Saturday event focuses on dangers of uranium
FLAGSTAFF - The public can learn about some of the issues surrounding northern Arizona uranium mining during an evening of films and discussion in Flagstaff Saturday.
The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and the Graduate Association of Political Science present the evening of learning and discussion on the destructive impacts of uranium mining from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at NAU's Cline Library Hall.
The event is free but donations for the Havasupai post-flood rebuilding efforts will be gratefully accepted.
The films Poison Wind and River That Harms and will be shown.
These films examine the devastating impact uranium mining has had on indigenous people and the environment in the four corners region of New Mexico and Northern Arizona. The films will be followed by a panel discussion with community members affected by uranium mining, including representatives from the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE); the Havasupai, Hopi and the Navajo nations; as well as the films' producers.
"The Grand Canyon is one of the world's greatest natural wonders and it deserves protection for generations to come. Nearby communities have suffered disease and death from past uranium mine pollution," said Stacey Hamburg, conservation coordinator for the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon campaign. "The surrounding five tribes have said no to more mining but their waters, health and sacred sites are at risk from mining on adjacent lands."
More than 1,000 abandoned mines and four processing mill sites are scattered across Navajo lands in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
"Native Americans across the Southwest are still dealing with the ramifications of uranium mining of the past while industry pushes for new uranium mining in the region," said Robert Tohe, environmental justice organizer for the Sierra Club. "A return to a new round of mining under the guise that nuclear energy is safe and carbon free is a dangerous move."
Uranium mining waste has also contaminated the drinking water in at least two Hopi villages. Deep in the Grand Canyon, the Havasupai Tribe has fought for years to stop uranium mining that threatens their home, religious sites, and their water, including world famous Havasu Creek.
"This program offers a sobering glimpse into the environmental injustices shouldered by the four corners region at the hand of the uranium industry and our own federal government," said Taylor McKinnon, public lands program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. "This is the history giving rise to staunch multi-cultural resistance to uranium development active throughout the Southwest and North America.
The Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter and the Center for Biological Diversity are working with other conservation groups as well as tribal, local, state and federal agencies to ensure that the Grand Canyon, its watershed, and the health of area residents is protected from the harmful impacts of uranium mining.