This Week’s Featured Interviews:
Trinity Downwinders advocating for justice:
- Trinity Downwinder Tina Cordova grew up in her family home in the Tularosa Basin, 40 miles from the explosion of the first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945. A cancer survivor like so many in her community, in 2005, she co-founded the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium. She and her community have been working for compensation for New Mexico atomic downwinders for the past 15 years.
- Video produced by the long term victims of the Trinity atomic bomb blast, Tularosa Basin Consortion Downwinders:
Church Rock Uranium Tailings Pond Spill Disaster
It’s been 42 years since the July 16, 1979 uranium tailings pond spill/disaster that contaminated Navajo Nation land, adding to the radiation burden already there from abandoned uranium mines. Two brief interviews from Nuclear Hotseat #423 from July 23, 2019, where Nuclear Hotseat producer/host Libbe HaLevy covered the 40th anniversary events.
- Edith Hood grew up in the Red Water Pond Road Community, on land which had her living between two uranium mines and just down the road from the 1979 tailings pond spill. Edith worked at a different mine than the UNC facility that had the accident, but faced all of the same dangers.
- Terracita Keyanna has lived her entire life in the Red Water Pond Road Community on Navajo Nation. She was not even born when the Church Rock uranium spill happened… but that did not stop her being exposed to uranium mining waste from what was released and deposited by the spill.
Links Referenced in This Week’s Show:
- Nuclear Hotseat #423: Church Rock Uranium Tailings Pond Disaster – full show.
- Piketon, Ohio Radiation Spikes from Demolition of Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant
- FirstEnergy to pay $230M in agreement in Ohio bribery case
- Nuclear Power’s reliability is dropping as extreme weather increases.
Nuclear lies when Trinity, the first test of an atomic weapon took place on July 16th, 1945, there was no warning given to the surrounding population, no acknowledgement that there even was the surrounding population. The area was considered uninhabited, but there were people living not only on the land surrounding the test site, but in towns within a 150 mile radius, all of which were hit by radiation released by this equivalent of a massive, dirty bomb. The government is still denying that anything bad happened to those who were exposed or their children and grandchildren, and that the radiation release meant nothing. But then you hear a Trinity downwind or tell you that other than the bombs that exploded at Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Extrapolated, knowing what we now know about the type of blast that it was at Trinity and everything else, and said that the people in New Mexico were exposed to somewhere between 10 and a hundred times more radiation than anyone ever has been from any other nuclear incident in the world, including Chernobyl Fukushima, Nevada test site, et cetera.
Well, we know that that kind of radiation exposure can and did create all kinds of health problems for the people of New Mexico and beyond. And when you learned what happened there in the aftermath, you will realize beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are all stuck. And when you hear more about what happened in the aftermath of that atomic bomb explosion, you will realize that you and I and everyone are stuck in that awful seat that we all share
To clear hot seat. What are those people thinking? Nuclear hot seat. What have those boys been breaking news clear, hot, save the car, Ms. Sinking out time to act as shrinking, but linking nuclear. Hotsy
Welcome to nuclear hot seat. The weekly international news magazine, keeping you up to date on all things, nuclear from a different perspective. My name is Libby Halevi. I am the producer and host as well as a survivor of the nuclear accident at three mile island from just one mile away. So I know what can happen when those nuclear so-called experts get it wrong. This week, we look to New Mexico, the site of two major nuclear events, which happened on the same day, but 34 years apart on July 16th, 1945, the Trinity test, the first explosion of an atomic bomb took place. It left a legacy of radioactivity released into the environment that continues to damage the health of downwinders to this day, we’ll hear from Tina Cordova of the Tularosa basin. Downwinders on what that experience was, what it has meant to the people who lived through it, including her family and their offspring and what still needs to be done.
And we’ll also hear from two members of Navajo nation who were directly impacted by both the July 16th, 1979 church rock uranium, tailings spill disaster, and the legacy of unremediated uranium mines, literally in their own backyards. We will also have nuclear news from around the world, numb nuts of the week for outstanding nuclear bone headedness, and more honest nuclear information. Then the sexist, racist, prejudicial Fukushima denying white men of the international Olympic committee will ever let you know, all of it coming up in just a few moments today is Tuesday, July 27th, 2021. And here is this week’s nuclear news from a different perspective in Piketon Ohio, the Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant, which was once a company that fueled America’s atomic race is being dismantled and exposing 31 years of radioactive dust, which is, which has been building up in the rafters, which are now exposed to the elements.
