by Amber Schatz
KOTA Territory News
November 15, 2007
"There's no life in the water, we picked up radiation in the water, a river we used to drink out of." That's Charmaine White Face, of Defenders of the Black Hills referring to radioactive contamination in the Cheyenne River.
Just one aquifer four panelists have concerns about due to uranium mining.
From Wyoming, South Dakota, and Colorado, these people hope by joining forces, they can get their word out on the dangers of open pit, and "in situ leach" mining.
"We call on the public and all elected officials to do everything possible to protect the water, land, and local economies from proposed uranium activities." says White Face is a joint statement.
One of the proposed activities in KOTA Territory, renewed uranium mining in Fall River county.
Uranium was mined in this area from the 1950s to the early 1980s, now Powertech uranium corporation is drilling 155 exploratory holes here.
Proposals to mine in Wyoming and Colorado also have people speaking out. Activists say that's because of "in situ leaching" mining, a practice which injects solution into an ore body to leach the uranium out of the rock.
Some believe this practice ruins aquifers, and formations.
"Once an aquifer is contaminated, this has been proven worldwide, you can't fix it, you can monitor it, you can watch how far the contamination is spreading, but you can't fix it." says White Face.
And while they admit a considerable amount of money is going for uranium right now, the four representatives say it simply isn't worth it to lose our natural resources in the long run.
"When you disturb the area, it will have consequences." says Shannon Anderson of Powder River Basin Council.
Consequences they say, wouldn't happen, if we simply left the resource alone.
"When you bring it to the surface and you concentrate it, and you put it in the environment where it can blow around and wash around in water, it does present a hazard that is very clear from historical record." says Lilias Jones Jarding of Coloradoans Against Resource.
A warning, these four hope, will get people to join in their fight.
"The radioactive dust is picked up by wind, lands in surface water and it also lands on crops, animals eat it, we breathe it in, it's a lot more dangerous than people realize." says White Face.