8 WAYS RADIOACTIVE POLLUTION AFFECTS THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS OF THE USA
The Northern Great Plains lie just below the Canada-USA border, and contain the states of Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. Uranium - 238 is a naturally occurring element located in all of these states where it has been mined for almost 50 years to today.
1. Abandoned Uranium Mines and Prospects According to information from the Environmental Protection Agency, 2,885 open pit uranium mines and prospects were dug in MT, WY, ND and SD in the 1950s & 60s. (See Abandoned Mines map at www.defendblackhills.org) An additional 387 were also dug in Northern Colorado The radioactive dust, and water runoff from those abandoned mines and prospects has been spreading throughout the region for the past 50 years causing high levels of cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, miscarriages and diabetes.
2. Abandoned Uranium Exploratory Wells More than 10,000 uranium exploratory well holes, some large enough for a man to fall into, are located in SD, ND, and WY. These holes, 600 - 800 feet deep, were not capped, filled, or even marked. Cross contamination of aquifers with radioactive materials was discovered in studies in 1982.
3. Coal The geology of the Northern Great Plains contains wide expanses of Uranium which is often mixed in coal. The coal laced with Uranium, which is mined in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, is sometimes burned locally, or shipped to power plants in the Eastern and Western parts of the United States. During the strip mining of the coal, radioactive dust and particles are released into the air and carried by the wind through the Northern Great Plains and to the South and Eastern parts of North America. No regulation or monitoring is done of radioactive particles in coal in the USA.
4. Radon Gas Radon gas is a tasteless, odorless, radioactive gas emitted naturally as one of the decay products of Uranium. In areas where uranium has been disturbed such as in mining, radon gas may be emitted in the air, or through contaminated water. Lung cancer can begin when radon gas is breathed by human beings.
5. Current and Planned Uranium Mining In Situ Leach (ISL) mining for uranium is being planned in the southwestern Black Hills in South Dakota by Azarga, a Chinese corporation. Another Uranium company has also been approaching ranchers to secure leases in southwestern SD for future uranium mining. The Crow Butte ISL mine near Crawford, NB, has been operating since the 1990s and is near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This type of mining destroys underground aquifers with radioactive contamination.
6. Radioactive Oil Waste in Western North Dakota The current oil boom in western North Dakota in the Bakken Range is leaving radioactive oil waste being dumped all over the Region. Water runoff from these wastes is causing radioactive pollution of the land, the creeks, and the Missouri River.
7. Abandoned ICBM Missile Silos and Radar Stations from the Cold War Era In the 1950s and 60s, hundreds of missile silos and radar stations were built and operated in the Northern Great Plains. The US Air Force used small nuclear power plants in some of these remote stations to power the equipment. Now, some of these sites are disintegrating, and the US Air Force is still responsible for monitoring the sites. However, there is no way to control the underground radioactive pollution that is beginning to contaminate the aquifers in the region.
8. 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 unintentionally inhaled and/or ingested by the children of that era in North America, who now have high rates of thyroid cancer and thyroid disease.
What can you do? Pick one to dedicate your work to, then make a plan to help stop the radioactive pollution from this source. Educate yourself and others about your choice. Raise funds for research, or other activities. Stop the use