KUNM

mining

Ed Williams / KUNM

As the U.S. prepared to detonate the first atomic bomb in New Mexico in the ’40s, the federal government sought uranium on Navajo land. Decades later, hundreds of mines still haven’t been contained, and the health impacts are severe and sometimes fatal. New research is showing some babies there are being born with the radioactive metal in their bodies. Chief Medical Officer of Navajo Area Indian Health Service Dr. Loretta Christensen spoke with KUNM about the study and what researchers are finding so far.

Let's Talk Protecting Endangered Species

Aug 27, 2019
Larry Lamsa via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Let's Talk New Mexico 8/29 8a: The Trump Administration recently changed Endangered Species Act regulations affecting how species are removed from endangered status and streamlining permits for the oil and gas and ranching industries. Environmentalists say the rules weaken protections. How could the new rules change industry and conservation in New Mexico? We want to hear from you! Do you work in oil and natural gas, mining, or outdoor recreation? How do endangered species affect your livelihood? Are you concerned about the future of endangered species? Email LetsTalk@KUNM.org, or call live during the show.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

When the oil and gas industry takes a dive, or when extractive industries tank, so do economies in rural areas, where a lot of the jobs come from drilling, or mining, or power plants. A business incubator is helping entrepreneurs on the Navajo Nation with the idea that local skills and talents—and cash flowing in and out of local businesses—are key to independence from environmentally damaging corporations. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Oil and gas drilling and mining companies come to rural areas offering jobs and cash, but they also dig into the land, pull resources out of it and create pollution. There are some folks in these regions who say the trade off isn’t fair in the long run. One organization is working on the Navajo Nation to stabilize the boom-and-bust economy of extraction by boosting local entrepreneurs and small business.

EPA: River Is Bouncing Back

Aug 12, 2015
Clyde Frogg via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons License

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered agency offices nationwide to stop field investigation work for mine cleanups while they reassess the work to ensure there's no potential for spills similar to the one in Colorado.

Private Well Owners Making Do

Aug 11, 2015
Rita Daniels/KUNM

The first results from tests of the water in northwestern New Mexico contaminated by the Gold King Mine spill are expected on Wednesday. 

Rita Daniels

KUNM Call In Show 8/13 8a:

Governor Susana Martinez has declared a state of emergency after the Environmental Protection Agency caused a massive spill of mine waste that has contaminated rivers in New Mexico and Colorado. We'll take a look at the Gold King Mine Spill: what does the pollution mean for communities, wildlife, and the watershed? 

Governor Martinez Declares State Of Emergency For River Spill

Aug 10, 2015
Environmental Protection Agency

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declared an emergency that frees up state funds to address a massive spill of wastewater from a Colorado mine into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

Sascha Bruck via Wikimedia / Creative Commons License

Pollution of the Animas River was going on for over 100 years before gold and silver mining died down near Silverton, Colorado in the 1990s. So the recent 3 million gallon spill isn’t the first time the Animas River has been contaminated with mine waste.

Jonathan Thompson / High Country News

Farmington has shut off drinking water pumps from the San Juan River after about a million gallons of contaminated water from a mine spilled into the watershed upstream.

Ed Williams

During the Cold War, the Navajo Nation found itself in the middle of a uranium mining boom. Today, more than 500 mines on the reservation are shut down or abandoned—but the pollution they left behind is still very much there. 

Group Studies Health Impacts Of Uranium Mining

Jun 17, 2015
Looking Within Report

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 Lingering Legacy Of Uranium Mining

Jun 16, 2015
US EPA

KUNM Call In Show 6/18 8a: 

There are well over 100 abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico, and most of them are on Navajo land. Many communities are still dealing with the health and environmental consequences of uranium contamination from mines that haven’t been cleaned up.

What has uranium mining meant for your community? What should the state, tribal and federal governments be doing to fix the problem?

We’ll be asking those questions this week and we'd like to hear from you! Email callinshow@kunm.org, post comments online or call in live during the show.  

Group Challenges Copper Mine Pollution Law

May 11, 2015
Geologue via Flickr

An environmental law firm in Santa Fe is petitioning the state Supreme Court to overturn a law that allows copper mines to pollute groundwater. 

As the law stands, companies can allow toxic drainage to seep into the groundwater beneath their copper mines, as long as the pollution stays within a designated perimeter. But New Mexico Environmental Law Center director Douglas Meiklejohn says that’s a violation of the state’s Water Quality Act.

J.N. Stuart via Flickr

    

 

Many counties and municipalities in New Mexico have passed restrictions on mining, oil and gas that go beyond state laws. These are things like: dictating how close wells can be to homes or imposing weight limits on trucks.

A controversial bill (HB 366) that would limit that local control, and give the state exclusive power over all matters relating to oil and gas, passed the House Tuesday.

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