89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Volunteers Go Door-To-Door To Alert Navajos About Spill

Marisa Demarco / KUNM
Caution tape strung tree-to-tree on the San Juan riverbank in Shiprock

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Not everyone on the Navajo Nation had heard about the Gold King Mine spill that happened more than a week ago, even though they might live along the San Juan River.

Henry Silentman is a spokesperson for the Incident Command Center in Shiprock. "Some of the older people, they didn’t know about the river spill," he said. "A lot of the people are devastated that their livelihood is contaminated."

The Navajo government set up three command centers on the reservation. And the first order of business? Awareness. Volunteers are going door-to-door, speaking in both Navajo and English, to inform people living along the San Juan about the spill.

Silentman said they’re trying to make sure people know not to go in the river or allow any animals to drink the water, especially since the discoloration upstream was not as prevalent in other areas. "We do mention that even if the color hasn’t changed, the water’s still bad," he said, "and inform them that there are heavy metals within the water."

Silentman said many people are devastated when they learn the news because they depend so heavily on the river.

A Region 9 representative said the Environmental Protection Agency expects to release results from tests conducted on the Navajo Nation on Saturday, Aug. 14—10 days after the spill.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
Related Content