Tummalapalle Uranium Mine

By: Veronica Wong, SFSU, 2017

The Tummalapalle Mine located in Andhra Pradesh, India is Uranium mine that has caused environmental, health, and economic concerns for the residents of the area. The Tummalapalle Mine is known to be one of the largest Uranium reserves in the world. [1] UCIL (Uranium Corporation of India Ltd) is the group that is heading the project.[2] India’s ultimate goal is to be an energy independent country and Uranium mining is one of the strategies of achieving that goal[3]. Along with the uranium mine, located nearby the mine in Tummalapalle is the Uranium processing plant which also is hazardous. [4]

uranium mining
Hazardous Uranium Mining Site

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Somair Uranium Mine

By Jake Clement, SFSU, 2017

The Somaïr mine extracts uranium in Arlit, Niger, from open pits over two hundred feet deep. The mine is owned in part by the government of Niger, and the French based company AREVA. This mine has become increasingly important to both parties, providing thirty-two percent of Niger’s total exports, and thirty percent of the total uranium France consumes. The economic importance of uranium is taking priority over the people mining it, as well as France having large influence over how much uranium is produced through energy colonialism.

Somair mine
An area of the mine thats already been extracted

Specific radioactive extraction sites are not left exposed, but it’s hard to contain the dust or smaller dirt particles kicked up from extraction. This dust and particulate matter is easily picked up by desert winds, and distributed through the wind’s area of coverage; meaning it travels through the town itself. This has caused a number of issues:

  • Respiratory issues and cancers getting increasingly worse (Environmental Justice Organizations, 2015).
  • The water supplies of the town had higher amounts of radioactive substances than the standard set by the World Health Organization (Environmental Justice Organizations, 2015).
  • Radioactive waste rocks were being reused in the roads and buildings of the town, exposure to radon poisoning (Environmental Justice Organizations, 2015).

All this occurs with not much help to prevent it, as Areva does not see much of the backlash. The company does not have a strong connection to the Arlit community, and does not feel the consequences of mining since it is not occurring on French soil.  The French government highly benefits from this mine, and does not have much reason to punish Areva’s business practices for issues happening in another country. This is a classic case of energy colonialism. AREVA owns sixty-three percent of the Somaïr mine, compared to Niger’s thirty-seven percent. AREVA sees a higher share of profit from this mine, leaving room for economic exploitation. This is a delicate situation for Niger. If they were to negotiate for a larger percentage of ownership in the mine, they risk AREVA pulling portions of their resources and capital out of the mine, leaving more inexperienced people to try and do the same job with much less.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in Africa, ranking “186th out of 187 countries in the Human Development Programme” of the UN. Though moving elsewhere would lessen the exposure to radioactivity, majority of people in Niger do not have the resources necessary to move whenever a life threatening problem arises.

As mentioned before, uranium accounts for over a third of Niger’s exports, which is a large share of the pie. Meaning a third of the economic benefits seen from exporting goods goes solely to those in the uranium industry, which is not good for the country as a whole. The government and those employed by the mine do see some of these economic benefits, but the rest of the country does not, which will hurt even those employed in the mines in the long run.

Though there are economic benefits to the Somaïr mine, going both to France and Niger, there are large drawbacks for the community extracting the mine’s precious resource. The water supply continues to be contaminated, the desert winds will continue to blow, and the people of Arlit have no way of escaping the health risks associated with this. It is up to Niger to help their people in need, by setting stricter safety regulations around this mine, as well as AREVA to work under the health guidelines provided and ensure that radioactive leaks are kept to a minimum.

REFERENCES:

Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade. (2015, July 20). Retrieved October 03, 2017, from http://www.ejolt.org/2015/07/arevas-uranium-mines-niger/

Left in the Dust – Areva’s uranium mining in Niger. (2010, May 6). Retrieved October 03, 2017, from http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/left-in-the-dust-arevas-uranium-mining-in-nig/blog/11734/

Sahara, O. O. (2014, January 23). Uranium mining in Niger: AREVA responds. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/orphans-of-the-sahara/2014/01/uranium-mining-niger-areva-responds-2014121101952629572.html

Somair – Uranium Mining in Niger. (2016, August 16). Retrieved October 02, 2017, from http://www.miningafrica.net/companies/somair-uranium-mining-in-niger/

Buffalo Creek Coal Mine, Logan County, WV

Written at SFSU in 2017

More than thirty years ago, at the U.S’ coal mining peak, the country had one of its worst mining-related disasters at Buffalo Creek, Logan County, West Virginia. A black 25 ft. wave from the waste dam flooded and destroyed the Buffalo Creek community.

