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March 2013 Quarterly Newsletter

 

P. O. Box 2003,   Rapid City, SD 57709

Hello Defenders,

We had a great meeting on Saturday, March 16th, with lots of discussion, the raffle drawing, and a full table of food for the pot luck meal. The following were the items on the agenda.

1.   National Guard and the National Grasslands

YEAA!!  We succeeded for another year, at least, in stopping the South Dakota National Guard soldiers from going into the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.  We were concerned for their health and safety as naturally occurring uranium is at or very near the surface.  Charmaine explained all that had happened and it wasn’t as simple as the newspaper article stated. (If anyone wishes a copy of the newspaper article, please see the list of handouts at the end of this newsletter.)  Nevertheless, we are very happy the soldiers are safe for this year, 2013, at least.

However, that is only for this year.  In order to protect them for next year, Mary Jo and Sylvia agreed to Co-coordinate additional efforts such as informing the entire state of our concerns, and looking into possible legislation for next year’s session in 2014. Thank you Mary Jo and Sylvia.

2.  Uranium Update

Powertech Uranium Mining Company -- The SD Water Commission hearings on the two permits that Powertech wants will occur in October.  Thanks to all those who intervened, 292 interveners all total.  In addition, Charmaine was informed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office that they will be getting a restraining order on Powertech from going into the Dewey-Burdock area as it is a Traditional Cultural Property that needs to be protected.  Per one of Defenders’ unwritten rules, and with the Board’s approval, when there are many others involved in an issue, the organization quietly goes on to something else.  Much discussion followed.

Federal Bill --Defenders’ is currently beginning a new campaign for the passage of a federal bill called the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act, for cleanup of the thousands of abandoned uranium mines in the Region.  The bill was drafted by our Treasurer, Brian Brademeyer, and was sent in a previous newsletter.  Environmental law professor, Dr. Brandon Brygider, further tweaked the draft bill. Anyone wishing a copy, please call or write to the above address.

Peace Walk in New England & Washington, DC -- In order to get sponsors for the Federal bill, Charmaine gave a presentation in Chicago in December.  At that time she met Sister Clare, and Buddhist nun, and Tim, the organizer for the New England Peace Pagoda’s 12th Annual Peace Walk.  This year’s theme is “For the People, for the Earth.”  They invited Charmaine to join them in New England and she gave presentations each night for ten nights about the abandoned uranium mines and the need for Congressional sponsors. A delegation from Defenders will join the Peace Walkers in Washington, DC, for the final 4 days of the walk and events.

Films”  “America’s Chernobyl” and “Hot Water” --  An offshoot of the Walk was a film, shot by one of the young walkers.  Although not movie theater quality, the film covers one of Charmaine’s presentations called “America’s Chernobyl.”  Anyone wishing a copy, please send $5 for postage, and mail it to the above address.

A few years ago, a film crew from Hollywood came to our Territory and began filming about all the uranium issues.  Some of you were interviewed, and might remember, the film was to be called “Dark Water.”  As sometimes happens, there was a breakup in the original crew, but filming continued about the uranium in the water all over the world.  Now called “Hot Water”, the film made it’s premier in Washington, DC, on March 13th, but covers more than our issues here in the Northern Great Plains.  However, Charmaine is working with the original writer to get the original concept of the film finally accomplished.  We will let you know as soon as we are able to obtain a copy of "Hot Water", as they do not have a distributor yet.

3.  Keystone XL Pipeline -- For the past year, articles have been written about the trains that are hauling oil out of North Dakota.  Some people also believe that President Obama is delaying approval of the Keystone Pipeline while waiting for the railroads to build enough oil tanker trains to haul the oil from Canada.  A new track is planned on being built from Billings through Ashland, MT, to hook up with other railroad lines that are currently hauling coal south, west and east.  An article was available and anyone wishing a copy, please let us know.  Although the trains would increase the carbon in the atmosphere, they appear to be safer than the pipeline.

Secondly, the Board has been in a conversation about a restraining order on the State Department from entering the Treaty territory. Charmaine explained the procedure as it is in the Defenders’ mission statement to protect the Treaty territory.  Discussion followed and everyone in attendance thought it was a good idea.

