Researcher: Uranium cleanup should be No. 1 priority – by Rima Krisst (Navajo Times – March 12, 2020)

CROWNPOINT, N.M.: “Illness due to uranium is no longer just the story of the miners. It’s the story of their children and grandchildren,” said Southwest Research and Information Center Environmental Health Specialist Chris Shuey. Shuey, who studies contaminants in the environment and their potential health effects, calls the legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation an atrocity.

“Hopefully, these hearings will result in new and better policy to speed up the cleanup, fund addition health studies, and get reparations and compensation for the people,” said Shuey, who presented at a hearing in Crownpoint on a proposed Navajo Nation position statement on uranium.

Because of the shroud of secrecy and superstition surrounding uranium as a weapon of war, health studies and continuing education about the impacts did not occur as soon as they should have, he said. “Not knowing and not talking is equivalent to a death sentence because you can’t do anything about it,” said Shuey.

That’s why hearings like this are so important, he said. “They give folks who have been directly affected by uranium development an avenue to talk about the impacts to their health, the land, their families, and their cultural practices,” said Shuey.

Navajo Nation residents who’ve been exposed to radioactive uranium mining sites or have lived near abandoned mines say their communities have been exposed to elevated risk of illness, including lung, liver, heart, stomach, and kidney disease and a variety of cancers and other ailments.

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