Comments: This sounds like every mining company in the world, this local/Canadian mining told us, and “Yes regulations will protect us from the harms of mining"! Sort of like BP protecting the Gulf of Mexico after the spill. But the so call three leaders went against the Navajo people to Keep the Ban because they believe in the following mistruth; "f we don't regulate this and totally lose, then were left out and there will be uranium mining without limitation," he said." They can stop it; you cannot clean up the streams after uranium has ruined it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Keep the Ban in VA!
STEALTH BILL UNDERMINES NAVAJO URANIUM BAN BY ALLOWING ISL ‘DEMONSTRATION’ IN CHURCHROCK SCHEDULED FOR VOTE MONDAY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Dec. 23, 2013
Contact: Leona Morgan
Sierra Club Front End Working Group
STEALTH BILL UNDERMINES NAVAJO URANIUM BAN BY ALLOWING ISL ‘DEMONSTRATION’ IN CHURCHROCK SCHEDULED FOR VOTE MONDAY
Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie proposes legislation to allow in situ leach uranium mining
Chilchinbeto, Ariz. — Proposed legislation in front of a Navajo Nation Council committee on Monday would allow the operation of a controversial uranium mining project in Churchrock, despite the Nation’s 2005 ban on uranium mining and significant public opposition.
The proposed bill, sponsored by Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie (Whitehorse Lake) and Delegate Chairperson Katherine Benally (Kayenta), would allow Uranium Resources, Inc., (URI) to construct a “demonstration project” that would extract uranium ore by using in-situ leach mining techniques, known as ISL mining.
The legislation, if approved, at a specially scheduled meeting on Dec. 23, would create a right-of-way to access URI’s proposed mine site, located on 160 acres of privately owned land, called Section 8, which is surrounded by BLM and tribal trust land and Section 17 tribal trust land, near Churchrock and Pinedale. As a condition of mining uranium there, URI must transport the uranium out of the Navajo Nation for processing, which would entail trucking radioactive materials through multiple communities and across tribal trust lands.
“This legislation is being pushed through on short notice and is essentially a back-door method to open up the Navajo Nation to uranium mining and attack the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act,” said Leona Morgan, a community organizer with the Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Front End Working Group.
“For years, URI has been trying to build its ISL mine and find a way to defy the will of the people. Any major decisions that come out of our central tribal government should always have prior and informed consent from all impacted people and communities,” said Jonathan Perry, Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining President. “Everyone should have an equal opportunity to speak on this issue. Haven’t we suffered enough? We must always remember that future generations will have to live with what we do today. I urge our elected officials to consider that when it comes time to state their positions on this proposed legislation.”
The Navajo Nation Resources and Development Committee is scheduled to vote on Legislation 0373-13 at a special meeting 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 23, at the Chapter House in Chilchinbetoh, Ariz., following a five-day public comment period, which ended on Saturday, Dec. 21. The legislation is then reviewed and will require final approval from the president.
“This is an action from a few elected officials that violates existing Navajo Nation policy and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Morgan said. “It is unacceptable. We are urging community members to speak out against it and take action. Łéétsoh (uranium) is a poison and mining it is an improper and dangerous use of our water and natural resources.”
Morgan will speak at a joint press conference with Diné CARE scheduled for 12 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 23, in front of the Navajo Nation Council Chambers in Window Rock.
ISL mining is done by injecting a sodium bicarbonate solution deep below the surface into an aquifer that bears uranium. The resulting mixture is pumped to the surface and extracted. Waste water from the operation is then injected back underground. URI plans to haul the radioactive mixture to a processing plant in Texas to produce concentrated uranium known as yellowcake.
URI, formerly known as Hydro Resources, Inc., has contaminated ground water at its ISL uranium mines in Texas. The proposed mine near Churchrock would involve the development of dozens of extraction and injection wells. On the surface of the mine, an industrial plant would be built in the southeast corner of Section 8 to process and package the uranium-laden slurry.
Until now, construction of the mine has been blocked not only by the the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act, which prohibits all uranium mining, but by the lack of a formal access agreement to URI’s private property inholding. A pre-existing agreement requires URI to clean up any prior uranium contamination on Sections 8 and 17 prior to starting new mining operations.
