Friday, March 28, 2008

As Uranium Firms Eye N.M., Navajos Are Wary

Go to Washington Post original
AMBROSIA LAKE, N.M. -- Twenty years after uranium mining ceased in New Mexico amid plummeting prices for the ore, global warming and the soaring cost of oil are renewing interest in nuclear power -- and in the state's uranium belt.

At least five companies are seeking state permits to mine the uranium reserves, estimated at 500 million pounds or more, and Uranium Resources Inc. (URI), a Texas-based company, wants to reopen a uranium mill in Ambrosia Lake.

Industry officials say a uranium boom could mean thousands of jobs and billions in mineral royalties and taxes for the state.

But the deposits are largely in and around Navajo land, and the industry's poor record on health and safety as it extracted tons of the ore in past decades has soured many Navajos on uranium mining. In 2005, the Navajo Nation banned uranium mining and milling on its land, and thousands of tribe members are receiving or seeking federal compensation for the health effects of past uranium exposure.


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