Residents of McKinley County in northwestern New Mexico have long complained of health problems associated with uranium mining. A new study looks at the health impacts the uranium mining industry may have caused there.
Nearly 100 of the 520 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land are in McKinley County. That area is also home to the decades-old Church Rock Tailings Spill, one of the worst radioactive disasters in American history.
The study, which was funded by the Santa Fe Community Foundation and the New Mexico Health Equity Partnership, found McKinley County residents have higher rates of certain cancers than the rest of New Mexico, and that cancer rates are especially high among Native American populations. It also suggests living near uranium mines can lead to heart and kidney disease, and immune system dysfunction.
McKinley County commissioners have supported further uranium mining, but researchers for the health impact assessment are calling for a moratorium on future mining as a first step towards improving the health situation there.