Churchrock uranium spill

Jan 4, 2019
On July 16, 1979  the Churchrock uranium mill tailings pond failed, spilling 1,000 tons of solid radioactive mill waste. 93 million gallons of acidic, radioactive tailings solution flowed into the Puerco River and downstream onto the Navajo Nation. To this day the spill is the largest release of radioactive material in U.S. history, but the accident received little media attention and poor cleanup response from the federal government.
The Navajo population in the area has suffered from serious health effects associated with exposure to high levels of radioactive contamination. Uranium contamination is a continuous issue on Navajo Nation land and unfortunately this spill and the government's response to it were not isolated incidents.
A report by NRDC states that "For decades the Navajo Nation has been especially affected by boom-and-bust uranium mining. On Navajo land alone, nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from 1944 to 1986; left behind were more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, four inactive uranium milling sites, a former dump site, and the widespread contamination of land and water. Only recently has the government attempted to assess and mitigate this contamination, but full reclamation of the land is unlikely."
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