NH #423: Uranium Mining Disaster – Church Rock Uranium Tailings Pond Breach – 40th Anniversary SPECIAL, Pt. 2: Navajo Nation Elders & Activists Speak Out on Cancers, Contamination, Slow-Motion EPA Clean-up

Uranium Miner Larry J. King (center) explains the site of the 1979 Church Rock uranium tailings pond breach that dumped more than 94 million gallons of uranium contaminated waste water into the adjacent Puerco River – a nuclear disaster that, 40 years later, has yet to be cleaned up.

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This Week’s SPECIAL Featured Interviews:

Uranium mining marks the start of the nuclear fuel chain and the deadly journey that element takes to become atomic weapons, nuclear reactors, and tons of highly radioactive waste that we do not know how to store safely for tens of thousands of years.

On July 13 and 14, Nuclear Hotseat attended commemorative events for the 1979 Church Rock uranium tailings pond breach and spill, which dumped more than 94 million gallons of highly acidic radioactive water into the adjacent Puerco River. The contamination reached Sanders, Arizona, and was recorded at least 80 miles away. The spill has never been cleaned up, and even now, while it has been declared a Superfund site, it will take at least two years before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission finishes its review of the EPA’s clean-up plan – and clean-up can’t even begin until and unless the plan is approved.. And even that plan has come in for criticism by activists and community members.

This very special Nuclear Hotseat is an audio montage of interviews with community leaders from Navajo Nation – most specifically the Red Water Pond Road Community, located adjacent to the spill site; commemoration event attendees; government officials; and activists from as far away as Japan. We spoke with:

  • Former uranium miner Larry J. King, who was on-site at the United Nuclear Corporation mine the day of the tailings pond spill
Former UNC Church Rock uranium miner Larry J. King on his land facing the site of the 1974 uranium tailings pond breach and spill. He holds a commemorative kerchief.
  • Redwater Pond Road Community members Jackie Bell, Edith Hood, Terracita Keyanna, Anna Benally, who live next to the spill site.
Terracita Keyanna next to sign warning “no uranium mining” in Navajo
Red Water Pond Road Community member Edith Hood,
on the land where she has lived her entire life.
  • Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez
  • New Mexico state senator George Muñoz
  • Southwest Research and Information Center Research Director Paul Robinson and Director of the Uranium Impact Assessment Program, Chris Shuey
  • Environmental Protection Agency District 9 (San Francisco) rep Sean Hogan
  • Journalist and Nuclear Nation Film Festival producer Mervyn Tilden
Journalist and Nuclear Nation Film Festival producer Mervyn Tilden, on the job covering the 40th anniversary commemoration of the Church Rock uranium tailings pond spill

NOTE: Links to films available online will be posted when available. Stay tuned.