Saturday, April 19, 2008
Mount Taylor, an 11,300 foot high peak in New Mexico is considered a sacred cultural site to the the Navajo, Hopi, Laguna, Acoma and Zuni peoples. A mining permit is being sought to reopen a uranium mining operation. "The uranium mining permitting process is never in the best interest of the pueblos and tribes, especially within the proposed traditional cultural properties area. All we are asking is to have a fair process to determine the traditional cultural properties on Mount Taylor" (Zuni Pueblo Councilman Arden Kuncate).
Members of the the Zuni have lived for decades with the threat of radiation poisoning from more than 1,000 mining sites abandoned after the Cold War. According to the L.A. Times, close to 4 million tons of uranium ore were mined between 1944 and 1986, mostly taken from Navajo soil, for use in atomic weapons. The Navajo people inhaled radioactive dust from the mining operations, drank contaminated water, as did their livestock, and built homes from the rock piles left by the uranium mines and mills. The nuclear power industry is actively applying for new permits to resume mining and milling in this area of New Mexico. Report and photographs Copyright Eve Andrée Laramée
The Ambrosia Lake Uranium Mine and Milling facility is located on or adjacent to Navajo Land. The large flat grey mound you see in the distance is the uranium mill tailings pile.
The flat area you see beyond the sign is one of the uranium mining tailings evaporation ponds.
The large flat grey mound in the top photograph is a demolished uranium mill and radioactive tailings covered with crushed rock. In 1992, the Ambrosia Lake Uranium mill was buried by the Department of Energy. The mill was built in 1957 during the first "Uranium Boom" and was operated by the Phillips Petroleum Company, later it was bought by the United Nuclear Company which operated it until the early 1980's. This site is 196 acres and is one of 24 uranium mill tailings sites in the US that are being remediated as part of the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project (UMTRA).
Link to Ambrosia Lake Uranium Tailings Pile on Center For Land Use Interpretation database:
Link to article, "As Uranium Mining Firms Eye New Mexico, Navajos are Wary"
Link to SWIC's Uranium Impact Assessment Program about the newly proposed "solution mining" that threatens the drinking water of 10,000-15,000 Navajo (Diné) people: