Cleanup of Rayrock, the ‘Tłı̨chǫ Giant,’ to receive public scrutiny – by Ollie Williams (Cabin Radio – April 22, 2021)

Federal plans to clean up the former Rayrock uranium mine and its surroundings will be examined at a three-day public hearing to be broadcast live by Cabin Radio next week.

The area around the mine, known as Kwetıı̨ɂ̨aà to the Tłı̨chǫ people, is in some ways the Tłı̨chǫ equivalent of Yellowknife’s Giant Mine. Both left a toxic legacy that’s complex, time-consuming and expensive to deal with.

The Rayrock mine, around 60 km northeast of Whatì, only operated from 1957 to 1959. “The Tłı̨chǫ were never informed of the dangers of uranium mining before the mine was built, or soon after it was closed,” the Tłı̨chǫ Government has said.

The impact on the surrounding land – and Tłı̨chǫ people – has been felt for generations. Cleanup work took place in the 1990s but more problems have since come to light.

“People used to travel here before. And once they discovered it was contaminated, they hardly use it any more,” Noel Drybones said in 2018 according to a Tłı̨chǫ Government document filed in advance of the hearing. (The Tłı̨chǫ Government did not respond to interview requests for this report.)

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