Monday, April 2, 2012

Toxic Legacy: Uranium Mines on the Navajo Nation


The New York Times "Uranium Mines Dot Navajo Land, Neglected and Still Perilous" By LESLIE MACMILLAN Published: March 31, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/us/uranium-mines-dot-navajo-land-neglected-and-still-perilous.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120401

[excerpt] For years, unsuspecting Navajos inhaled radioactive dust and drank contaminated well water. Many of them became sick with cancer and other diseases.

The radioactivity at the former mine is said to measure one million counts per minute, translating to a human dose that scientists say can lead directly to malignant tumors and other serious health damage, according to Lee Greer, a biologist at La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif. Two days of exposure at the Cameron site would expose a person to more external radiation than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers safe for an entire year.

The E.P.A. filed a report on the rancher’s find early last year and pledged to continue its environmental review. But there are still no warning signs or fencing around the secluded and decaying site. Crushed beer cans and spent shell casings dot the ground, revealing that the old mine has become a sort of toxic playground....

“If this level of radioactivity were found in a middle-class suburb, the response would be immediate and aggressive,” said Doug Brugge, a public health professor at Tufts University medical school and an expert on uranium. ...

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