Science Moab talks to Dr. Tommy Rock about uranium exposure on the Navajo Nation
The Colorado Plateau has a long history of uranium mining, particularly within the Navajo Nation. Hundreds of abandoned uranium mines still contaminate water sources and ecologies within the Nation, creating dangerous levels of exposure within tribal communities.
Science Moab spoke with Dr. Tommy Rock, an environmental scientist who has testified before Congress as a leading expert in uranium contamination on the Navajo Nation, about his work to uncover these exposure pathways while empowering his community.
Science Moab: Can you explain the history of uranium mining within the Navajo Nation?
Rock: The mining actually first started with people looking for vanadium. [A chemical element primarily used as an additive to steel. -ed.] People flocked to the Four Corners area looking for it. Uranium mining started around 1918, but really started booming in the 1950s and ‘60s when the atomic bomb happened and the Cold War began.
Science Moab: How many mines are in this area from that historic mining era?
Rock: On the Navajo Nation, there are over 1,000 individual abandoned uranium mines. On the Environmental Protection Agency side, that’s 523 abandoned “mine domains” as they typically group mines in one area and count them as one site. Many of the mines out there aren’t even documented.
For the rest of this interview: https://www.moabsunnews.com/news/article_d9aa6976-5775-11eb-a755-6baeab1d739e.html