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Posted on Jun 29, 2016 in MASE in the News, Media/Press Releases

2016 Uranium Tailings Spill Commemoration

2016 Uranium Tailings Spill Commemoration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 27, 2016

Contact: Edith Hood, Red Water Pond Road Community Association  505.905.8051 home, 505.713-4085 cell

Susan Gordon, Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, coordinator 505.577.8438   sgordon@swuraniumimpacts.org  contact for photos or graphics

Red Water Pond Road Community: 37 Years Since North East Church Rock 

Uranium Tailings Spill That Was Never Investigated Nor Cleaned Up

  • Uranium Tailings Spill Commemoration, Saturday, July 16 7 am to 3 pm, 12 miles North of Red Rock State Park on State Highway 566 near Churchrock, NM

The Red Water Pond Road Community on Navajo Nation will be hosting their 37th annual commemoration of the 1979 Uranium Tailings Spill that is the largest uranium tailings spill in the United States. 

In the early morning hours on July 16, 1979, an earthen dam that held liquid uranium waste broke, releasing 1,000 tons of solid radioactive mill waste and more than 90 million gallons of acidic and radioactive liquids into the Rio Puerco. The contaminants flowed downstream through the town of Gallup, NM and across nine Navajo chapters.  Residents in the area tell stories of being out herding sheep and then seeing a wave of green liquid coming their way.  Some of them were covered in it while they returned home.  

Several days after the spill, United Nuclear Corporation sent a handful of people out with shovels and buckets in an attempt to remediate the mess. To this day there has been no reclamation, no study to see how far the contamination went and its impacts on local water systems and people’s health. United Nuclear Corporation has not been held accountable for the spill.

“Let us come together again and share these issues and concerns, collaborate and strategize, to push clean up of these contaminated environments among our Diné people, to restore, preserve and protect our Mother Earth,” said Edith Hood, Red Water Pond Road Community resident. “It is time for our state and tribal governments to stand up and help these impacted communities on Dinetah. There has been enough talk. It is time to take action on behalf of the people.”  

The North East Church Rock community are concerned about the uranium contamination legacy that has poisoned Mother Earth, including our sacred waters, land, and livestock. This gathering will provide a venue to discuss and educate everyone about the impacts of uranium mining and milling and about the ongoing work to remove uranium contaminated soil from the surrounding areas to protect our families and environment. 

There will be a walk to the spill site to offer healing prayers, food, speeches a silent auction and community education.