OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP
As organizations working to protect the health and safety of people and the planet, we urge you to prioritize cleanup of the thousands of hazardous abandoned uranium mines throughout the United States. This can be accomplished through passage of the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act which has been submitted as a draft bill to Congressman Raul Grijalva (D–AZ) for introduction in Congress.
According to multiple sources, more than 15,000 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) and exploratory sites are located throughout the United States, posing substantial public health and environmental hazards. It is estimated that three fourths of these are on federal or tribal lands and that most of them are open-pit mines. The true number, location, existing hazard, and off-site migration potential for toxic and radioactive materials from these sites have not been catalogued in one database.
No existing federal laws require cleanup of these hazardous sites. A tiny proportion of the mines have been remediated; for example, of the 272 mines in South Dakota, only one has been cleaned up and the cleanup standards are so low that the effectiveness is questionable. Most of these AUMs were established under the “General Mining Law of 1872,” that does not require reclamation or remediation. Mining companies walked away from their cleanup responsibilities after decades of mining, leaving the public to bear their toxic legacy.
According to EPA data, approximately 10 million people are estimated to live within 50 miles of a recorded mine. AUMs have been linked to cancer, genetic defects, and increases in mortality. There is no minimum threshold for radiation damage (no dose which is harmless), and radiation causes cancer and other organ damage, especially during fetal development and in young children.
AUMs are located within or in dangerously close proximity to our National Parks such as the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore, where millions of visitors from throughout the world may be exposed to this toxic threat. Our precious water ways such as the Colorado River, which provides water essential for more than 27 million Americans has already faced contamination. It’s time to clean up the mines!
By prioritizing the introduction and passage of the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act, you can help ensure long overdue cleanup of the thousands of abandoned uranium mines throughout the United States that threaten public health, air, land, and water. We urge you to recognize this tremendous silent national health threat and to take urgent action to stop it.
(please use the form above to sign, your organization’s name will be added to the list.)
Beyond Extreme Energy
People For A New Society
DC Statehood Green Party
Black Warrior Riverkeeper
Code Pink, NY
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
NYC Safe Energy Campaign
Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World
FreshWater Accountability Project Ohio
South Bronx Community Congress
Alliance for Global Justice
Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition
Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community
Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance
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