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7 Ways Radioactivity affects South Dakota


1. Above Ground Detonations of Atomic Bombs in the Southwest

According to the National Cancer Institute, during the above ground detonations of atomic bombs in Nevada from 1951-1963, the radioactive fallout was spread throughout the United Sates and Canada. (See the Above Ground Detonation map at www.defendblackhills.org ) One of the radioactive contaminants, Iodine-131, was inhaled and/or ingested by the most sensitive population, the children of that era. Today, those children who are now adults have a high incidence of thyroid cancer and thyroid disease.

A. The first diagnostic test for thyroid cancer is a simple blood test. The symptoms of thyroid cancer are so subtle you might not know you have it. Ask your doctor for a thyroid test.
B. Contact your Congressional delegation, Senators Johnson and Thune, and Representative Herseth, and ask them to support the expansion of the Radiation and Exposure Compensation Act, also known as RECA, to include all people across the United States who have been harmed by the radioactive fallout from the Above Ground Detonations of Atomic Bombs in the Southwest.
2. Abandoned Uranium Mines and Prospects

In the late 1960s and 70s, when the price of uranium was high, it is estimated that more than 1,000 uranium mines and prospects were dug in the Upper Midwestern states of Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota. When the price for uranium dropped in the 70s, these places were abandoned. (See Abandoned Mines map from USFS.) The radioactive dust, gases and water runoff from these abandoned mines and prospects has been spreading throughout the region, the Bread Basket of the world, for the past 35 to 40 years. Radioactive dust, gases and water are also carried further East and South.

It is imperative that a federal bill be passed in Congress appropriating enough funds for the cleanup of ALL the abandoned uranium mines in the region immediately, and that those harmed be given assistance. This dangerous situation cannot be placed on the end of the Superfund list of hazardous sites to be addressed in twenty years. Those responsible must be held accountable, but the cleanup and health concerns need to be addressed now.
A. Contact your Congressional Representative and Senators by phone (202) 224-3121, through the mail, and email. Ask that they consider sponsoring a bill for the cleanup of all the abandoned uranium mines and prospects in the Upper Midwest Region of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. The Senators and Congressmen from all the states must be made aware of what is happening in the center of the nation.
B. Ask your Congressional delegation to support the expansion of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) also to include all the people harmed by abandoned uranium mines and prospects in the Upper Midwest Region.
3. Abandoned Uranium Exploratory Wells

More than 4,000 uranium exploratory well holes, some large enough for a man to fall into, are located in the southwestern Black Hills with an additional 3,000 holes in Wyoming, just 10 miles west of the town of Belle Fourche, SD. These holes go to depths of 600 - 800 feet and most were not capped, filled, or even marked. Cross contamination of radioactive materials to underground water sources (aquifers) is the primary concern as no capping, or filling of the well holes occurred. More exploratory well holes for uranium are in the planning stages or currently being drilled in Wyoming and South Dakota.
A. Get a test for uranium and radioactivity on your own personal water source. The test is simple and the equipment can be obtained from laboratories who conduct such tests. The costs range from $200-$300 and results return in about 3 weeks. If radioactivity is found, immediately change your drinking water source. The source of the radiation must be found.
B. If you receive water from your city or town, ask your municipal government to conduct such a test. Most local, county, state, and tribal governments do not routinely test for radioactivity. If you are not satisfied with their response, or wish to confirm their results, testing your own water source would be the next step.
C. Capping and cleanup of these abandoned wells must occur for the safety and health of the general public. Contact your state and Congressional delegates by phone, through the mail, and email. Ask that they sponsor bills at the state and federal levels for the cleanup of all the abandoned uranium exploratory wells in South Dakota and Wyoming. Also, contact the Senators and Congressmen from other states notifying them of what is happening in the center of the nation so they may support the cleanup of all nuclear contamination in this Region.
4. Abandoned ICBM Missile Silos and Radar Stations from the Cold War Era
In the 1950s, hundreds of missile silos and radar stations were built and manned in the Upper Midwestern United States. The US Air Force used small nuclear power plants in some of the remote radar stations to power the equipment. According to an AP story published in the June 11, 2005, Rapid City Journal, "A nuclear reactor powered the [Warren Peak radar] station" which leaked cesium-137 underground. The US Air Force is still responsible for monitoring the sites although there is no way to control the underground radioactive pollution that could be contaminating aquifers in the region. The water for most municipal, agriculture and domestic use in the Region comes from wells drilled into aquifers.
The United States military needs to inform the public of the status of any radioactive sources used in the Region, and the disposal of the radioactive wastes for the past 50 years. This is an issue of national security in that the health and safety of the people living in the Region must be insured to be free from pollution by nuclear radiation. As tourism is a large industry in this area, the health of the general public of the nation must be considered. Contact your Congressional delegates and demand an investigation by an independent research entity into this matter including research on the status of nuclear radioactivity in all of the Regions' aquifers.
5. Coal