Community members have also fiercely opposed the mine’s development and the impacts to public health and the environment for more than 20 years.
Don Yellowman, president of the Forgotten People, issued a proclamation against proposed Bill 0373-13.
“This bill will continue to perpetuate the same destruction and devastation on our Dine families and communities. This bill is another genocidal act that continues to perpetuate evil across our motherlands,” said Yellowman. “I pray to our ancestors and all holy beings that our council delegates and other leaders (decision makers) turn away from evil acts and say no more to dirty business, politics and energy. And I challenge you to go beyond and say no to this legislation and any other legislation that further destroys our land, water and air.”
For more information:
Don Yellowman’s proclamation:
NNC Legislation 0373-13:
Special RDC Meeting Agenda:
Diné Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005:
Radioactive Materials Transportation Act of 2012:
NN Energy Policy of 2013:
RDC gives green light to in-situ uranium demonstration
By Alastair Lee BitsoíCHILCHINBETO, Ariz., Dec. 26, 2013
In the crowded chapter house of Chilchinbeto Tuesday, Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie used enough persuasion to get his peers from the Resources and Development Committee to pass a legislation that grants Uranium Resources Inc., access to its private properties to conduct an in-situ uranium recovery demonstration project in Church Rock, N.M.
Even as David Taylor, a Navajo Nation Department of Justice attorney, told the committee, Tsosie's legislation conflicts with a tribal ban against any uranium development and a subsequent law that prevents the transport of the mineral across the reservation, and in spite of pleas from grassroots people not to approve the bill, Tsosie's peers listened to the outspoken Councilman.
"This is not a resolution to directly autShorize uranium mining," Tsosie (Baca-Prewitt/Casamero Lake/Counselor/Littlewater/Ojo Encino/ Pueblo Pintado/Torreon/Whitehorse Lake) said in his opening remarks to the RDC.
In front of a packed house of environmental activists from the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining and the Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Front End Working Group, who drove up to two-and-a-half hours from their uranium-impacted communities to be here, and URI CEO Christopher Jones, the RDC passed the resolution 3-0.
As the main sponsor, Tsosie explained that the committee's action on the legislation would benefit the tribe by allowing it to regulate the in-situ uranium recovery project, estimated to supply the community with about 50 full-time jobs and 25 contract positions at full-scale operation. denying URI as the successor of the Santa Fe Pacific Railroad Company's rights-of-way to surface deeds on Section 17 and Section 8, the next possible step the company could take is filing a suit against the tribe, with the decision most likely weakening Navajo sovereignty and favoring the uranium company, Tsosie said.
"If we don't regulate this and totally lose, then were left out and there will be uranium mining without limitation," he said.
In response to Tsosie, Taylor requested time from the committee to explain NNDOJ's interpretation of the proposed legislation's impact on current tribal laws -- the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005, a moratorium that bans uranium and any development on the reservation; a 2012 temporary access agreement between the tribe and URI; and the Radioactive and Related Substances Equipment, Vehicles, Persons and Materials Transportation Act of 2012, which prevents the transport of the ore across the reservation.
"It is the position of NDOJ to oppose this legislation," Taylor said, adding that the authors of the uranium laws currently in place also oppose the legislation.
Taylor added that the tribe's temporary access agreement spells out how URI agreed to first clean up the Section 17 site, before conducting any type of uranium development on this property and on the Section 8 sites. Section 17 and 8 are tribal and private lands, respectively, located within the boundaries of Church Rock.
"If you pass this law, it's our position that you're potentially wiping out, nullifying that agreement," Taylor said, referring to the temporary access agreement already in place. "They don't have access to Section 8, until they clean up Section 17."
Other points Taylor spoke about were how URI is planning to change its cleanup standards by adopting less stringent ones used by the Department of Energy rather than those specified by the Environmental Protection Agency, essentially breaching its agreement with the tribe. The agreement states that URI, which includes its subsidiary Hydro Resources Inc., agrees to "complete any remediation of any radioactive contamination now existing on Section 17 or Section 8 prior to commencing its planned in-situ leach uranium operations on Section 8."
