Home Campaigns Uranium Report of Radioactive Pollution in the State's Water

Report of Radioactive Pollution in the State's Water

"Uranium activity as far south as Yankton"

Rapid City, SD-- For the past five years, Defenders of the Black Hills, an environmental organization, has been quietly conducting water tests on rivers in the Region. Now their information is compiled in a report being sent to the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association and mayors from towns along the Missouri River.

Although not an extensive account, due to the high cost of getting an analysis on uranium and other radioactive emissions, the purpose is to show the need for more research on all drinking water sources in order to protect the public.

Starting with communities along the Grand River in the northern part of the state, the report shows radioactive pollution entering the Missouri River at the mouth of the Grand River. Following that path to the Lower Brule Reservation, the tests also show radioactive contamination in household drinking water. In Yankton, the results taken from the Municipal Building, show the uranium is coming from man-made sources.

In the western part of the state, nearer to past uranium mining sites, Angostura Reservoir shows high incidences of Thorium, a radioactive decay product of Uranium. In 2006, the SD Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported uranium exceeding the drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level was entering the Cheyenne River at the South Dakota - Wyoming border which would flow into the Angostura Reservoir. Although not used for drinking water purposes, the radioactivity can enter human bodies when swimming, boating, or also from breathing radon gas in the water, another decay product further down the chain from Thorium. Many old and current uranium mining sites are near the headwaters of the Cheyenne River in Wyoming. The Cheyenne River also empties into the Missouri River.

Although radioactive pollution is appearing in the water samples taken on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the water source is not from a river but from deep, underground wells. The entire Northern Plains region has naturally occurring uranium which can contaminate well water.

As Defenders of the Black Hills is a non-profit, 501(c)3. Corporation, the water analysis were funded by donations. The report is available to the public for copying and postage costs. PDF documents below


For more information, contact Charmaine White Face, Coordinator at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

No Safe Dose

Water Report 3-2011

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