According to one veteran worker, it’s been quote blowing to the four winds. Now, Dr. Michael Ketterer, professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry at Northern Arizona university has been studying the data on the releases from the department of energy’s air monitors and uncovered that the amount of technetium 99, a radioactive material was hundreds of times higher than detection limits. And it was happening on all monitors, no matter how far they were from the plant or in what direction we will link to a video report on this, on our website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode, number 5 27 in Ohio first energy corporation, the energy giant at the center of a $60 million bribery scheme in Ohio admitted to using dark money groups, to fund their efforts and agreed to pay a $230 million fine to avoid criminal charges being brought against them. The case led to the arrests one year ago of then house speaker, Larry householder, and four associates, government officials say householder orchestrated a plan to accept corporate money for personal and political use in exchange for passing nuclear bailout legislation and scuttling the effort to repeal the bill.
A coalition of energy and environmental groups is warning that the nuclear regulatory commission may complete a quote unquote safety analysis and final environmental impact statement by the end of July for an application to store deadly nuclear reactor waste in Texas, despite strong local state and national opposition, the NRC could license the facility possibly within the following 30 days, this Texas high level radioactive waste quote unquote interim storage would hold nearly half the nation’s commercial irradiated nuclear fuel, and would be at high risk from train truck or barge shipments that would pass through most states, carrying the waste, potentially leading to what some have called a mobile Chernobyl. We’re going to have a link up on the article. Nuclear powers. Reliability is dropping as extreme weather increases and also information from the nuclear energy information service or any I S in Chicago as to how droughts floods and other weather extremes will impact the ability of nuclear reactors to remain cool.
A spokesperson for French atomic giant EDF said on Thursday, July 22nd, that the Tyson shin nuclear power plant, which has an EDF reactor in it was a quote serious situation that is evolving. If the reactor was in France, the company would have shut it down already because there has been detected and increase in noble gas in the reactor. These are radioactive gases and would further degrade the fuel rods. This is an ongoing situation, links to this and other stories up on our website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode, number 5 27. And now for this week’s venture into nuclear bone headedness,
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics marked down from the current year 2021 because Hey, they already printed the merchant last year is going off with narrow use of the F-word Fukushima. However, mother nature is doing her best to warn athletes away from the most dangerous venues at Azuma baseball stadium in Fukushima, less than 20 miles from the site of the nuclear triple meltdown, only hours before the first women’s softball game was set to start. A black bear was spotted by guards. It was seen both the night before and the morning of the Japan versus Australia softball match the bear, which has been nicknamed radiation for her ability to be dangerous yet invisible. Most of the time was on a mission of mercy to warn the women away from the danger. Softball is a woman’s sport. And perhaps the bear was aware of the fact that women are twice as vulnerable to the same radiation exposure as men.
Thank you, gender and radiation, project.org radiation. The bears visibility at Azuma stadium was preceded last month by an incident in Sapporo, which will host the Olympic marathon running and racewalking events that was when a brown bear injured four people and was shot and killed. Was it also trying to warn athletes away from radioactive areas? No definitive word yet. And the suspect in the case at Azuma stadium has not yet been apprehended. Nuclear hot seat is following the story of radiation in Fukushima for the Olympics. And for upcoming details, you will have to bear with us and that’s why Tokyo 20, 21 or 2020, or whatever year you decide upon Olympics, whatever you’re calling yourself, you are this week’s
Okay. This week’s featured interviews, focus on both the Trinity bomb test and the church rock uranium tailings spill disaster, both of which took place on the 16th of July, but 34 years apart. First Trinity Tana Cordova grew up in her family home in the two LaRosa basin, 40 miles from the explosion of the first atomic bomb in 1945, a cancer survivor like so many in her community in 2005, she co-founded the Tularosa basin downwinders consortium. She and her community had been working for compensation for New Mexico, atomic downwinders through the Rica act for the past 16 years, I spoke with Tina Cordova for nuclear hot seat on July 18th, 2020
Tina Cordova. It is so good to have you here with us on nuclear hot seat.
It’s great to be with you levy. And I’m a very grateful that you’ve taken an interest in our story because it’s a story that should be told and that as many people as can hear it should hear it. So I’m grateful and glad to be here.
Now you are clearly too young to have been alive when the Trinity tests took place. So tell us about your family’s background. Where did they live? How close they were to the blast site and a little about what their lives were like before the Trinity blast.
You’re absolutely right. I was born in 1959 so much later than the Trinity test, but my family has, I can trace my family back about seven generations in the tuberosa basin, but my father was a four year old child living in the little village to the Roesler about 40 miles. The way the crows fly from the test site. At that time, my mother was not living in Tularosa. She, her family had lived there, moved away and then moved back. But my mother wasn’t there on the day of the test, my grandmothers and grandfathers, and great-grandfathers most of my family, aunts, uncles, many, many relatives were living there at the time. And our history with the test is that we have been, I have been told for many, many years the stories that were passed down in my family about the daily event. And, but my elders, my grandmothers, my grandfathers remembered about the tests.
