The following news piece represents the first in a 15 part mini-series titled, Nuclear Power in Our World Today, featuring nuclear authority and world expert, nuclear engineer and whistleblower Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy. The EnviroNews USA special encompasses a wide span of topics, ranging from Manhattan-era madness to the continuously unfolding crisis on the ground at Fukushima Daiichi in eastern Japan.
Our journey extends outward from a bombshell interview conducted by EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry, with the esteemed nuclear expert, whistleblower, and expert witness Arnie Gundersen. Gundersen is a nuclear engineer, as well as a former power plant operator, and trade executive, whose own life, for a good amount of time, was ruined by the nuclear industry after he exposed radioactive safety violations. So to get this series rolling, here’s what Gundersen revealed to Emerson Urry.
We were talking about Fukushima and obviously the myriad isotopes that are put off as a byproduct of the nuclear fission that is happening in the reactor. It all starts there with the uranium, and there was quite a rush for that, and now we have all of these situations. To our understanding there are about 15,000 abandoned uranium mines that have been left in complete ruin with very little cleanup or remediation at all, just in the western United States. This has happened, by-and-large, because of an antiquated mining bill – the 1872 Mining Bill.
Gundersen: I’ll give you another example of the same thing, and I would say “yes” to everything you said is the quick answer.
There is a mill-tailings site in Moab, Utah. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the owner of the site that they needed to set aside six million dollars to clean it up. Well, the actual cleanup is a billion dollars. What did the owner do? They declared bankruptcy and walked away.
Urry: And it wasn’t bonded? No bond?
Gundersen: Right. It wasn’t bonded. You know, if you bonded uranium mining, you wouldn’t have uranium mining.
Urry: Because nobody would probably…
Gundersen: The way our system is set up is that you take the profit early, and then when everything is done you walk away and the government takes the risk. So, we’ve socialized the risk, and the capitalists make the profit early on and the rest of us pick up the cost afterward. And that’s historically true on the Navajo reservation especially – but you get in the Black Hills and the Lakota Sioux…
When Gundersen said the brunt of these mines are on Native American lands, he wasn’t kidding. All of these are abandoned open-pit uranium mines. 397 in Montana, 2103 in Wyoming, 113 in North Dakota, 272 in South Dakota, and 387 in northern Colorado, for a total of 3272. This is an abandoned open-pit uranium mine on the southwestern edge of the Black Hills.
The thing about the Darrow Pits Mine is that they are only 40 miles from Mt. Rushmore. Millions of tourists travel to Mt. Rushmore every year not knowing that they are breathing in radioactive dust, and the water that they drink in the motels in Rapid City contains uranium.
Recently, March 2013, the U.S. Forest Service finally issued a public safety closure order because of the dangers to human health. Among the particles that are in there are arsenic, molybdenum, thorium, radium and uranium. These are all in the form of dust or runoff, and they are picked up by the wind. Our levels were very very high compared to Chernobyl.
The radiation levels in parts I visited with my students were higher than those in the evacuated zones around the Fukushima nuclear disaster.” Higher. Fukushima radiation levels were higher than Chernobyl. The Northern Great Plains’ levels are higher than Fukushima — and these are not from nuclear power plants or from an atomic weapon, or atomic bomb being exploded. These are from 2,885 abandoned open-pit uranium mines and prospects, and we are subject to that radioactive pollution constantly. All of these abandoned open-pit uranium mines in the Northern Great Plains are affecting everyone, but they are genocide for the Great Sioux Nation — for my people. This is genocide.
Contact your congressman, your senators. Ask them to pass a bill to clean up all the abandoned uranium mines in all of the United States. SEE more info at: http://www.fairewinds.org/
"Demystifying Nuclear Power Through Education".
SEE Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/fairewindsenergy
Source: http://environews.tv/031116-031016-pt-1-the-dirty-deadly-frontend-of-nuclear-power-15000-abandoned-uranium-mines/#comments at EnviroNews.com
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