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Midnite Mine, Spokane Reservation, WA

By: Jennifer Watkins, SFSU, 2017

Midnite Mine quick history:

  • Located in Spokane Indian Reservation of Washington State.
  • The LeBret twin brothers of the Spokane tribe discovered uranium in 1954 and mining continued for nearly 30 years during the Cold War [1]
  • Dawn Mining Company had 51% ownership [2]
  • Former source of income for many tribal members who are disproportionately impoverished because of the government [3]
  • Currently close to 40 million tons of radioactive waste at Midnite Mine [4] [5]
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Open uranium pit, similar to Midnite Mine

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Proposed Coal Mine on Northern Cheyenne Reservation

By Vivian Rodriguez, SFSU, 2017

The Otter Creek Mine and Tongue River Railroad is a proposed coal mine in Montana on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. The reservation is currently in an ongoing battle with the government to stop the mine from opening.

northern cheyenne reservation
This is the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

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Reopening of a Uranium Mine in the Grand Canyon

 

Written by Daniel Jimenez

        Canyon Mine located in the Grand Canyon, which lies within Arizona is a possible uranium site that was proposed and is in the process of trying to get built. The injustice stems from the fact that this site is located nearby a local tribe, the Havasupai tribe, which is affected negatively by the mine and will even be more so negatively affected if the mine gets renovated into a uranium mine. [1] Currently the mine still has effects on the people because it still has leakages of natural into the water supply. The Havasupai tribe which consists of about 775 Native Americans, are fighting day and night to prevent more injustice rising from this site. [2] Due to their socioeconomic status and positions, it is hard for them to get anywhere politically. The Obama administration put out a ban in 2012 against new uranium mines being built. However, due to the fact that this mine was established in the 1980’s, it was grandfathered in through this loophole. 

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        The biggest issue with the continuation and renovation of this mine will be the constant fear and worrying of possible leaks and contamination of the only water supply for the village and tribe members. [3] Their water supply sits dangerously close to the mine site, and when drilling or mining a substance like uranium, the effects can be catastrophic, not only for the villagers but also for the people working in these conditions. Another issue with sites like this is the cleanup of them once they go out of business. Many sites are not cleaned up properly or taken care of properly once they stop operating. [4]  The open shafts and mines left behind are immediate and obvious dangers to those who travel in them and can easily be hurt by falling debris. These same people can also be injured or hurt by the materials within the mines or shafts themselves. For example, walking into a uranium mine is obviously not the best move if you want to avoid a life of cancer and radiation. But the thing is, is that without proper cleaning or deconstruction of these type of sites and everything they leave behind, people who surround the area will always be in danger. People aren’t the only ones in danger either, animals are just as susceptible or even more so, to walk into a mine like this and instantly obtain the negative effects that would come from a uranium mine. I believe the reasons for the injustice going on at this site can relate to certain theories that have been created for instances like this. The Sacrifice Zone Theory and the Resource Curse theory.

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         The Sacrifice Zone theory hits this place hard because because since this mine was already built, it is already ‘lost’ or ‘used’ to the point where it doesn’t matter what happens there anymore and that it is ‘ok’ to just keep building there and hurting the environment. The Resource Curse theory affects this specific area because it has an abundance of a mineral  – in this case uranium –  that’s important to people either for economic or social purposes, and now this area is getting stripped of that uranium which continuously which affects the people who live in that area, affects the actual environmental around the resource, and worst of all, the only people who see the benefits of this resource are the ones taking advantage of it and selling it or using it for their own personal gain. For this particular site, I would say they are more victims of the Sacrifice Zone theory because since there was already a mine established there in the 1980’s, all the new laws and regulations which ban uranium mines and other types of dangerous mines do not apply to Canyon Mine. This makes this mine susceptible to companies who want to continue making a profit off of things like Uranium.

       Without the proper assistance, Havasupai villagers and members can be in for a lot of trouble. It certainly is challenging for local people to fight companies off when they don’t have the political or financial resources like these big companies do, which is why it is important to spread the word about injustices just like Canyon Mine. 


REFERENCES

[1]Walters, J. (2017, July 17). In the Grand Canyon, uranium mining threatens a tribe’s survival. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/17/ grand-canyon-uranium-mining-havasupai-tribe-water-source

[2]Uranium Mining. (n.d.). Retrieved October 04, 2017, from https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/ uranium

[3]Clark, R. (16, November 15). Grand Canyon Uranium Mine Set to Re-Open. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/blog/grand-canyon-uranium-mine- set-re-open

[4]Walters, J

 

Uranium Mining in The Navajo Nation

Uranium mining in the Navajo Nation lasted from 1944 to 1986. Under leases through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, almost 30 million tons of uranium were extracted from over 500 mining locations [1]. Although the mining ended decades ago, the deadly effects of uranium contamination linger to this day because most of the mines were never properly sealed, or cleaned up at the end of production. Cameron, Arizona is one of the many areas in the Navajo Nation where the indigenous people have suffered from uranium contamination to the environment.

aum map
A map of the Navajo Nation showing the different regions and amount of AUM’s

 

 

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