And that basically there was this explosion that the sky lit up like daylight before daylight and that this explosion rocked the village. And that for days afterwards and Ash fell from the sky, it’s a story that gets repeated over and over by people who were alive at the time and can tell the story. Now, although those people are few and far between, and when the Asheville from the sky, it became unfortunately a part of the environment that the people so depended on for their life, for their life and their livelihood. And obviously it had devastating consequences. I try to remind people that life in one of those rural communities in 1945 was very organic. First of all, we didn’t have running water. So we depended on the rain that fell from the sky to charge up, fill up our systems, our lakes, our rivers, our creeks, our ditches, our holding ponds, where people went and utilize those sources or their entire water source.
And that meant they’re drinking. They’re bathing, they’re cleaning, they’re doing laundry, they’re cooking source for water. It also became part of the environmental in a way that that had a far reaching consequences, because there were no grocery stores, no one had refrigeration. So you couldn’t go to a grocery store and buy dairy. You couldn’t buy me. She couldn’t buy produce. All of those things you’ve produced yourself. So people had gardens, they had orchards, they had a local dairy, or they had their own account for the purpose of milk. And also for the purpose of protein. And they raised chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, we hunted small mammals and birds. We gathered, hunted, grew, raised everything that we ate. And now that was entirely negatively impacted by the Ash that fell from the sky. And, and obviously contaminated everything. We were maximally exposed. There’s basically three routes of exposure, inhalation, ingestion, and absorption. And we were maximally exposed. We received all of those. And I always tell people also, don’t forget that if you don’t have running water, you don’t bake as often. So if that Ash got on your skin or in your hair, it likely remained there for many, many days. And so you had a chance to be maximally exposed. What were you told at the time
Had actually happened? And what were you led to believe? The Ash that was falling this gray Ash was all about.
We were told nothing beforehand and we were told very little afterwards at the time of the test, the government had basically concocted multiple stories that would be released through the press, depending on what the outcome was, which is very crazy. When you, when you think about it, the final story that they utilized in the news a few days after the test was that an ammunition gun out on the missile range had exploded and that there was no loss of life and no damage done. But the thing that everybody also has to remember in 1945, no one had a television. There were few people had radios. There were newspapers printed. Usually once a week, they got distributed and shared people didn’t have access to information. So for many, many people, they didn’t know what had happened. And it was huge. It was enormous. I mean, it knocked people out of their beds in the morning.
People told me, they thought it was the end of the world and that their mother made them all dropped to their knees and start praying the rosary because they were certain with the end of the world. And people were left with PTSD. By the way, as a result of this, it broke people’s windows, cracked their walls, everything fell out of the cupboard. I mean, it was enormous. And if you and I experienced something like that, right now, we could get on the internet and we’d know within minutes, what just place. And then after the bombings that took place on August 6th and ninth in Japan, the government did finally admit that they had tested the device in the desert of New Mexico that produced the bombs that they took to Japan. That still meant nothing to anybody.
It was intentional. When you mentioned the multiple press releases that were written, they were actually written by an embedded reporter from the New York times, a man named William L. Lawrence. Why no, you have cited for some of his other writing, but he was the one who wrote the range of press releases. Everything from oh, nothing happened to we’re evacuating the state. Now he knew about radioactivity. There was nothing in there. And then after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he’s the one who wrote the majority of articles that came out about it. And again, completely eliminated any mention of radiation or radioactivity. So there was no sense of the long-term damage that was done now, in terms of that long-term damage to health. When did that start showing up? And when did people start connecting that with the gray Ash that fell from the bomb going off from the test
Before I get into that, let me just say that the government counted very heavily on the people who lived in the area to be uneducated, unsophisticated, and unable to stick up for themselves, even after they came back and said that, that there might be radiation. I know there’s a, a story in the literature that I’ve read many times about one of the ranchers who encountered some of these soldiers that came back to take a look at the radiation on his ranch. And he said, what are you doing? And they said, we’re checking for radioactivity. And he said, you won’t find any here. We don’t have the radio turned on. And so there was no understanding of what this meant, but your question in regards to when did the disease manifestation start in 1955, both of my great-grandfathers died from what they called stomach cancer. And that was at a time when no one in these little towns had ever heard the word cancer.
And it was a terrible, terrible thing because they didn’t have treatment. People didn’t have insurance. There certainly was no access to healthcare in the little town that I grew up in. There was no way to be diagnosed. There, there was no treatment. People even wondered if they could catch this from people who had it. And so my great grandfather suffered a great deal before they died. They were, I believe, put on morphine from the stories I was told. And they basically laid in a bed and died a few months after they started to get sick, but no one was putting it together as related to the bomb and people continue to die. I’m a thyroid cancer survivor. And when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the first thing I asked you was when were you exposed to radiation? Did you work with radioactive isotopes? Did you work in a lab?
