By Mervyn L. Tano,
International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management (www.iiirm.org)
On July 12, 2011 staff of the Department of Science and Engineering and members of the Science and Technology Committee of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation toured the AREVA fuel fabrication in Richland, Washington. I’ll cover the tour in more detail later but for the nonce, I’d like to report on a most interesting discussion of uranium mining that took place very late in the debriefing after the tour.
The discussion started with committee members Alvina Huesties’ and Althea Huesties-Wolf‘’s comment that although the tour helped them see that certain operations of the nuclear fuel cycle could be done in an environmentally sound manner, they still had serious concerns about the unresolved problems of uranium mining in Indian country. They are intimately aware of the devastating impacts of uranium mining on the people, lands, and water of the Spokane Tribe and are familiar with the Navajo Nation’s experience. These front-end concerns cannot but have an effect on how they view the entire fuel cycle.