Tag Archives: Uranium Transport

Forgotten People/WWU Participatory Mapping Project wins runner-up in a EPA Apps for Environment Challenge

http://myweb.students.wwu.edu/%7Esabier/ForgottenPeople/ Please check it out: Forgotten People/WWU Participatory Mapping Project wins runner-up in a EPA Apps for Environment Challenge thanks to Robert Sabie and Professor Troy Abel, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University. The interactive maps shows the proximity of abandoned uranium mines to water sources in the Navajo Nation, a proposed uranium haul route through the Navajo Nation. If you click on the icon on the header, you can search the various layers. The EJ Participatory Mapping app will be recognized at the Apps for the Environment Forum on November 8, 2011 in Arlington, VA www.epa.gov/appsfortheenvironment/forum.htm

10/11/2011 Gallup Independent: Navajo hopes to regulate uranium ore transport

10/11/2011 Navajo hopes to regulate uranium ore transport By Kathy Helms Gallup Independent, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – A resolution opposing the transport of uranium ore and product across the Navajo Nation, with the exception of hauling legacy waste to a disposal facility outside Navajo Indian Country, has been approved by the Law and Order Committee and is making its way to the Navajo Nation Council. The resolution sponsored by Delegate Duane Tsinigine of Bodaway/Gap would amend the Navajo Nation Code to regulate the activity of non-Navajos on publicly granted rights of way across Navajo land. “This is mainly regarding the health and welfare of the Navajo Nation, bottom line. It’s a protection act,” Tsinigine said.

Cold War-era uranium mining left a legacy of radiological contamination and sickness on the Navajo Nation. Now, ore from Denison Mines north of the Grand Canyon is being trucked to the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah, and on the New Mexico side of the reservation, there also is the prospect of future uranium mining.

“There is transporting of uranium going across Navajo land without much enforcement. This will bring the enforcement,” Tsinigine said.

The Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency and the Division of Public Safety, subject to approval of the Resources and Development Committee, would develop regulations necessary to implement the intent of the law, such as designating reasonable license fees, bonding requirements, curfews, and route restrictions for the product being transported across the Navajo Nation.

Greg Kelly, an attorney with the Navajo Department of Justice’s Natural Resources Unit, helped redraft the resolution to avoid conflicts with federal law. The original resolution was introduced during the 21st Council by Delegate Thomas Walker Jr., and reintroduced by Tsinigine in May with modifications.

When Tsinigine’s resolution initially went through DOJ, they flagged four issues, Kelly said. “One of those issues is that there is uranium byproduct on Navajo trust lands that we want to be able to transport and dispose of and get off of Navajo Nation trust property. So the legislation needed to be changed to reflect that that would be a permissible transport.

“Second, we did not want to be seen necessarily as ceding our jurisdiction,” he said. “The way that the legislation was drafted at the time suggested that our jurisdiction over non-Indians on the Navajo Nation was limited by case law. We wanted to put it forth in a positive way in which we have jurisdiction over non-Indians when the health, welfare and safety of the Navajo people are at issue.”

In addition, transportation of hazardous substances, including uranium, is fully preempted by the federal government and federal law. “In order to at least withstand litigation over legislation, we have to tailor our legislation to be within the federal requirements,” Kelly said.

Though the resolution as drafted calls for advance notice of 120 days by any carrier of uranium ore or product, that requirement conflicts with federal regulations, which stipulate seven-day advance notice to a governor in writing, or four days actual notice in advance. Kelly recommended that language be changed to conform with federal law.

“The reason we reference the state governor and local law enforcement officials is because that’s what the federal regulations do,” he said. “They require that states get notified, but not tribes … and as little as four days’ notice is legally permissible. If we have a 120 day requirement, I’m pretty confident that would not stand should anybody challenge that in court.”

Chairman Edmund Yazzie had questions regarding Eastern Navajo Agency. “On the Arizona side it’s strictly 100 percent Navajo Reservation, Navajo land. Now when you think of the eastern side, you have your checkerboard area,” he said, which is multi-jurisdictional, particularly in areas such as Churchrock, Mariano Lake and Pinedale.

“I do support this legislation because there have been threats in the Churchrock area, saying that they’re going to come on and get some more uranium. The people said no and the Nation said no,” Yazzie said. “If a non-Indian rolls three semis in, and they start shipping the uranium, how much jurisdiction does that give our Navajo Nation Police? We need to give the local law enforcement authority also to stop these trucks.”

By promulgating regulations, Kelly said, Navajo could designate which officials must be notified by transporters in lieu of a governor or particular law enforcement official. “My understanding is that as part of the permitting process for these transporters, they have to give notice to whoever is on file with the federal agency that’s permitting them,” he said.

“I think we could address the jurisdiction issue in Eastern Agency simply by saying, ‘It’s Navajo Indian Country, federal agency. Here’s the people that we want to have notified, and you have that obligation.’ We can’t necessarily ensure that they will follow through on that, but I think they would.”

Law and Order’s Alton Shepherd recommended notification be given to the Nation’s president, local law enforcement and Navajo EPA. He also offered an amendment to strike the ‘no less than 120 days’ notice where it appears in the resolution, which was approved by the committee.

Revised map of the proposed uranium transport routes through the Navajo Nation

Please check out the revised map of the proposed uranium transport routes through the Navajo Nation to the White Mesa mill in Blanding, UT.

6/11/2011 Forgotten People – Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University Mapping Project

Forgotten People – Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University Mapping Project: Please check out the links for maps showing proposed uranium haul       routes from the Grand Canyon thru the Navajo Nation AND a map showing the proximity of abandoned uranium mines to water sources. Huxley College, WWU rocks!                     Forgotten People-Huxley College Mapping Project.