Did you ever work in an x-ray facility? Have you had a lot of x-rays, but I will tell you the truth. I started to connect these dots. When I was in college, I have a degree in the sciences and I started to realize the reason there’s so many people in my community sick and dying is because we were overexposed to radiation. It has to be that. And people started talking about it, but you have to also realize that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you and the government did an incredible job of controlling the messaging. Always, yes, they said the area was remote and uninhabited, but in reality, tens of thousands of people live in a 50 mile radius and per their own admission. They said, we can never do this here again because we’ve so overexposed people to radiation. And if we do it again, we have to find an area with a 150 mile radius uninhabited.
They went to Nevada to establish that. But if you draw a radius around Trinity, 150 miles, it encompasses Albuquerque to the north and past El Paso to the south and to almost art Eastern and Western border in New Mexico, that’s our entire state. So now you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people that were exposed. The other thing that the government did a really good job of is creating the idea inside of these communities, that we should be proud of. The fact that we participated in this event that brought an end to the war. And for some people that was important. A lot of people that was very important because number one, their husbands, their brothers were off serving in the Pacific. So this was going to put an end to that and bring these men home. And not only that, but these facilities, these government facilities employ a lot of people.
And I have to tell you on more than one occasion, people have told me, you keep this up and they’re going to close those bases and we’re not going to have jobs. And I’ve said, that’ll never happen. That will never happen. And we can’t be fearful of those sorts of things, but that will never happen. Our government doesn’t have the resources to reestablish that bombing range. That’s the largest anyplace that has the largest airspace to any place in the world. And so they made us fear for our jobs. They made us feel some level of pride because we were in my mind, enlisted into the service of our country without consent or knowledge. And then they minimized it. Oh, it’s remoted. I didn’t have it. Oh, nobody was affected. And the fact that the government never came back also gave this sense that there was no reason to come back.
It wasn’t dangerous. Nothing happened that could possibly have caused problems, but people always talked about why are there so many of us sick? Why are so many of us dying? And it wasn’t until 15 years ago when we started our work, that people just started coming out of the woodwork and saying, you know what? I knew this all along. I thought this all along, you know, everybody in my family is gone. Now everybody’s sick. And now it’s affecting my children and my grandchildren. And so, you know, everybody now has, has embraced this now understands it to be true. And now science is in our favorite as well.
So let’s roll this back slightly as to how you made the connection from being in college and studying the sciences and starting to become aware to this time 15 years ago, when you founded the group. And we’ll explain about that too, but how did you take that journey to enough realization that you helped with the founding of the two Aerosa basin consortium?
So I read an article in the reader’s digest about the Nevada test site downwinders and this probably happened, I would say at least a good 20, maybe 22 years ago that I read this article and I saved it because I, I, the minute I read it, I said, this is us. This is us. And this now explains. And it also explains the fact that there are other people trying to be recognized. And then I read a letter to the editor in the newspaper from back home from a gentleman who said, I’d lived my whole career away from here, and now I’m back to retire. And my mother just died after having three cancers and everybody is sick and dying. And when are we going to hold the government accountable? And I knew this gentleman, he was older than I, I didn’t go to school with him.
I went to school with some of his brothers and sisters and I, but I knew him. And I contacted him. I said, Fred, we have to do something about this because it is absolutely the truth. And there are downwinders and other parts of the country as well. And I’ve read about this and I’ve done some loose research on it. And, and I know because of the science that I know and understand it had to have had an effect on us. And so we started the organization and then immediately started doing a lot of research. And that really did lead to a realization of how this could have potentially been so devastating or the people who lived 12. I always say we’ve identified ranchers that live 12 miles away. Imagine that, but the people that lived in communities, you know, 12, 15, 20, 30, 40 miles away, I mean, those people were have great, basically for 75 years been relegated to nothingness. We counted for nothing. I had somebody tell me one time. We’re not even Guinea pigs because they checked back on Guinea pigs. And I said, you know what? That’s like the most profound thing. I never even thought of it in those terms, they, they didn’t even consider us to be test subjects because they’ve never come back check.
Has there been any kind of government testing or epidemiology or checking into this to try and find out what the impact actually was?
No epidemiological studies have ever been done, which is incredibly unfortunate because our government could probably at this point, understand a whole lot more than they ever have about the effects of radiation on the human body and not just on the human body, but on, on your genetics and how that affects future generations. Right? It may be because nobody really wants to know that you’ve heard about that. But having said all that, there are only two things that I know about the Los Alamos historic document, retrieval and assessment, or the Hydra project, which was a ten-year project paid for by the department of energy requested by Congress as a result of the people in New Mexico, wanting to know what were the releases from Los Alamos as they develop and, and did the little bit of testing that they did in Los Alamos, the elephant in the room as they conducted that year test was the Trinity site.
