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Editorial: Clean up uranium on Navajo Nation

"During World War II, the federal government made a deal with Navajos: If the tribe allowed uranium mining on its 27,000-square-mile reservation, the land eventually would be returned "in as good condition as received."

Instead, when the diggers left by the mid-1960s, the land was scarred by open shafts, contaminated well water and radioactive piles — often without fences or warning signs. As a Times series ( reported last week, federal inspectors knew about the damage but did little to prevent or fix it.

What followed was unconscionable. Navajos drank from contaminated pools, slept on radioactive floors and fed their herds on land irrigated with death. Children suffered mysterious, painful illnesses and died young. One couple, Helen and Leonard Nez, lost six of their children; Helen had drunk poisoned water while pregnant.

Blame can be laid at the feet of the mining companies and even the tribal government. But it is the job of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to prevent environmental wreckage and safeguard the tribe's interests. Both fell down on the job spectacularly."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Clean up the Navajos' poisoned land (The Los Angeles Times 11/26)

Relevant Links:
Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining -

Related Stories:
LA Times series on Navajo Nation uranium mining (11/22)
A href="/News/2006/017012.asp">LA Times series on Navajo Nation uranium mining (11/21)
Onondaga Nation makes big filing in land claim suit (11/20)
Navajo Nation hosts indigenous uranium summit (11/13)
Navajo Nation to allow uranium waste transport (10/25)
Navajo group opposes return of uranium mining (09/28)
Navajo Nation wins Nuclear-Free Future Award (09/28)
Judge rules on uranium mining at Navajo sites (07/27)
Mining an issue as Navajo Nation Council meets (04/20)
Nuclear panel halts uranium mining at Navajo sites (03/03)