Navajos Observe 30th Anniversary of Uranium Spill

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CHURCH ROCK, N.M.—Community members and environmental activists commemorated July 16 as the 30th anniversary of a massive uranium tailings spill that Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. called “the largest peacetime accidental release of radioactive contaminated materials in the history of the United States.”

The accident occurred when an earthen dam, operated by the United Nuclear Corp., failed and let loose 94 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the north fork of the Rio Puerco on Navajo Nation lands. Within days, contaminated tailings liquid was found 50 miles downstream in Arizona.

About 100 Navajos and non-Navajos, including members of the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) and other environmental groups, walked a five-mile stretch through the remote mesa lands of Church Rock to the site of the July 16, 1979 spill. They stopped at Larry King’s ranch along New Mexico Highway 566 for a speech by the Navajo president.

http://www.reznetnews.org/article/navajos-observe-30th-anniversary-uranium-spill-36890