And we know now because one of the primary investigators, Dr. Joseph Shunka has now challenged the false narrative that exists, that nobody lived here and nobody was harmed. And he has extrapolated taking what he knows from those ten-year study that he did on LA Hydra. He’s taken the information that he had access to there, extrapolated, knowing what we now about the type of blast that it was at Trinity and everything else, and said that the people in New Mexico were exposed to somewhere between 10 and a hundred times more radiation than anyone ever has been from any other nuclear incident in the world, including Chernobyl Fukushima, Nevada test site, et cetera, which is mind boggling, try wrapping your mind around that, that study the largest study in chapter set, 10 clearly states that the CDC believes that the exposures, the day of the blast could have been as much as 10,000 times.
What’s considered acceptable today to some of the population that lives in the vicinity to the test site that is unforgivable. How long ago was that test? How long ago were those results found that report was published? I want to say in 2015, five years ago, and there was actually some, the CDC actually put forward recommendations that they thought someone the government should follow up on. And there were a number of recommendations around the Trinity test site. And most of those recommendations had fallen on deaf ears and after spending spending, I believe the entire process was an over, over $10 million. And to not follow up on the recommendations is, is insanity above and beyond that though, and national Institute of health has been conducting a dose reconstruction that they started. I want to say five years ago, and the dose reconstruction we’ve had very little to count on in the beginning of this dose reconstruction.
They consulted closely with members of community, for specific reasons, to help them get the tribal entities, to invite them to come here and do this, which they absolutely had to have to move forward with the study. We delivered those statements from the tribal entities. We also help them develop your questions that they would ask. But imagine trying to conduct a dose reconstruction 70 to 75 years later, depending on people’s recollections, when they’re somewhere older than 70 years old, when they first came here, they told us, and I remember this very distinctly that they wouldn’t consider anybody to participate unless they had been 13 years or older at the time of the test so that they would have some real recollection. And I said, those people don’t exist anymore because they’ve all died from cancer. I mean, you’re never going to find people like what you’re looking for.
They’re so few and far between. And if you find any people like, like that, that you can recognize you won’t have enough of them for this study to be considered scientific. But anyway, having said all that, they moved ahead with this dose reconstruction and I’ve had many scientists. I count on that. I trust who have amazing reputations have told me it’s impossible to do a dose reconstruction this far down, you know, this late in the history of the incident, in other words. So they relaxed their qualifications and said, if you were alive at the time. So I know somebody that was born eight days before the bomb, they would consider her somebody they could rely on, but she doesn’t remember what life was like in 1945, where she got water or how her family got food. And actually, when you think about it, everything changed dramatically after the war because our government put all the money into infrastructure and building the infrastructure in our country.
And now we had running water and we had refrigeration because we had electricity, et cetera. And so things changed dramatically though, the woman I know who was born eight days before the bomb, she wouldn’t remember that they gathered water from a sister or that they got their milk from a milk. How necessarily. And then the other thing we know about is that this last summer, a year ago, there was an article published in a scientific journal about how we had a huge spike in infant mortality in the months, right after the Trinity test. That’s the Bob Alvarez, kitty Tucker research that was done absolutely. And many, many thanks to kiddie Tucker and Bob Alvarez. Kitty is the one that contacted the New Mexico department of health and received the information many, many years ago. And she sat on it for many years because she wasn’t, I don’t think certain how she would use that information or work when it might become important, but they publish those findings.
And what’s absolutely unforgivable about it is that when the Manhattan project was contacted by health care worker from New Mexico and asked what could explain the infant mortality that we’re seeing, we’re losing babies. We hear it’s worse. This woman was from Roswell, New Mexico. She said, we hear it’s worse in Alamogordo. And she said, it doesn’t seem to matter what we do. We can’t keep these babies alive. And the Manhattan project decided to deny. And they basically said, we’ve looked at the statistics and the statistics don’t show that. And that is an absolute lie because kitty Tucker has the department of health statistics that show that in those months, following Trinity, after a steady year decline in infant mortality, because of the advent of antibiotics, medical practices, hygienic practices, keeping babies alive changed dramatically. But having said all that, they decided to deny and lie and look the other way. And we had casualties from Trinity, they were babies, they were children and that’s just unforgivable. And that was the infant mortality rate that spiked
In the months in the, certainly in August of 1945. And beyond that for the next few months,
That’s correct. From August through October, we saw these huge increases and knowing what we know about radiation exposure. Now that would make perfect sense because your exposure to radiation is a factor of distance and time. One of the reasons why we were so overexposed because we live so much closer, your exposure is also based on your body mass. So if you’re a child or a baby, because you have a smaller body mass, you would have received a higher dose exposure. It all makes sense. And it’s not outside of reason to be able to draw a conclusion. It’s probably what they saw. And I’m not an expert on this, but I’ll bet I’ll bet. Most of what I have, that it’s the same thing they saw on Parotia and Nagasaki after the bombings in August, the babies that were alive at that point, couldn’t sustain the radiation doses. And they probably had babies die as a result.