4.  NEW  DANGER      ND Oil Waste is RADIOACTIVE  --  Dennis Kost

Dennis and Betty Kost came all the way from Washburn, ND, to attend the meeting to warn us of the newest threat to our environment, the water, and the air: oil waste from all the oil wells in the Bakken Range.  Filter socks screen the mud and other stuff coming out of the oil wells, but the waste is highly radioactive.  The oil companies are supposed to dispose of these in an approved place for nuclear waste.  The closest place is Colorado, and it costs about $20,000 every time a load is taken there.  So, only 20% of the oil waste is reaching Colorado, and the other 80% is being dumped all over western North Dakota.

Dennis came to warn everyone that this could happen in South Dakota, especially on the reservations or anywhere were there are isolated places.  A news article in the Bismarck Tribune showed angry members of the Three Affiliated Tribes who were protesting this radioactive oil waste which is already being dumped on their reservation. The oil waste manager is in partnership with the local sheriff and said he would have to talk to him first before they decided what to do.

The state of North Dakota is not monitoring this, but giving approval, and all the local zoning laws are being changed to accommodate the oil well companies.  National Geographic and Harpers’ Magazine have maps and information. “No one is talking about the Missouri River drying up,” Dennis said, “ and we’re in a drought.”   The fracking that is being done to get the oil requires great amounts of water.  What is that going to do to the rest of the Region, the Missouri and eventually the Mississippi Rivers?  An environmental disaster is occurring as this is being written.

Everyone needs to write to President Obama and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency demanding an investigation and stopping this disaster.  Everyone needs to let major media know what is happening in the middle of the country.  The Tribal Councils also need to be warned about what is happening and that no oil waste should be dumped on the reservations due to their radioactivity.  Please help stop this environmental disaster!

5.  Other:    Gary Heckenliable, ACTion for the Environment --  Gary spoke about another SUCCESS.  ACTion got part of the water back to Spearfish Creek from a diversion by the state that gave too much water to the city of Spearfish.  Spearfish Canyon Gold mine has been delayed until next Fall, however, plans for new gold mining are slated for the middle of the town of Keystone, and near Rochford.

6.  Raffle Drawing --  Names were drawn in our annual Raffle by Tim Standing Soldier, who had not bought a raffle ticket.  Prizes included Art work: paintings, pen and ink drawings, and a poster, all framed; and jewelry pieces.

The winners were Manfred Werner, Mary Jo Farrington, Karen Ellison, Shirley Lautenschlager, Bruce Ellison, Loretta Bad Heart Bull, Lilias Jarding, Sandra Little Woodard, Ike Werner, Betty Kost, Jim Peterson, Rich Drager, Dennis Kost, and Gwen Herman.

Numerous items were donated by Bill Swift Hawk, Connie and Laverne Fast Horse, Sylvia Lambert, and Sandra Little Woodard.  Proceeds are used for the general operations of Defenders of the Black Hills, a non-profit, environmental corporation.

7.  Next Meeting:  Tentatively June 15, 2013

Submitted by Charmaine White Face, Coordinator

 


 

The following were handouts available at the meeting.  If you would like a copy, please write to the above address. Thank you.

“Guard delays training plans” - Rapid City Journal, Feb. 14, 2013

Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act

Uranium, Radioactivity and the Great Sioux Nation

“State Dept.: No Major objections to pipeline” - Rapid City Journal, March 2, 2013

Form letter to President Barack Obama about the Keystone XL Pipeline

“Buffett’s Burlington Northern Among Pipeline Winners” - Jan. 23, 2012,  Bloomberg.net

“DM&E rail line for sale” - Rapid City Journal, March 12, 2013

Nuclear Information Resource Service, Types of radiation

Radioactive Decay Chain of Uranium 238

Madison Aquifer, Written by Arden D. Davis, Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, SDSM&T, Rapid City, SD. 1995

 


 

“The radiation levels in parts I visited with my students were higher than those in the evacuated zones around the Fukushima nuclear disaster…”

(talking about her visit to northwestern South Dakota)

Dr. K. Kearfott, Ph. D., Nuclear Physics Professor, University of Michigan

 


"Hope has nothing to do with success. One acts in hope simply because it is the right thing to do.  Having said that, one never knows when these lightly noticed acts will manifest into a movement. The movement starts when change appears possible. But the seeds for the movement are planted by those who hold out hope for change even when such change seems beyond our grasp. Without hope, there is no vision. And without vision, the future looks pretty bleak.”

 

—Sister Denise and Brother Utsumi, Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order

 

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

 

 

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