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Would You Like Uranium with That? Navajos File Suit to Stop Mining

February 15, 2007


"No uranium in our drinking water." That's the message from New Mexico's Navajo communities. They have filed an appeal in federal court this week to stop proposed uranium mining near Crownpoint and Church Rock. The appeal alleges that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a mining license even though the mining company, Hydro Resources, has failed to prove it could safeguard the health of neighboring residents and protect drinking water supplies from uranium contamination.

Attorney Eric Jantz of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center says the mining would affect aquifers currently being used for drinking water.

"It's not appropriate to do the mining in aquifers that people are using for drinking water supplies. If it's an
aquifer that's already contaminated from other industrial uses or prior uranium mining, then that's fine."

Jantz explains that during the permitting process thus far, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has overruled health concerns, which is why the Navajo have turned to the courts for help.

"It really comes down to whether or not the communities can force the federal government to protect their groundwater.
The mining companies won't do it on their own."

Hydro Resources counters that its plans for uranium mining are safe and environmentally benign.

Dondrea Warner/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - NM