It’s significant that after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that there was no real study, no real epidemiology done until it was started five years later, meaning the earliest of the deaths and the most severe rate of death would have already been long past. So at five years they picked it up and that’s the hibachi study that’s been going on since.
Yeah. And how, how unfortunate, because if you want to know the truth and if you want to get at the truth, then especially as it relates to this sort of an issue, you take that up almost immediately so that you can understand the full scope of the impact.
Let’s take a look now at the work that is being done is still being done by the two Aerosa base and downwinders consortium that you helped to found. And that is still ongoing. Where are you focusing your efforts? These days?
Our entire focus these days is on getting the amendments to the radiation. Exposure compensation act passed the amendments, specifically those house bill 37 83 would extend compensation to the people of New Mexico for the first time ever. That fund has been in place for 30 years, and we’ve never been included. We were the first people exposed to radiation, any place in the world and how we were left out. I always say as the $2.3 billion question, that’s, what’s been paid out in compensation so far
Now, who is included in that. But if that includes the Navajo uranium miners,
It includes the Nevada test downwinders. And, and let me, let me also state, this is, this is something that’s very important to you. The history of all this New Mexico was downwind of the Nevada test site. That is very well-documented. When the government did the testing in Nevada, they put up monitors in different states, and one of them was New Mexico. It’s very well documented that through the summer of 1962, when they did above-ground testing New Mexico received radiation exposure because of that. But the compensation stops right at the Arizona New Mexico border, as if there’s some led curtain there that offers us protection. So I always say, if you live five feet over that border to one side, you get compensated. If you live five feet over that border, to the other side, you do not. That’s how unjust this is, but it includes uranium miners. And there are many of them in New Mexico, but only if you mind uranium before 1971, if you mind uranium after 1971, you’re not included because that’s when uranium became publicly available for the use in the production of energy, for example.
And so the government said, we’re no longer going to accept responsibility for the damage that’s done to human health, because that’ll take care of itself, you know, private industry, which you well know never, ever happens. So we have all of these miners that continue to work in the uranium mining industry that aren’t taken care of. And it’s such a very sad history for them because you might have a gentleman that lives on one side of the street being compensated, and a gentleman that lives on the other side of the street not compensated. And, you know, I I’ve been to these communities. They often asked me to come speak about the downwinders and I can’t believe the stories I hear. They’re just like, I can’t believe the stories I hear in the downwind communities about people having the whole bake sales so they can buy their pain medication or the uranium miner that I heard speak in Laguna Pueblo, who said, my wife walks the Pueblo every week and asks people to, to gift us money. So we can put gas in our car to get me to Albuquerque so I can get my treatment that is also unforgivable. And so the fund now takes care of the downwinders from Nevada. And it includes people in parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, nobody from New Mexico and then men and women who worked in uranium mining industry before 1971
With the work that you’re doing and trying to move this forward. And now that we have hit the 75th anniversary of the start of the atomic age, when all these horrors began, there’s been a lot of media coverage, both raw nukes, and talking about how deadly the test was and the radioactivity with this bump in visibility. I know that your group was to put together an event that unfortunately COVID took down, but you still put together a video. Tell us about that video and what it consists of.
So part of our, our goal has always been to educate as many people about this issue as possible. And our in-person annual candlelight vigil is a beautiful cathartic event that we developed 10 years ago to offer support and comfort to those people. Who’ve lost loved ones and to forever memorialized them their names. I always said, if the government’s not going to come back and care one bit about these people, it’s our job and our duty because they are our families and our friends to make sure that at least once a year, once a year, their name is acknowledged because they were true Patriots that literally gave up their lives in service of our country. And so we have this annual candlelight vigil. We like what’s called a lumen, Adia, a paper sack with a candle in it. And we call out their names. Well, because this, she couldn’t do that.
We decided to put together a video that we could share widely. And it’s been seen all over the world actually. And the video consists of us giving an explanation of the Trinity test and what made it so devastating to human health. And then a group of very brave individuals told their own family experiences with the sacrifice and suffering. And then our elected officials who support us. We have huge support from our governor, our Lieutenant governor, and our entire congressional delegation. And then they all came forward with the video as well. We received videos from everybody except the two senators who were unable to actually participate. But then as a follow on to all of that, we read the names of those people as part of our video. And you can’t watch this and not have those names are provided to us by family and friends of these people who’ve died.
