Alex Jacobs: Nuclear industry leaves mark on Native communities

The Trinity atomic bomb test was conducted on July 16, 1945, in New Mexico.

Mohawk poet Alex Jacobs discusses the nuclear industry's impact in New Mexico:
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez made news after her Environment Secretary presented papers to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz, with fines for LANL – the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory - of $32.6 million for 24 violations and WIPP - the Waste Isolation Pilot Project - $17.7 million for 13 violations. Where the money comes from is the next fight, from the contractor’s insurance funds or taxpayers who will already be funding the clean-up on top of the annual operating costs. Contractors need these insurance funds to do business and because guess what, contractors make a lot of mistakes. So one possible solution is dropping the old contractors – LANS – and getting a new one who hopefully won’t make a series of different mistakes.

Next year will represent 70 years of the Nuclear and Defense Industries hold on New Mexico as we finally hear of studies commissioned to test surviving Native, Hispanic and Anglo families who were exposed to the Trinity Test radiation. Tina Cordova of Santa Clara Pueblo is the president of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.

She has said that the true legacy of the Trinity Test has never been exposed, with 19,000 residents living in the surrounding communities (including Native tribes and Pueblos) at the time, and these people experienced the nuclear rainfall afterwards and continued to eat and drink the contaminated food and water. The U.S. military tested 200 nuclear weapons in 20 years after Trinity; the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 has doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars—but not to folks downwind of the Trinity Test.

Get the Story:
Alex Jacobs: Politics Playing Out in the NM Environment (Indian Country Today 12/13)

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