to haul their water long distances.
The media, both in Indian country and the mainstream media, have failed to expose the truth.
The public remains unaware of the extensive pollution and corporate exploitation on the Navajo Nation.

From Robert Seals:

Photo Louise Benally speaking in DC
English, French and Dutch
French translation by Christine Prat
My name is Robert Seals. I have been following the Flint, Michigan water crisis story and wish to shine a light on another water contamination story that is much older and just as horrific as Flint's.

The Navajo Black Mesa water supply has, for decades, been destroyed by Peabody Mining Company. The wells have been drained to make slurry in order to pipeline coal and the remaining water supply is contaminated with uranium which is now leaching into the Colorado river. This is the short version of the little known story that desperately needs to be told. There has been no potable water on the reservation for decades. When a city like Flint is in crisis, everyone gets agitated/involved. However, there is no one talking about the tragic situation that has been taking place on the Navajo Black Mesa and no one is being held accountable for this travesty. The spokesperson for Black Mesa is Louise Benally. She will give you the complete story. (

Here is a brief statement from Louise: "Our water has been impacted since the 1950's on to today. When different minerals were discovered on the Navajo Reservation in the 1940s-1950- through to this day (now 2016), ground water has been used to extract uranium. The ground and surface waters have been used and released back into holding ponds and/or released into the surface waters. Coal Mining on Black Mesa used water to transport coal for 276 miles and continued pumping ground water for pushing Black Mesa Coal to Laughlin, Nevada. Today there are holding ponds that are not monitored at Black Mesa which seep into the run offs/into the surface waterways- headwaters.

There is a lot of contamination on our reservation, in most of the regions- New Lands- Sanders, Arizona. There is no water that is safe for people to drink. In the western agency area, there has been no safe drinking water since the 1950's, after the uranium companies have moved on. Black Mesa water is being pumped for Peabody Coal Company's mining operation. The contamination is currently seeping into the Colorado River."

Thank you immensely for taking the time to further investigate and expose this dire situation.

Sincerely, Robert Seals

Mother Nature's Temple
Mother Natures Temple is an earth-based faith, reconnecting people with Nature & the Divinity of Nature.

BKIN/Bringing Kids Into Nature

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Anonymous said...

How can this be ?

SEAGIFT said...

This is one of many abuses and inhumane treatment suffered by native people, who were made promises continually broken. If we could change and make caring for our Mother Earth, our number one priority, we might save us all, and future generations too. What does it take to leave money and greed behind?

John said...

There are two separate events being combined in this news article. The mining of the N Aquifer, and using that water for creating coal slurry is no longer happening in the Peabody lease area because the Black Mesa mine complex is closed down is no longer being sent to the Mohave Power Plant near Laughlin, NV. My impression is that the N Aquifer did get seriously lowered, but Company, Navajo and Federal officials seem to cook the numbers on the Aquifer status. The local strip mining did destroy the local rock strata, and consequently the local springs that used to exist. Impoundment structures and water quality to me have to be monitored to insure that toxins from explosives nor heavy metals start entering the Monkopi Drainage, and the village of Monkopi has an issue with uranium waste unofficially discarded from the Rare Metals uranium mill.

As for Uranium, there was a Uranium processing plant named Church Rock Uranium mill, north of Gallup whose sediment pond impoundment walls were breach on 16 July 1979, and the sludge mixed with radiation started working its way down the Rio Puerco. Now days it is said the radiation has bonded with local clay and its spread downstream has stopped, but still I would not recommend drinking the water out of the Rio Puerco. About 1979 the relocation began with increased intensity, and building the Navajo Relocation area at Sanders, AZ next to the Rio Puerco was not a very good decision.

Past and present there has been a lack of leadership and questionable decisions have been exhibited at Corporate businesses, Navajo Tribal Govt, and Federal Agencies along with all the politicians.

With this article I am just concerned that past events are being co-mingled and muddied.

Censored News, publisher Brenda Norrell said...

Thanks for your comment John. For those who want to read about these issues, there is a great deal of research available on each issue by way of web searches -- enough to fill volumes of books. As for Navajos, and those of us who lived in the area, the main thing muddied -- poisoned and depleted -- is the water. The paid media is among those to blame for failing to be present and expose the contamination and the health risks. Thanks again, Brenda, publisher, Censored News

Anonymous said...