We add names, many, many, many, many names every year. And it’s through a voluntary process. I always say that if we went door to door in these communities, we wouldn’t call out, you know, 800 and some odd names. We would call out thousands of names. It would take us probably the better part of four or five hours to list all the needs. It’s a wonderful video. We’re very proud of how it all came together. The other reason I think it’s important for us to remind people about the effects of testing is because there’s been this idea floated recently in our country that maybe we should resume testing nuclear devices. And I always say that what they tell you is it’s perfectly safe and it is until the moment it’s not. And then when it’s not, it’s catastrophic. And if you think somebody is going to come back out of the goodness of who they are to take care of you think again, because we’ve been appealing to their better angels for 10 years. Now, there have been bills entered into Congress to add us to the radiation exposure compensation act, which we so much deserve. And for 10 years they’ve looked the other way, but, but for 75 years, they’ve chosen to and acknowledge the suffering and sacrifice the people of New Mexico experience. So if there is a catastrophic catastrophic event, don’t ever think somebody is going to come back and take care of it, it’s not gonna happen.
So we’re at the 75th anniversary. And right now is the low between when the Trinity test happened and then the dropping of the bombs on Japan, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, with this bump of visibility that the issues have gotten, the Trinity has gotten, what can you do? And what can the listeners of nuclear hotseat do to help you benefit from the visibility and from the awareness bleeding though, it is in the new cycle to be able to help you gain the compensation that you believe you deserve.
First of all, everybody out there has somebody who represents them in Congress, in the house and the Senate. And the first thing that people can do is contact their members of Congress, wherever they are, and let them know that they support house bill 3,783 and the passage of that bill and that it, it is high time that that bill is passed. The thing they tell us year after year about these bills is that they don’t have the money to add us to the radiation exposure compensation act. Can you imagine the insult that is added to the injury by saying something so incredibly without compassion or empathy? You know, like I said, we’ve been appealing to their better angels, and that is the result of appealing to their better angels. If people start contacting Congress and their members of Congress and start putting this on their radar screen, then this bill will gain momentum.
The other thing that they can ask their, their members of Congress to do is to become co-signers to these bills. Both bills have bipartisan support, and we won’t take the excuse any longer that there’s not money for this. When they’re passing trillion dollar bills in relief of COVID, which I fully understand, and we know are necessary, but when they have political will to do these things, they do them, they do them. And so when you have a defense bill every year, that’s in the trillions, when you have the idea of building more plutonium pits and money going into doing those sorts of things, they’re certainly as money to fund and take care of the problems that exist from the past. And we’re not going to settle for that excuse any longer.
Tina, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention at this time?
I just want to express to people how grateful we are for the support we have received. I am so grateful for the exposure from the 75th anniversary, but it has to be this exposure, this knowledge that people have gained because of everything that they know about the Trinity downwinders, they have to take action on this. You know, the average person has to take action on this. And what I mean by that is that if you become complacent in these types of issues, you’re then complicit. And the truth of the matter is this is nothing more than a moral and an ethical issue. There’s a moral and an ethical issue to right this wrong and to extend justice to the people of New Mexico. And I just want to say that we are grateful for the support, and we hope that everybody out there will be moved to become active in this fight. We need people from all across the country to do outreach to Washington DC, and make sure that their representatives understand how important it is.
Tina. We will of course, link to your website on nuclear, hot seat.com. Under this episode, we will also have the video up and other information that we think is going to be relevant so that they can continue this for now. I was deeply moved by the video. I’m deeply moved by your passion and your focus and your drive and what you’ve been able to accomplish thus far. And I’m extremely grateful that we found the time for you to be my guest this week on nuclear hot seat.
Well, I thank you. And I know that you reach a lot of people, and these are people who are activists by nature, and we identify with each other. And I just appreciate this opportunity greatly. Thank you so much,
Tina Cordova of the Tularosa basin downwinders consortium, we’ll have two more interviews. These focusing on the impact of the church, rock uranium, tailings, ponds, spill, and uranium mining on Navajo nation land in just a moment. But first the Trinity test church, rock uranium, mining, radioactive waste dumps Nevada test site, Chernobyl Fukushima, three mile island, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and too many more. The list of nuclear dangers and disasters is as endless as plutonium, which has a radioactive half-life of 24,000 years. And that’s just the start of it. Every week. There are stories about how this industry perpetuates itself and how any one of us can take an action and make a difference in trying to stop atomic and nuclear madness. That’s why nuclear hotseat is here to help you understand what’s going on in the nuclear world and what you can do about it. We get into nuclear stories with facts, continuity and context, as well as the healthy dose of skepticism with a much deeper and nuanced telling than you would ever expect to find on mainstream media.
