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Uranium waste in NM puts lie to ‘carbon free’

Science, with its unrelenting exploration, research and equations, has made incredible advances. It has made convenience in life for those who have the means to access that convenience, a convenience that comes with collateral consequence. The benefits that science and technology have brought cannot be denied, and these positive benefits are an integral part of our lives.

With the tremendous and ultimate good that science and technology has achieved, there is the counterpart of the tremendous and ultimate negative effect that must be recognized and contended with. Therein, is the great conflict inherent in the quest for human progress and the exposition of dynamics on the survival of humanity.

The greatest fallacy of Western thought is the attempted dichotomization of the physical and spiritual realities of life. There is a foundational duality in the composition of all matter of creation. In the indigenous conscious of reality, the physical and spiritual components of all there is are intrinsically joined. There can be no separating of the two parts. There is a physical and spiritual composition of all matter, even in what may be thought to be lifeless. Seemingly lifeless matter may appear inanimate; however, with the limitations of the human mind, we do not have the capacity to conceptualize that seemingly inanimate matter has life in other dimensions.

We must understand that abuse of seemingly inanimate matter has consequence. The extraction of uranium and the exploitation of it causes compounded waste and resultant compounded consequence. We have created mountains of radioactive waste; because we have limited knowledge and capacity to conclusively, effectually and permanently deal with this waste, we bury it. Out of sight, out of mind does not ease our minds because we know it is there. My community of Shiprock has one of the largest uranium waste disposal cells in the country sitting in the middle of our community. People who naively exalt science and technology may simultaneously inebriate themselves from the consequence of the devastating reality.

The natural law of cause and effect predicates all. With my Navajo people, we have suffered the deaths of hundreds of our uranium miners, millers, transporters and affected family members due to health complications caused by exposure to uranium. In 1979 a United Nuclear Corp. holding pond burst, releasing 94 million gallons of radioactive waste that cascaded through Gallup and on downstream. Women and children who waded in the contaminated Rio Puerco, burning their feet, were told that the radioactive water was a figment of their imagination. … Our lives continue to be at stake. The radioactive levels remain, and we, the contaminated people, continue to develop uranium-related health issues. We die a slow death. The world of science and technology has damaged us and the natural world.

The Public Service Company of New Mexico, which has made an incredible indelible scar of industrial consequence on New Mexico and the Earth, now wants to add more nuclear to its portfolio. By doing so, PNM will only amplify this consequence. Some say that nuclear-generated electricity should be allowed because it is “carbon-free.” From a life-cycle perspective, it is not carbon-free. The semantics are irrelevant; what matters is the eventual and permanent negative impact and consequence to the land, the people and our planet Earth.

(In honor of) this Earth Day, it is imperative we acknowledge the damage done to the integrity of the life of Earth. The seemingly insurmountable effect from the cause of the extractive industry demands our attention. We have a climate crisis that is ebbing the life of our planet. The delicate balance of the equilibrium of the Earth and its life systems have been dangerously upset. We cannot further aggravate this great dilemma with more uranium exploitation and continue to destroy the sanctity of our Earth Mother and all life upon and within her.

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