In a stark example of environmental racism, Native Indians have become the target of toxic uranium mining. Energy Fuels Resources recently obtained federal approval to reopen a mine in close proximity to the Grand Canyon’s popular South Rim entrance. Environmental activists have joined forces with Native Navajos to protest the decision siting serious health risks. Earlier uranium mining has scarred the landscape and left deposits of radioactive waste from 1,000 closed mines. The mining companies failed to adequately remove the radioactive wastes which have resulted in a dramatic increase in cancer and other serious ailments.
One native Indian activist, Klee Benally, remarked that “this is really a slow genocide of the people, not just indigenous people of this region, but it’s estimated that there are over 10 million people who are residing within 50 miles of abandoned uranium mines." The long term impact of contaminated water seepage into groundwater and its impact on wildlife have been ignored. The five-year cleanup plan initiated by the EPA has also been ignored.
San Francisco Peaks, an area considered sacred by 13 Native tribes, has been severely impacted; to compound health concerns is the practice of using treated sewage water to make snow at the popular Snow bowl resort. The future of indigenous tribes has been railroaded over the interests of corporate greed and government watchdogs have fallen asleep at the wheel.