Commission reverses effort to bury ordinance, Special meeting March 14
With help from the Law Center and its members, affected community members have a chance to push for a three year moratorium on uranium mining in McKinley County.
Click to read meeting noticeA special meeting on uranium mining is scheduled before the McKinley County Commission on Tuesday, March 14 at 1:30 pm.
Time: 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Location: McKinley Courthouse, 3rd floor in Commissioner Chambers
Address: 207 W. Hill, Gallup, NM 87301 (map)
Members of the public are strongly encouraged to attend.
This meeting comes after the Law Center threatened to sue the Commission for violating the state’s Open Meetings Act. In violation of the law, the commission had put the moratorium on the agenda of a little-publicized meeting on January 3; after telling community advocates that the moratorium would be heard on January 10. See case page.
Community groups, including Law Center clients Red Water Pond Road Community Association and the Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining, worked for years to put a draft ordinance in front of the McKinley County commission. The draft ordinance would place a three year hold on mining while the County holds public meetings to collect information “on the impacts of uranium mining in McKinley County in order to determine whether it is necessary and desirable to develop an ordinance regulating uranium development in McKinley County.”
At the January 3 meeting, Commissioners put aside this proposal. Instead, seemingly at the behest of the uranium industry and State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, they adopted an ordinance encouraging affected residents to contact federal agencies with concerns – something that communities have been doing for decades to little or no avail.
“McKinley County Commissioners have a responsibility to protect their citizens from the devastating environmental and health impacts from past uranium mining,” added Susan Gordon, coordinator for the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE), which includes five groups whose members are impacted on a daily basis by Cold War contamination. “The moratorium would not impact any existing or proposed new uranium mines because there are none that are financially viable in the foreseeable future. The Commissioners should be championing health studies and working to support uranium cleanup. That will bring real jobs and economic growth to McKinley County.”
“Most of the kids in McKinley County don’t know that they live near uranium mines. And the few that do know, understand that they are impacted because of their exposures. Kids are our future. We must take the time to find out about the health impacts and learn how to protect them now and in the future,” said Teracita Keyanna, with Red Water Pond Road Community Association. The Association includes residents who live in the shadow of three Cold War-era uranium Superfund sites.