The geology of the upper Midwestern Region shows that the area contains wide expanses of uranium which is often mixed in coal. The coal laced with uranium, which is mined in North Dakota and Wyoming, is sometimes burned locally, or shipped to power plants in the Eastern and Western parts of the United States. Radioactive dust and particles are released into the air at the coal-fired power plants and often set off the warning systems of nuclear power plants located downwind. Also, during the actual process of strip mining the coal, radioactive dust and particles are released into the air and carried by the wind through the Midwest to the South and East Coasts of the United States.
A. The air surrounding all locations of surface mining of coal in the Region must be monitored for radioactive particles emission and the results made available to the public.
B. Local, state, and federal ordinances regarding Clean Air must be implemented to insure the public is protected from this form of nuclear radioactive pollution. Contact your mayor, city and county commissioners to determine if your area has Clean Air ordinances specifically for nuclear radioactive pollution. If not, actively support the immediate passage of Clean Air ordinances for your area to stop the air pollution of radioactive particles with strong penalties for those violating such ordinances.
C. If you live in an area where coal is burned in a power plant, actively support local and state and federal ordinances on Clean Air.
D. Advocate for the regulation of radioactive materials from coal fired power plants. Currently there is no regulation.
E. Contact your mayor, city and county commissioners to determine if your area has Clean Air ordinances specifically for nuclear radioactive pollution. If not, actively support the immediate passage of Clean Air ordinances for your area to stop the air pollution of radioactive particles with strong penalties for those violating such ordinances.
6. Radon Gas
Radon gas is a tasteless, odorless, radioactive gas emitted naturally from Radium 222, one of the decay products of Uranium. In areas where uranium has been disturbed, whether in digging a foundation for a house or in the natural movements of the Earth, radon gas may be emitted in the air, or through contaminated water. Lung cancer can begin when radon gas is breathed by human beings.
A. Tests for radon gas are inexpensive and testing companies can be found in the businesses section of the phone book. Test your home for radon gas. If found, ask the testing company for ways to remove the gas.
B. Consider the source of the gas. Is it in the water entering your home, or in a crack in the foundation, or some other source? By tracing the source, it is possible the cause may be eliminated.
7. Current and Planned Uranium Mining
The decay products of naturally occurring uranium (U-238) are just as radioactive if not more than U-238 itself. When these decay products are disturbed in any way, whether in solid ground, or trapped in an aquifer, they begin their unstoppable, expanding radioactive processes. Yet, armed with this knowledge, uranium mining companies and governments continue to plan for new ways to mine uranium in the Upper Midwest.
Denmark and Austria are nuclear free countries relying on renewable sources for their energy needs: wind, biofuels, and solar. Many other countries in Europe are considering this path for future energy needs and to protect their populations and environments from radioactive contamination.
South Dakota has been called the Saudi Arabia of wind because there is so much. Yet, this clean, constant, and most economical form of energy is not being used to its fullest.
A. Urge your local governments, city and county, to declare your areas to be nuclear-free.
B. Encourage your state to declare itself nuclear free and to begin expansion of renewable energy projects. Wind has been proven in Europe to be the most economical and South Dakota has a wealth of wind.
C. Encourage your Congressional delegation to pass laws that provide incentives for renewable energy development and use now. Currently, the amount of research and studies on renewable resources are more than abundant. The time for action is NOW.
D. Encourage your Congressional delegation to pass a Resolution declaring the United States to be nuclear-free. Western Europe is acutely aware of the problems of uranium mining, nuclear power plants, and radioactive contamination, and is fifty years ahead of the United States in solving these problems. It is time to stop the radioactive contamination of the people, the land, water, and environment of the United States.
Thank you.

Mission Statement

"Defenders of the Black Hills is a group of volunteers without racial or tribal boundaries whose mission is to preserve, protect, and restore the environment of the 1851 and 1868 Treaty Territories, Treaties made between the United States and the Great Sioux Nation."

Speaking about radioactive fallout, the late President John F. Kennedy said,

"Even then, the number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby who may be born long after we are gone, should be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward which we can be indifferent."

July 26, 1963 upon signing the ban on above ground nuclear tests