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I am deeply grateful that you’re listening and that you care. Now, here are this week’s second and third featured interviews. The church rock uranium tailings pond spill in 1976, also July 16 released 94 million tons of uranium laced water into the adjacent Porco river, a disaster, which has never been cleaned up while it happened only four months after the partial meltdown at three mile island, this nuclear disaster was ignored by major media and unknown until recently, even by dedicated anti-nuclear campaigners. In 2019, I traveled to Navajo nation to report on church truck and the ongoing contamination from abandoned uranium mines. That was for nuclear hot seat. Number 4 23 of July 30th, 2019. My trip was timed to be able to attend the 40th anniversary of the church rock disaster, which the land and the water has still not been cleaned up while there I spoke with many who had grown up with these dangers and were still suffering from what it did to them, their families, their livestock, the land, and the water here. I share with you two brief interviews that have stayed with me through all this time. The first is with Edith hood. She is a Navajo nation elder who grew up in the red water pond road community on land, which had her living between two uranium mines and just down the road from the 1979 tailings pond spill, Edith worked at a different mind than the UNC facility that had the accident, but faced all the same dangers. We spoke on July 18th, 2019, about how she found out about the accident and what was done in the immediate aftermath.
No, I didn’t know about it till about two days later, it had happened. I heard reports that there’s already the damn breach happening, but nobody did anything about it. I don’t think anybody had an idea of what to do or how it would affect people, maybe down the way, especially for us, you know, never even me having to work in the mines. Did I ever hear the word unsafe? Something’s going to happen to you, especially no physical here, body.
She didn’t learn about the dangers until more than 20 years after the spill prob
Probably in 2003, the mines have been posed for like 20 years. And I guess most of our talking was about the mine sites, where they were left as is not fenced in not covered no signs, nothing.
When the first testing was done around red water pond road, community, the results were shocking. What did they find?
But this is along the highway. And then somewhere they got into the ditches. As he kept going up through here, up into our little, or is by in the center of the community. They showed hotspots their rehab. They never say it was unsafe. Everything’s clean. And they left after that time. That’s when I was diagnosed with lymphoma,
Edith hood Teracita SITA, Kiana has lived her entire life in the red water pond road community. She was not even born when the church rock uranium spill happened, but that did not stop her exposure to uranium mining waste by what was deposited by the spill and the two surrounding mines. I asked her what she’d been told about the accident while growing up.
Nothing. I wasn’t aware of it. I didn’t know much about it as a child. I played in these abandoned uranium mills and mining areas and my grandmother owned sheep. So sometimes I had to herd the sheep or get the sheep when they got onto the mining areas, the million areas, and there was no fencing up. And so I just walked right in, got our sheep, came back through, got the back at home. Nobody ever said you don’t go in these areas. That’s dangerous, nothing like that.
The first signs of impact from the spill came from the livestock
Sheep that had been butchered years ago. And the entire insides, the internal organs all are tinted yellowish. And that’s due to the radiation.
The problems continue to this day,
PA they won’t allow us to plant crops because we can’t eat them. Can’t keep our livestock. The reason why we have our lifestyle is because we utilize them is an economic way and also a cultural way. We don’t just keep, just to have as white folks like to have horses and cows just to be there. We like to utilize everything. So our sheep, we eat it. The wool, we use it to create rugs
Through the years. The impact on her family’s health has been extensive and devastating.
We have had cancers, respiratory illnesses. We’ve had some people pass away from respiratory illnesses, pulmonary fibrosis. So basically these people who have passed away from respiratory illnesses, we had to watch him suffocate to death, and it was very traumatic. And it’s something that we have to live in endure just because it’s almost a norm here because of the radiation and the impact that the dust and the water and the land has done to our bodies done to our community. You know, you hate to say it, but it’s kind of just like environmental racism, where our community is somewhat seen as expendable. You hate to say it and you hate to feel that way, but that’s how it feels for our entire community, that we are the expendable people, because it took so long for anybody to acknowledge what was going on here.
Tara SITA, Kiana of the red water pond road community on Navajo nation. For those of you who wish to know more about the church track uranium mining disaster, I will have a link up to the 40th anniversary program, the full program on the website, nuclear hot.com. Under this episode, number 5 27, this has been nuclear hot seat for Tuesday, July 27th, 2021 material for this week show has been researched and compiled from nuclear-news.net to own renard.wordpress.com beyond nuclear international.com. The international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, travel and leisure.com. CBS news.com local twelve.com AP news.com. Seed coalition.com. ARS technica.com ntis.org, San Louis obispo.com. Lancaster online.com post register.com simply info.org, Anglia trust.net, CC, and r.org. The propagandists at the world, nuclear news and the captured and compromised by the industry. They’re supposed to be regulating nuclear regulatory commission, put regulatory in quotes. Thanks to all of you for listening and a big shout out to nuclear hot seat listeners and followers around the world.
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