July 16 Commemorative Events in New Mexico

July 9, 2010

July 16th is a historic day in New Mexico because it was the day in 1945 when the first atomic bomb was detonated at the Trinity Site and it was the day in 1979 when the Church Rock Uranium Mill Tailings Spill took place. To commemorate these events, prayer walks, candlelight vigils and community education events will be held.

First, to remember the communities affected by the Church Rock Uranium Mill Tailings Spill 31 years ago, the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment will hold events in the Red Water Pond Road Community. From 7 to 9 am there will be a Prayer Walk on Highway 566 in remembrance of the communities affected by the spill. There will be a Commemoration Proclamation and Reaffirmation of the Navajo Nation's Uranium Mining Ban that was set forth in the Dine' Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005. A luncheon will begin at noon.

On the morning of July 16th, an earthen tailings dam at the United Nuclear Corporation Church Rock Uranium Mill failed, spilling large amounts of liquid radioactive waste into the Puerco River in New Mexico, which eventually flowed downstream into Arizona. The Church Rock spill is second only to the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown for the amount of radiation released from an accident.

The spill contributed to the long-term contamination already present in the watershed from the release of untreated or poorly treated uranium mine water into the Puerco River. The commemorative event serves as a reminder that the Dine' communities throughout the area still carry the burden of the uranium legacy to this day.

For more information, contact Teddy Nez at 505 879-2910.

Second, the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium and Las Mujeres Hablan will hold a statewide gathering in Tularosa in support and remembrance of those who were exposed to the radiation released from the detonation of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Test Site, near Socorro.

On Friday, July 16, the Consortium will hold a candlelight vigil from 8 to 10 pm for those who have lost loved ones to cancer or are cancer survivors.

On Saturday, July 17, the Consortium and Las Mujeres Hablan will hold an all day community gathering at the Tularosa Community Center, beginning at 9 am. Participants will have the opportunity to share their memories of the Trinity Test. They will learn also about the amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, proposed by Senator Udall, which would cover those exposed to radiation from the Trinity Test. http://tomudall.senate.gov/?p=video&id=484

For more information, please contact Tina Cordova at 505 897-6838.

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