Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

‘Strong Evidence’ Links Uranium Mining to Lung Cancer

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program Left ‘a Horrible Legacy’ of Environmental Destruction and Death Across the Navajo Nation   Inside Climate News,  By Cheyanne M. DanielsAmanda Rooker, June 27, 2021  ”………………….‘Strong Evidence’ Links Uranium Mining to Lung Cancer

Uranium mining began in the Southwest in 1944, when the United States no longer wanted to depend on foreign sourcing of the uranium that was needed for nuclear research and weapons development as part of the Manhattan Project, the secret World War II effort to develop the atomic bomb. The federal government was the sole purchaser of uranium ore until 1971, but private companies operated the mines.

Navajo miners were not fully informed about the dangers of uranium mining specifically, despite the fact that scientists had concluded by the late 1930s that uranium mining caused lung cancer, even if debate existed about exactly why, according to a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Public Health. The miners were not informed about the potential risks of their work.

The investigation focused on white miners, although mortality rates were reported for non-white miners. One study looked at 3,238 white miners, while a second involved 757 non-whites, mainly Navajos. The studies were performed without the consent of the workers. 

In both white and non-white cohorts, “strong evidence” was found for an increased incidence of lung cancer. In the study of 757 non-white miners, 10 deaths were expected, but 34 were documented, meaning researchers found more than three times the number of lung cancer deaths than they expected. 

Tommy Reed, 64, a member of the Navajo Radiation Victims Committee who began working in a uranium mine when he was in high school, said his father was one of the Navajo miners studied. 

“They studied my father and a lot of the men …  and ladies that were in the mines there,” Reed said. “My dad, like many other men that were (miners), spent nine months on a ventilator. How much more of our story can cut deep, where one can comprehend the struggle that we have?”

For Reed, extending the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act isn’t to place blame but to ensure that other miners, uranium workers and downwinders are compensated for illnesses related to radiation exposure. But if he had to place blame, Reed said, he would point to the federal agencies that allowed the mining to take place and the related illnesses to go undiagnosed and untreated. 

“They knew, and they had numbers on them. They studied, it’s on the books, there were human experimentations,” said Reed.

“We’re just five-finger people,” he said, using a Navajo word for human beings. “But these five-finger people are the ones that they relied on, the people that are most expendable.” 

In response to this legacy of environmental destruction, death and racism, the Navajo Nation Council passed the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act in 2005 to mandate that “no further damage to the culture, society and economy of the Navajo Nation occurs because of uranium processing until all adverse economic, environmental and human health effects from past uranium mining” have been eliminated or substantially reduced……………… https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27062021/nuclear-weapons-navajo-nation-uranium-mining-environmental-destruction-health/

June 28, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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