Uranium Mining & Milling in Western New Mexico

Uranium Mining & Milling

Regional aquifers, springs and small rivers provide water for this area.

Groundwater and soil in the Churchrock area are threatened and contaminated. More uranium mining is being proposed in the Grants uranium-mining belt. Some of the corporations proposing new uranium mines include United Nuclear Corporation (UNC) and Hydro Resources, Inc. (HRI).

About 40 percent of the uranium mined in the U.S. has been from New Mexico. From 1952 to 1990, the Homestake Mill produced 21 million tons of uranium mill tailings pile. Years after the mill’s closure,  contaminants continue to affect aquifers. Airborne releases continue to affect the people’s health. A new contamination plume from Homestake’s Anaconda/ARCO uranium mill tailings pile is seeping and could threaten the municipal water supply of Milan, New Mexico.

On July 16, 1979, the Churchrock Mill dam of uranium milling wastes collapsed, spilling 100 million gallons of radioactive liquid and 1,100 tons of solid waste into the Puerco River. Historic releases continue to affect ground water supplies. A few weeks later, hazardous levels of radioactivity and heavy-metal contamination were detected in the groundwater 40 feet below the surface. More radiation was released in that spill than in the Three Mile Island reactor accident, and the spill ranks close behind the Chernobyl and Fukushima reactor meltdowns and resulting long-term disasters. The nearby Northeast Churchrock Mine continues to release contaminants that threaten people’s air, water, and soil.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting investigations to determine the extent of residual risk from uranium mining legacy activities at the Jackpile Mine. An update will be posted at EPA’s Grants Mining District web page soon. The EPA Contact is Lisa Marie Price, Grants Mining District Coordinator, EPA Region 6. Her phone number is 214-665-6744 and her email is price.lisa@epa.gov.

NGOs Working to Protect Against Uranium Mining & Milling
Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance – http://bvdownstreamalliance.org/
Dineh Bidziil Coalition
Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM)
Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment
Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) – http://masecoalition.org/
New Mexico Environmental Law Center – http://www.nmenvirolaw.org/
Partnership for Earth Spirituality – http://www.earthspirituality.org/
Post-71 Uranium Workers Committee – http://www.post71exposure.org/about.html
Southwest Research and Information Center – http://www.sric.org
Western Mining Action Network – http://wman-info.org


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