Historic Inter-American Hearing on Impacts to Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights from Uranium Exploitation

Members of Indigenous communities provided testimony to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at an historic hearing in Washington, DC this week about the impacts of uranium exploitation on their human rights.  The New Mexico Environmental Law Center represents the communities.  https://nmelc.org/

As the United States doubles down on the false notion that nuclear power is a solution to the climate crisis, the uranium development industry is beginning to benefit from generous taxpayer giveaways to the nuclear industry as a whole.  Subsidies from the Biden administration have spurred uranium-mining production to restart in at least three mines in the last few months in Utah, Wyoming, and on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

In 2015 the Commission held a thematic hearing on the “Impact of Extractive Industries on the Sacred Sites of Indigenous Peoples in the United States,” where the Navajo Nation, Pueblos of Laguna, San Carlos and others participated.

As has been the case since the dawn of the Atomic Age, the impacts of uranium mining are largely left out of the debate over nuclear power.  The hearing allowed Native communities who have lived for generations with the waste from historic uranium mining and milling to hold U.S. government officials to account in a public forum for the government’s failure to address waste from uranium development in any meaningful way.

Witnesses in this week’s hearing came from the Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Oglala Lakota and Havasupai Nations,

Edith Hood and Teracita Keyanna, members of the Red Water Pond Road Community Association, spoke about how for generations the federal government has ignored the public health, environmental and cultural crises uranium development has caused in their communities.  https://swuraniumimpacts.org/red-water-pond-road-community-association/

Yolanda Badback, a member of the White Mesa Concerned Community, spoke about how state and federal officials have refused to listen to their concerns about the uranium mill in their community.  https://protectwhitemesa.org/

Tonia Stands, a member of the Magpie Buffalo Organizing, spoke about the difficulties of living under the threat of new uranium mining, while legacy waste remains unaddressed.  https://www.ienearth.org/iachr-grants-thematic-hearing-on-impacts-to-indigenous-peoples/

Carletta Tilousi. of the Havasupai Tribe Anti-Uranium Subcommittee, provided testimony about the effects of the Pinyon Plain uranium mine located on top of the tribe’s aquifer at the south rim of Grand Canyon in Arizona that began operations in January of this year.   https://www.nhonews.com/news/2024/jan/23/uranium-mining-operations-begin-pinyon-plain-mine/

In addition to community testimony, the U.S. government had the opportunity to respond, and the Commission had the opportunity to ask questions of community members and government officials.

To watch the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearing, go to You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEP4EuEFS5o.  To watch the New Mexico Environmental Law Center post-hearing press conference, go to Instagram https://www.instagram.com/nmelc/.

  1. Friday, March 1, 2024 from noon to 1 pm MT – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the four corners of Alameda and Sandoval in downtown Santa Fe with Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, Loretto Community, Pax Christi, Nonviolent Santa Fe, New Mexico Peace Fests, and others. Join us!



  1. Thursday, February 29 (Leap Year Day) at 5 pm Mountain Time – Warheads to Windmills: Preventing Climate Catastrophe and Nuclear Warhead Webinar on Twin Existential Threats, hosted by Veterans for Peace.  Speakers are:  Ivana Hughes, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and Timmon Wallis, Nuclear Ban:  U.S., Warheads to Windmills.  Registration at https://vfpgoldenruleproject.org/event/warheads-to-windmills-addressing-the-threats-of-climate-and-nuclear-weapons-before-its-too-late/



  1. Tuesday, March 5 at 11 am Mountain Time – Nuclear Survivors: Uranium Mining online discussion. Host:  International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).  Speakers:  Dimity Hawkins (Nuclear Truth Project, ICAN Australia), Myrriah Gómez (University of New Mexico) and Yaroslav Koshelev (Technical University of Berlin)  Registration at https://www.icanw.de/neuigkeiten/online-discussion-uranium-mining/



  1. Wednesday, March 6 to May 15 (Bi- Weekly) from noon to 1 pm Mountain Time – Climate Change and Human Health ECHO Program: Global Nuclear and Environmental Threats Critical to Climate Change and Human Health. 


On March 6th, Robert M. Gould, MD, President of the San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility will present The Global Nuclear Threat and Nuclear Landscapes in the United StatesFor more information and registration:  https://iecho.org/echo-institute-programs/climate-change-and-human-health

  1. Wednesday, March 6th at 6 pm – Santa Fe County Solicits Public Input into Hazard Mitigation Plan. In person meeting at Santa Fe County Fire Station 70, Municipal Way, Edgewood, NM.  Take the survey here:  https://www.santafecountynm.gov/events/detail/hazard-mitigation-plan-update-fire



  1. Thursday, March 7th at 6 pm – Santa Fe County Solicits Public Input into Hazard Mitigation Plan. In person meeting at Santa Fe County Fire Station 50, 17919 U.S. 84/285.  Take the survey here:  https://www.santafecountynm.gov/events/detail/hazard-mitigation-plan-update-fire


  1. Thursday – Friday, March 7 – 8: International Uranium Film Festival at the Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock, AZ.  For more information:  https://uraniumfilmfestival.org/  Schedule:  https://uraniumfilmfestival.org/en/usa-2024   



  1. Wednesday, March 13th – [Comment period extended from Feb. 12th to March 13, 2024.] Comments due about LANL proposed Chromium Interim Measure and “final” Remedy of the Hexavalent Chromium Plume (DOE/EA-2216) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  For more information and to download the document:  https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeea-2216-chromium-interim-measure-and-final-remedy-los-alamos-new-mexico    Check back to CCNS’s website at http://www.nuclearactive.org for sample public comments you can use to craft your own. 



  1. Tuesday, March 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm – in-person and virtual WIPP Community Forum and Open House at Lawrence C. Harris Occupational Technology Center Room, 124 Seminar Room (OTC), Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell, 20 West Mathis. S. Department of Energy (DOE) Carlsbad Field Office and Salado Isolation Mining Contractors (SIMCO) will provide a short update about the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) with an extensive question and answer period.  For more information and registration:  https://wipp.energy.gov/wipp_news_20240215.asp



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