According to the agreement, URI had agreed to remediate Section 17, a legacy mine site, in accordance with the Navajo Nation Comprehensive Response Compensation and Liability Act. The tribal act uses the same standards applied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and not the DOE ones URI is lobbying to adopt in place of them, Taylor said.
Adding onto his thoughts was Stephen Etcitty, executive director for the Navajo Nation EPA, who also stated that the legislation undermines current uranium laws. Etcitty highlighted how his agency is currently using those enacted laws to address legacy waste sites and told RDC members of the tribe's latest victory in a bankruptcy court against Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Kerr-McGee that could award the tribe at least $1 billion for cleanup of past uranium mining and milling sites.
After listening to Taylor, Tsosie said it was the first time he'd ever seen the DOJ "unilaterally oppose" a legislation.
"This is a policy decision," Tsosie said. "They can't independently take a position."
Tsosie added that the legislation doesn't do away with the temporary access agreement, noting that the subcommittee charged with drafting an agreement with URI would advocate for cleanup of the Section 17 property and negotiate with URI. The subcommittee is comprised of Tsosie and delegate Leonard Pete (Chinle). Tsosie and Pete will also work with DOJ, and Division of Natural Resources Executive Director Fred White.
Tsosie also said the processing of any uranium, according the legislation, would occur off reservation lands. And from what he's witnessed on his tour of URI operations in Wyoming, the uranium from ISR mining would be safely transported off the reservation to Texas.
During public testimony, Rita Capitan, a member of ENDAUM, and Larry King, who said he lives a stone's throw away from where the project would occur on Section 8, wondered what would happen to the Uranium Taskforce that is currently in the process of being created. The duo also didn't forget to voice their opposition to the project. They advocated for the RDC to table the bill to allow them, the committee, and URI to discuss any uranium development matters on the table.
Capitan claimed that URI had a poor financial portfolio and didn't understand how it would finance its project. She also said that, contrary to Tsosie's claim that the local groundwater is already contaminated from past uranium mining and milling, there is clean, safe water to protect from URI's project. Tsosie had stated that groundwater is contaminated and that residents from this region of the reservation would get drinking water from the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project through the San Juan River Basin Water Rights Settlement.
"My legislation doesn't poison Navajo water," Tsosie said.
In her testimony, Capitan also referenced how citizens in South Texas are currently suffering from groundwater contamination from a similar ISR project.
... To read more, pick up a Navajo Times: http://navajotimes.com/news/2013/1213/122613rdc.php#.UryOIqso42w
Tribe welcomes settlement, mulls future uranium mining
By Alastair Lee Bitsóí
WINDOW ROCK, Dec. 19, 2013
As the Navajo Nation celebrates the news of at least $1 billion from a lawsuit settlement that will help clean up past uranium mining and milling sites in Cove, Ariz., and Shiprock, the Resources and Development Committee is considering a piece of legislation that could grant a uranium company rights-of-way to conduct its in-situ uranium recovery demonstration project.
Last week, according to a Dec. 16 press release issued by President Ben Shelly's office, the tribe prevailed in its claim against Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Kerr-McGee Corporation. On Dec. 12, Judge Allan L. Gropper of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, found the defendants - Anardarko and Kerr-McGee - liable for damages to the plaintiffs for hindering and delaying certain creditors, including the Navajo Nation. Gropper found that when Kerr-McGee "transferred out and then spun off" oil and gas assets, it left spinoff companies "insolvent and undercapitalized."
"Any funds resulting from this lawsuit are welcomed and long overdue," Shelly said, adding, "The Shelly-Jim Administration has made mine cleanup a priority."
Gropper set the damages between $5.1 and $14.1 billion, which is still in the process of being determined after a briefing among the different parties in the suit.
The tribe was one of a number of plaintiffs in the case that includes the U.S. government, 22 states, four environmental response trusts and a trust for the benefit of certain tort plaintiffs.
According to Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie, who announced on Dec. 13 that the tribe had prevailed in the suit, the distribution formula of the money is complicated.
"While we recognize the uncertainties of the appeal process and the long road that may be ahead of us, this is still a day of celebration for the Navajo Nation," Tsosie said.
... To read more, pick up a Navajo Times: http://navajotimes.com/politics/2013/1213/121913uranium.php#.UryO3aso42w