|Highly Toxic Uranium Mine in Cameron, AZ (New York Times 3/31/12)|
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to go for a walk with my friend Jeff who lives on the Navajo Reservation. His home, an Airstream parked across from the Cameron Trading Post, sits near the Little Colorado River in Cameron, Arizona. So that's where we hiked: into the river drainage and then up a small canyon passing iron-colored cliffs stained here and there by chartreuse traces of uranium.
|Uranium deposit along Little Colorado River|
The EPA says the reason clean up has been so slow—only 34 structures and 12 residential yards have been selected for remediation—has to do with money. There is not enough of it. And because most of the mining companies that made this toxic mess are long gone, it is we, the taxpayers that must foot the bill. Which, of course, we should do. To see this land is to see the indifference of America, it's callous, self-serving, greed-infected side. The side that treats people like cogs in a machine, and treats machines as if it were gods. In the Navajo situation, the machine was the cold-war's military industrial complex. We needed uranium for bombs, and we, the US Government, "were willing to do anything to get it," according to LA Times Reporter Judy Pasternak in her important work Yellow Dirt.
What was left behind by this uranium-rush was a land, is a land, pock-marked by an insidious toxin. Yellow dirt has been used to make sidewalks and buildings on the Navajo nation. Homes were constructed next to mines, many of them built from slag. The wind is strong on the reservation, there are no trees to block its path, few shrubs or grasses. Meaning, that when those winds pick up, they pick up uranium dust, then deposit that dust on rivers and streams and houses and cars and toys and food and babies’ hands and feet. It lands on chapped and cracked lips which must be licked because the air is so dry.
|Navajo Trading Post on Hwy 64, Arizona|
-Naseem Rakha 2/19/13