Diné-Navajo tribe member Larry J. King remembers when the Church Rock Dam burst near his home in New Mexico, releasing a tidal wave of radioactive water into his community. It was 1979, and the spill ended up being the largest release of radioactive material ever in America.
Now another kind of radioactive disaster is poised to happen in Church Rock. The Environmental Protection Agency just gave permission to a mining company to start mining for uranium in the same place as the dam spill -- and they'll do it using a method that could permanently contaminate drinking water for Church Rock's 15,000 residents, including Larry and his family.
"Now, our water is pure enough to drink straight from the ground," says Larry. After watching community members suffer from health issues related to the 1979 radioactive disaster, he's not standing by to let uranium mining destroy the land and lives of a new generation.
Larry started a petition on Change.org calling on the EPA to stop uranium mining in his community of Church Rock, NM and save his community's water supply. Click here to sign Larry's petition now.
After the dam disaster, the EPA cleaned up the waste, but the effects are still hurting Larry's community. Studies show that their cancer rate is 17 times the national average. And other Native American communities suffer the same, because of abandoned mines and other radioactive waste. It's why the Navajo Nation actually banned uranium mining in the 1990s.
But Church Rock -- where the mining company wants to mine new uranium -- lies just outside of the Navajo Nation's jurisdiction, meaning only the EPA can give, or block, permission to mine for uranium.
For Larry, the scariest part of the new mining plans is how they plan to do it: the company will carry uranium to the surface mixed with groundwater. This is the same water Larry and his community rely on for drinking water, and which opponents say will never be as clean as it was after being used in this kind of mining.
Massive public outcry has reversed disturbing industry practices made possible by government agencies -- like a recent victory by a blogger in Houston who stopped the USDA from feeding "pink slime" to kids in their school lunches. A national outpouring might convince the EPA to do the same in Church Rock, saving Larry's drinking water and his community's health.
Click to join Larry J. King in telling the EPA to revoke its permit to mine for uranium in Native American community Church Rock, NM.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Emilia and the Change.org team