Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A nasty record of devastation: Don’t let Strathmore Minerals mine uranium in N.M.

Comments:  We are hearing the same from VUI which is not true, :"Strathmore says communities like ours can only be cleaned if new mining goes forward. The legacy from past uranium mining is not connected to new mining."  Yeah, Yea, just more lies, Keep the Ban in VA, good NM, no more uranium mining anywhere, not needed, not wanted!

By Candace Head-Dylla In a June 22 op-ed column published in the Journal, John DeJoia of Strathmore Minerals refers to a front-page headline about the nation’s largest uranium mine planned for New Mexico.

I would refer readers to another front-page story in the Journal that exposes death and illnesses in my community, which is suffering from radon levels 18 times higher than the EPA considers an acceptable cancer risk for radionuclides in ambient air.

The uranium industry has watched for more than 30 years while our community suffered the effects from Homestake-Barrick Gold’s uranium mill tailings operation in a failed remediation conducted with the full approval of the New Mexico Environment Department and federal regulators, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Our elected officials were also fully aware of what was happening to our community as members wrote numerous letters to former U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman, Pete Domenici and others to try to get help.   New Mexico’s current senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, were updated this spring. We will see how they respond.   Yes, Grants and Milan need jobs; but a uranium mine only lasts about 20 years. We need jobs that take us into a new and cleaner future. There is no new technology that can protect workers from radon.   If New Mexico’s Environment Department can be convinced to weaken regulations, then maybe the company can get in cheaply and profitably.   Whether Strathmore just sells stocks or exploits weakened regulations, it wins.   Strathmore Minerals might indeed be “pursuing the required federal and state permits to operate Roca Honda in the safest and most environmentally protective manner possible,” but that does not mean the operation will be safe or protective. Our community’s experiences are proof of this. In addition, past operations in the area have used enough water to supply all of the city of Albuquerque’s water needs at current usage for over seven years.   Strathmore says communities like ours can only be cleaned if new mining goes forward. The legacy from past uranium mining is not connected to new mining.   I belong to the Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance, a core member of the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, which has sent the forest service comments about the multiple ways the Roca Honda/Strathmore project will negatively impact traditional cultural practices as well as psycho-social impacts new mining could have on people who continue to resist and work for solutions to the contamination from past mining.   The company says its footprint would be small. Our experience is testament to the fact it does not take many acres to cause tremendous problems.   Water pumped from the mine is proposed for use irrigating the land of a ranching family in the area that has already reaped huge profits off its coal mining leases.  So, water that might be needed by future generations will be used by this wealthy family, with no thought to New Mexico’s possibly bleak water future.   If Strathmore Minerals returns to this state, it will be because New Mexico’s residents chose to sell our children’s and grandchildren’s water along with the health of workers and our fragile environment to an industry with a seriously nasty record of devastation.