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40 years ago today - Church Rock Uranium Mine Spill - and what we can do today

40 years ago today the uranium mill tailings disposal pond breached its dam and 1,100 tons of solid radioactive mill waste and approximately 93 million gallons of acidic, radioactive tailings solution flowed into Pipeline Arroyo, a tributary of the Puerco River. To this day, radioactive waste continues to endanger the community's health and contaminate this sacred place.

Larry King, July 14, 2019 - Red Pond Community Gathering

Below is an excerpt from Larry King's testimony (Church Rock community leader and anti-nuclear activist, pictured below on the right) submitted to the Public Regulatory Commission as part of our Joint Petition against further Nuclear Investment.

"Several days after the spill, the Indian Health Service and the Environmental Improvement Division of New Mexico warned local residents over the radio and with signs written in English and Diné to not drink from, water livestock at, or enter the Puerco River. Many Navajo people in the area speak only Diné, spoken by 150,000 people in the Navajo Nation. The governmental communication was inadequate and hurt the people because the warnings were not authoritative, did not come fast enough and did not reach enough people, because community members and livestock owners continued to wade and cross the contaminated wash. Warning signs posted in Diné served no purpose, as the traditionally spoken language is not a written language, but meant to be pass down generation to generation orally. The UNC spill left a wake of radioactive waste and heavy metals in the Puerco River’s bed and banks which flowed through the City of Gallup NM.... To my knowledge, there has never been any remediation performed to address the contamination. The company's method of cleanup was to hire laborers and provided them with shovels and five-gallon plastic buckets to scoop up the sludge and fill buckets, which were then dumped into fifty-gallon metal drums and eventually disposed of elsewhere. Federal and State agencies have refused to conduct any type of comprehensive health studies to assess the damage even to this day!
Read Larry's full Expert Testimony.

The fact that the corporation responsible for this disaster, the United Nuclear Corporation, was never held accountable and was allowed to close-up shop, profits in hand, having never properly cleaned up the contamination or compensated the impacted community, is environmental racism and injustice in the extreme. We must learn from this tragic example and fight against the sacrifice of human life and environmental health at the hands of uranium extraction. We must also make sure to hold corporations accountable for the harm they create.

This past weekend we attended the 40 year commemoration of the event along with members of the impacted community and allies from as far away as Japan.  Today and every day, we stand in solidarity with the indigenous resistance that has been calling for an end to the destructive and omnipotent practice of uranium extraction on indigenous lands here, in Canada, in China, in Australia, and throughout the world. There is no reason to invest in nuclear energy production given its legacy and the continuous health and environmental risks of mining, nuclear meltdown, and nuclear waste. 

Tomorrow we deliver our oral arguments calling on the PRC to hold PNM accountable for their irresponsible investments in Palo Verde nuclear on behalf of New Mexican ratepayers. As you know, the Supreme Court recently ruled in our favor - upholding the finding that PNM's failure to perform any economic analysis and compare their nuclear purchase against the alternatives in 2015, was imprudent.

We'll argue that given PNM's decision to invest without first conducting a sound evaluation and comparative analysis, the company, NOT New Mexican ratepayers, should bear the associated costs. When we start holding corporations accountable for their poor decision-making and shareholders start feeling the heat and burden of costly and risky investments like PNM's ongoing investments in Palo Verde, we will see shifts in corporate behavior and divestment from dirty energy. 

We'll argue that unless PNM can prove that nuclear is the most cost effective among feasible alternatives (an impossible proposition given the low cost of wind and solar), Palo Verde nuclear should be kept OUT of New Mexico's electricity portfolio and New Mexican ratepayers should be held harmless. 

Translation "No Uranium"

Join Us! Wednesday, July 17 Where: 1120 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe When: July 17, 2019 at 1:00PM

We hope to see you there! If you can't make it you can contact your District PRC commissioner by phone, stop by, or send them an email today and:


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