Join the Red Water Pond Road community’s demand for the highest standard and quality of cleanup of for the Northeast Churchrock Uranium Mine!
Members of the Diné community Red Water Pond Road are opposing current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans for “cleanup” of a decades old uranium mine that has polluted their lands and lives with radioactive contamination. The EPA is proposing to move a portion of the deadly waste from the Northeast Churchrock Uranium Mine less than a mile from its current location and moving the rest to an undetermined location. The Red Water Pond Road Community Association and the Navajo Nation has declared the plan “insufficient” and “unacceptable.” Diné want the waste out, not buried and covered up or hauled and dumped for other Indigenous communities to deal with.
The world’s largest uranium spill occurred in 1979 just 10 miles north of Churchrock, New Mexico. This massive nuclear accident severely impacted the the Red Water Pond Road where uranium was mined and milled, and all downstream communities. Two companies operated in the area: Kerr McGee and United Nuclear Corporation, now Quivira (Kerr McGee) and General Electric (UNC). After decades of advocacy from community members and environmental groups, both companies faced a multibillion dollar lawsuit and agreed to a settlement for cleanup of their toxic legacies. As a result of a legal settlement in efforts to cleanup abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) on Navajo Nation, General Electric (GE) is required to cleanup the Northeast Church Rock mine.
The EPA’s “cleanup” plan includes moving one million cubic yards of mine waste on top of UNC’S mill waste less than a mile away and moving the “Potential Threat Waste” (which is more radioactive) to an undetermined licensed facility. White Mesa uranium Mill (almost 200 miles away) has been identified as the preferred location, near the Ute Mountain Ute community and their sacred lands, furthering ecological dangers from radioactive materials processing, transport, and waste.
The Red Water Pond Road community has been insistent that the radioactive waste be moved out of the area, that the proposed location is not suitable as it is in a floodplain and may lead to a second Churchrock uranium spill. There is also concern for dumping waste on another Indigenous community. The local community understands that opposing this plan may delay cleanup, and is willing to wait to for a better cleanup plan that will ensure safety for their community and not create more risk of harm to future generations.
Stand with Indigenous Communities to Demand Better Cleanup by sending public comments OPPOSING proposed cleanup of UNC uranium mine near Churchrock, New Mexico by May 27th.
TAKE ACTION BY SENDING COMMENTS
Talking points from Diné-led Haul No! Initiative:
1. Tell NRC to deny GE’s request for a license amendment to UNC/GE SUA-1475
2. Tell NRC the plan is insufficient, as it does not include the documented requests of the Red Water Pond Road community to move the waste out of the area.
3. Tell NRC to work with Navajo Nation EPA Superfund to create a new alternative to move uranium waste OUT entirely, as safely as possible, and not to other already overburdened communities.
4. Tell NRC that clean up must be done to the highest standards including ongoing monitoring of groundwater, air, and soil.
5. Tell NRC that clean up needs to be immediate! The U.S. must not delay cleanup or base quality of cleanup on available funds.
In addition to telling NRC this plan is unacceptable, Join Haul No! to Demand that the United States be named as the responsible party for all abandoned uranium mine (AUM) sites (DOE or DOD sites) and must fully fund cleanup of all sites nationwide to the highest standard possible with community oversight. The U.S. created this uranium-rush while there were no laws in place requiring cleanup. Our communities need cleanup and the federal government knows that it is the responsible party.
You can cc: written comments for NRC to your locally and nationally elected officials, as well as U.S. EPA Region 9, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior, Department of Energy, Navajo Area Indian Health Service, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
HOW TO SUBMIT COMMENTS (from NRC website):
You may submit comments by any one of the following methods by May 27, 2021:
Email comments to: UNC-ChurchRockEIS@nrc.gov
Leave a voicemail at this toll-free number: 888-672-3425
Please include “Docket ID NRC-2019-0026” and in the subject line of your comments, and specify the report number “NUREG-2243” in your comments.
Comments submitted in writing or in electronic form will be posted on the NRC website and on the Federal rulemaking website.
NRC webpage on: How submit comments; Meeting Transcripts; and audio recordings of Background and Environmental Impact Statement, Safety Evaluation Report, and Questions and Answers
For information on Navajo Nation Abandoned Uranium Mines Cleanup:
For Updates from Diné-led Haul No! Initiative, visit:
- From 1947 to 2002, nearly 350 million pounds of uranium was extracted from over 1500 mines in New Mexico, which is 37.5% of the total nationwide.
- United Nuclear Corporation (UNC) operated both a uranium mine and mill along NM highway 566 about 11 miles north of Churchrock, New Mexico adjacent to the Red Water Pond Road Diné community.
- UNC mined uranium from the Northeast Churchrock Mine between 1967 and 1982, and was the second highest producing mine on Navajo. They processed the uranium at their mill, which operated from 1977 to 1982. Both the mine and mill are located on the west side of NM 566, with the mill waste stored across the highway, east of NM 566, and is the site of origin of the 1979 Churchrock uranium spill.
- In September 2018, the current owner of the UNC sites, GE applied for a license amendment to their mill license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to allow storage of mine waste.
- This application is currently going through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is open for public comments until Thursday, May 27, 2021.
- A decision on this proposal is expected in January 2022.
Share our social media slides as well: