MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations

From the President

This year a variety of decisions will be made about nuclear waste disposal: the expansion of WIPP and the proposed lowering of health and safety standards, the permitting of a "temporary" storage facility on the Skull Valley Goshute reservation, and a final decision on the Yucca Mountain storage facility. With the new Administration in Washington, DC putting a renewed emphasis on nuclear power and other energy issues, these disposal decisions become that much more important.

Here on the Navajo Nation the land is very important to us. We know about the dangers of the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle — the health effects of uranium mining and its threats to our groundwater. But other indigenous people such as the Western Shoshone and Goshute tribes must deal with the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle — disposal on their lands. Why must we bear the brunt of the nation's waste?

In addition, the transportation of these wastes affects not only us but people from across the country. These dangerous nuclear wastes will be transported by truck and by rail through many communities across the country to these storage facilities, exposing tens of thousands of people to radioactive hazards.

With this issue of Voices from the Earth we hope to raise the level of debate about nuclear waste in this country, allowing all voices to be heard. Also in this issue of Voices we talk about land issues: growth, mining reclamation, and even uranium mining in Russia. We hope you find all of these articles equally important. Please stay with us as we continue to assist community voices, helping people be heard.

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"Federal policy…has been to assure that "waste management problems shall not be deferred to other generations," and many environmental groups have shared the same view. Geological burial - at first glance anyway - looks like an ideal way to accomplish that since, after all, it "removes" the wastes from the environment and solves the problem once and for all. But in many ways entombment does just the opposite. It deliberately poisons a portion of the natural world for an endless stretch of time and in doing so it not only leaves future generations with thousands of tons of the most dangerous rubbish imaginable on their hands but makes it as difficult as the state of our technology permits for them to deal with it. We cannot promise our children - never mind those who will follow hundreds or thousands of years hence - that they will be safe from the wastes. And so long as that is so, we are not taking the problem out of their hands so much as we are taking the solution out of their hands."
Kai Erikson in
"Out of Sight, Out of Our Minds"
The New York Times Magazine
March 6, 1994.

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