cloudy.png
Friday December 6th, 2019 8:17AM

US official: Research finds uranium in Navajo women, babies

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — About a quarter of Navajo women and some infants who were part of a federally funded study on uranium exposure had high levels of the radioactive metal in their systems, decades after mining for Cold War weaponry ended on their reservation, a U.S. health official Monday.

The preliminary findings from the University of New Mexico study were shared during a congressional field hearing in Albuquerque. Dr. Loretta Christensen — the chief medical officer on the Navajo Nation for Indian Health Service, a partner in the research — said 781 women were screened during an initial phase of the study that ended last year.

Among them, 26% had concentrations of uranium that exceeded levels found in the highest 5% of the U.S. population, and newborns with equally high concentrations continued to be exposed to uranium during their first year, she said.

The research is continuing as authorities work to clear uranium mining sites across the Navajo Nation.

"It forces us to own up to the known detriments associated with a nuclear-forward society," said U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, who is an enrolled member of Laguna Pueblo, a tribe whose jurisdiction lies west of Albuquerque.

The hearing held in Albuquerque by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, Haaland and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, all Democrats from New Mexico, sought to underscore the atomic age's impact on Native American communities.

The three are pushing for legislation that would expand radiation compensation to residents in their state, including post-1971 uranium workers and residents who lived downwind from the Trinity Test site in southern New Mexico.

The state's history has long been intertwined with development of the nation's nuclear arsenal, from uranium mining and the first atomic blast to the Manhattan project conducted through work in the once-secret city of Los Alamos. The federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, however, only covers parts of Nevada, Arizona and Utah that are downwind from a different nuclear test site.

During the hearing, Haaland said one of her own family members had lost his hearing because of radiation exposure. At Laguna Pueblo, home to her tribe, the Jackpile-Paguate Mine was once among the world's largest open-pit uranium mines. It closed several decades ago, but cleanup has yet to be completed.

"They need funds," Haaland said. "They job was not completed."

David Gray, a deputy regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the mine illustrates uranium mining and milling's lingering effects on Indian Country.

On the Navajo Nation, EPA figures show authorities are investigating and cleaning more than 200 abandoned uranium mines, using settlements and other agreements to pay for the work that has taken decades. "A daunting task," Gray said.

Udall, who chaired the hearing, acknowledged federal officials had shown progress but that the pace of cleanup has proven frustrating for some community members.

"They feel an urgency," Udall said. "They feel that things need to happen today."

In her testimony, Christensen described how Navajo residents in the past had used milling waste in home construction, resulting in contaminated walls and floors.

From the end of World War II to the mid-1980s, millions of tons of uranium ore were extracted from the Navajo Nation, leaving gray streaks across the desert landscape, as well as a legacy of disease and death.

While no large-scale studies have connected cancer to radiation exposure from uranium waste, many have been blamed it for cancer and other illnesses.

By the late 1970s, when the mines began closing around the reservation, miners were dying of lung cancer, emphysema or other radiation-related ailments.

"The government is so unjust with us," said Leslie Begay, a former uranium miner who lives in Window Rock, an Arizona town that sits near the New Mexico border and serves as the Navajo Nation capital. "The government doesn't recognize that we built their freedom."

Begay, who said he has lung problems, attended the hearing with an oxygen tank in tow. The hearing was especially meaningful for him after traveling in the past to Washington to advocate for himself and others, he said.

__

Associated Press reporter Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US official: Research finds uranium in Navajo women, babies
Officials say federal research shows that about a quarter of Navajo women who participated in a study of uranium exposure had high levels of the radioactive metal in their systems
9:56PM ( 6 minutes ago )
UN: More needed from UK, US and others on Hammarskjold crash
The head of the latest investigation into the 1961 plane crash that killed U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold says an external attack may have downed the aircraft and is urging the U.S., Britain, South Africa and Russia to provide more information
9:47PM ( 14 minutes ago )
FBI: Inmate is most prolific serial killer in US history
The Federal Bureau of Investigation says the man who claims to have killed more than 90 women across the country is the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history
9:47PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
California OKs pharmacists to dispense HIV prevention meds
California's governor has signed legislation that will allow patients to buy HIV prevention pills from pharmacists without a prescription
7:31PM ( 2 hours ago )
After stumbles, White House aims to hone impeachment defense
The White House is finalizing a high-stakes strategy to confront the impeachment threat: Stall. Obfuscate. Attack. Repeat
6:49PM ( 3 hours ago )
Supreme Court won't intervene over West Virginia justices
The U.S. Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision that derailed the impeachment trials of three West Virginia Supreme Court justices
6:27PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Trump warns Turkey against injuring US troops
President Donald Trump is warning Turkey that there will be "big trouble" if any American personnel in Syria are injured
4:51PM ( 5 hours ago )
Pac-12 Commissioner: Serious concerns with California law
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has expressed serious concerns about a new law that would allow college athletes in California to hire agents and be compensated for the use of their name or likeness through endorsement deals
4:36PM ( 5 hours ago )
Minnesota Rep. Omar files for divorce from husband
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar has filed for divorce from her husband
4:33PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
First lady calls for end of e-cigarette marketing to youth
Melania Trump is calling on companies to stop marketing e-cigarettes to children, saying they're addictive and dangerous
4:52PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Standing ovation for Nobel winner
Dr. Gregg L. Semenza received a standing ovation from faculty members and students as he walked into an auditorium at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine in Baltimore.
2:46PM ( 7 hours ago )
3 get Nobel prize for showing how cells sense low oxygen
Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering how cells respond to differing oxygen levels, paving the way for promising strategies to fight anemia, cancer and other diseases
2:15PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Health
Key points from Ethiopian Airlines whistleblower complaint
Key points from an Ethiopian Airlines whistleblower's complaint that the carrier went into maintenance records on a Boeing 737 Max jet a day after it crashed this year
5:24PM ( 4 hours ago )
Airline went into records after Max crash, engineer says
AP Exclusive: Ethiopian Airlines' former chief engineer says in a whistleblower complaint that the carrier went into maintenance records on a Boeing 737 Max jet a day after it crashed this year, a breach he contends was part of a pattern of corruption
5:04PM ( 4 hours ago )
Major US stock indexes veer broadly lower in choppy trading
A day of choppy trading on Wall Street ended Monday with stocks broadly lower as the market extended its losing streak into a fourth week
4:43PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business
UN: More needed from UK, US and others on Hammarskjold crash
The head of the latest investigation into the 1961 plane crash that killed U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold says an external attack may have downed the aircraft and is urging the U.S., Britain, South Africa and Russia to provide more information
9:47PM ( 15 minutes ago )
FBI: Inmate is most prolific serial killer in US history
The Federal Bureau of Investigation says the man who claims to have killed more than 90 women across the country is the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history
9:47PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Dunkfest: Zion shows high-flying skills in preseason debut
Zion Williamson turned his NBA preseason debut into a dunkfest, slamming it three times in the first half for the New Orleans Pelicans
9:35PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Sri Lanka's Sirisena exits, with reform promises unfulfilled
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will not seek reelection after failing to fulfill his promises to reform government, share power with minority Tamils and investigate civil war abuses
9:02PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Trump defends decision to abandon Kurds in Syria
President Donald Trump is casting his decision to abandon Kurdish fighters in Syria as fulfilling a campaign promise to withdraw from "endless war" in the Middle East
9:00PM ( 1 hour ago )