Thank you John for that clarification!

calfotogal said...

There is a source of fresh water that is never mentioned in the mainstream media, or widely understood by geologists. This forgotten resource is called primary water.

Most water conservation agencies today focus on managing atmospheric water in the form of surface runoff and ground water, while negligible consideration is given to primary water. Pressuring up from deep within the earth through rock fissures, primary water is virtually limitless and clean. According to recent research, water within the earth exceeds five times the amount of water in all the world’s oceans.

The practice of accessing primary water has been around for centuries. What early Greek philosophers like Aristotle and the Italian Leonardo Da Vinci believed, and enlightened scientists working at well-known universities today are exploring, is that all water is created in the mantle of the earth and is available in limitless quantities worldwide.

Drilling for primary water looks similar to drilling for ground water. The main difference in accessing primary water is that it requires drilling into a geologic fissure or fault to release the primary water that has risen near the surface.

Locating well sites for primary water requires special training, and I’ve had more than 40 years of experience as a Hydro-geologist: I’ve successfully drilled primary water wells all over California and the world, and most are still in operation today.

Primary water advantages:

• Provides excellent quality, clean, unspoiled water
• Is fresh and not subject to pollution or surface radiation
• Is created under pressure, so that it comes near the surface by itself, incurring less pumping costs
• Never dries up
• Unlike groundwater, is not subject to the effects of drought
• Does not cause subsidence like some groundwater wells
• Refills depleted groundwater supplies from below in some instances
• Is plentiful and replenishable
• Horizontal drilling rigs can benefit fish and wildlife
• Was used to refill dried up lakes such as Lake Elsinore (which went dry in the 1950s)
• Primary water wells can be used to supplement existing water transport systems like the California aqueduct

Some history of Primary Water:

In the 1960’s, the late Dr. Stephen Riess, a geologist and mining engineer, introduced the California government to the concept of primary water. He proposed a water delivery plan which included drilling 8,000 primary water wells along the foothills of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The State government at the time was geared toward managing only atmospheric water, so the Riess proposal was ignored and the California Aqueduct was built instead.

Had Riess’ plan been endorsed, the output of these primary water wells, at an average of 270 gallons per minute, would be producing more than 3,100,000,000 gallons of water per day (8,000 x 270 x 60 x 24), 365 days a year. It would be comforting to have this back-up system in place today.


Lloyd Vivola said...

Thank you for the science update, Calfotogal. But as the Chinese proverb states: the right tool in the hands of the wrong man works the wrong way. Holistically speaking, if I may respectfully ask, what good is a "virtually limitless and clean" source of water in the hands of an industrial, profiteering civilization of equally "limitless" consumer appetites? Where do you plan to dispose of the coal mine slurry and uranium-tainted waste after the powers-that-be get hold of the limitless water and put it to "good use"? Bury it deep in the ground again, I imagine. A truth greater than "reality" - a term which derives from a Sanskrit word that means "possession" as made clear by our phrase "real estate" - is that the desert is not a wasteland. The rez is not a dumping ground. At what cost this primary water scheme? To investors? To life? To future generations?

Finally, I would not assume that Aristotle or Da Vinci would take up the cause of any modern application of their theories or beliefs after we escorted them down to the river and together stuck our noses in it.

Unknown said...

Calfotogal, you are correct about Primary water and its availability. Except it is, if we are speaking of the Arizona region, then you are at the Southernmost end of the Ogallala Aquifer which is being tapped now for farming in the Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa areas. At the current "drought" withdrawal rates.
The Ogallala aquifer is being depleted too quickly and if no more water was withdrawn would take approx 6,000 years to replenish itself to the early 1900's levels. Therefore there needs to be careful oversight on the withdrawal of existing waters.
The Ogallala is the nation's largest and supposedly single pristine water source available to more than 156,000,000 people together with the various rivers which are also drawn from and treated.
The clean-up of the waters being polluted on the various Tribal Reservations can be cleaned up very easily- check out the "" web site- several streams in the eastern Navajo nation have been cleaned up using OSEI II. The cleanup of mining pollution can be done using "MolecuLoc Zeolites" in filter assemblies [will remove heavy metals, solvents, radionuclides, bacteria's and various other contaminants from your waters and meet EPA clean water standards- is approved by the EPA and NRC for such filtration needs] Anyone can reach out to me at for more assistance/information.