In this podcast, “Uranium: A Toxic Legacy at Red Water Pond Road,” you heard about mines and mills located in remote and impoverished places, where the people do not have political and economic clout to prevent mining companies from polluting or to get the resulting contamination removed. You also heard about the Red Water Pond Road Community, contaminated by two abandoned uranium mines and the largest radioactive waste accident in U.S. history. If you’re interested in reading more about the history, culture and language of the Navajo Nation, health effects of uranium, the Church Rock Tailings Spill of 1979 and other issues discussed in this podcast, we have included additional resources on this page.
The Navajo Nation faces toxic contamination and its community bears the resulting health risks, but during World War II, Navajo Code Talkers created codes to help the U.S. covertly communicate. The official site of the Navajo Nation provides a map of Navajoland, discusses the formation of the Navajo Nation government and elaborates on the Navajo Code Talkers and the Navajo flag.
This podcast also mentions aspects of Navajo culture including the tradition of burying umbilical cords. PBS introduces Navajo spiritual leader Hoskie Benally and explains the Navajo sacred relationship to the land that begins with umbilical cord burial. You can also listen to or read “The Five Sacred Medicines” story about Navajo spirituality and cultural ceremonies.
Want to know more about the Church Rock Tailings Spill of 1979, known as the largest radioactive waste accident in U.S. history? The Office of the State Historian in New Mexico provides an article discussing the tailings spill, the subsequent environmental disaster, human health risks and disputes over continued uranium mining in the area.
What are the health effects of uranium? The EPA provides a graphic of the chemical and radiation effects of uranium on the human body and discusses how Navajo people may come in contact with uranium. The EPA also provides a brief background on how uranium came to Navajo lands, and a five-year plan to clean up uranium in the area.
Reveal News writes about the impact of uranium on people living in the Navajo Nation such as Angie Hood and her family. However, budget reductions at the EPA have made it difficult for uranium mines to be cleaned up, leaving nearby families vulnerable.
A quick guide to the resources listed on this page:
- The official site of the Navajo Nation
- Read more about the Navajo tradition of burying umbilical cords
- Read more about the Church Rock Tailings Spill of 1979
- The EPA describes the health effects of uranium
- The EPA discusses how uranium came to Navajo lands
- Reveal News writes about the impact of uranium on people living in the Navajo Nation
- More on nonprofit Red Water Pond Road Community Association
- Website for the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment