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Church Rock Chapter Decries NRC Judge's Ruling

Church Rock Chapter President Johnny Livingston today decried a ruling by a federal administrative law judge that denied a citizen group's motion requesting the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) study the effects of proposed uranium in situ leach (ISL) mining on the 900-home Springstead Estates planned residential community in Church Rock Chapter.

"Apparently the Government in Washington doesn't care about the health, safety and well-being of the 4,000 people who will be living in the Springstead community within five to ten years," Livingston said in commenting on the ruling by NRC Judge Thomas Moore.

"This ruling is another example of how the NRC consistently ignores our communities' concerns about new uranium mining and why the Navajo Nation must step into this fight to protect our people," Livingston said.

Moore's ruling denied a motion by Intervenors Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) and Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) that sought to have the NRC's 1997 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Hydro Resources, Inc.'s (HRI) Crownpoint Uranium Project supplemented to assess impacts of HRI's proposed Church Rock ISL mines on human health and the environment of Springstead Estates. The Springstead housing project, which is the largest planned housing development for Native Americans in the U.S., will be located about four miles north of Church Rock Village and about 1.5 miles south of HRI's proposed Section 8 and Section 17 mines.

The Intervenors requested supplementation of the FEIS on the grounds that the housing project was not planned at the time the impact statement was prepared between 1994 and 1997, and therefore any effects of HRI's operations on the people who will live in Springstead have not been analyzed as required by federal law. Moore ruled in part that the housing development is "speculative," that the water supply for the development is not known with certainty, and the existing FEIS adequately addresses impacts of the HRI project in the area.

"There is nothing speculative about Springstead," Livingston said. "The houses will be built there, it's only a matter of time." He noted that federal funds have been earmarked for the proposed Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) development, but construction has been put on hold temporarily until environmental studies on the housing site are completed. Those studies were requested by Church Rock Chapter two years ago to determine if past uranium mining in the area had contaminated the lands on which 900 to 1,000 single-family homes will be built.

Livingston noted that Church Rock Chapter fully supports the Springstead Estates project because it will bring needed housing to the growing community 3.5 miles east of Gallup. He also noted that the Chapter raised its own money from foundation grants to conduct radiation monitoring at the housing site to determine if the land is safe for people to live on.

"We have an obligation to ensure our people's safety, and that's why we conducted radiation monitoring at the Springstead location in October 2003 and why we support follow-up studies that are being conducted now by consultants to NHA," Livingston said. "But the NRC ignores its trust responsibility to our community by finding that HRI won't have an impact on Springstead without even conducting the studies necessary to make that determination.

"We've watched NRC's indifference toward our community for 10 years," Livingston said. "We cannot trust the federal government to look out for our interests. We're going to have to take our own actions as a sovereign nation and a sovereign people to stop this madness."

ENDAUM and SRIC intervened in NRC's licensing of the HRI project in 1994, asserting that the proposed solution mining risks long-term contamination of the regional aquifer and presents health risks to the local communities because homes and schools are located close to the proposed mining operations. The Intervenors' adjudication of the Church Rock Section 8 site has been completed except for appeals, with the case still pending for three other mining sites - Church Rock Section 17, Unit I west of Crownpoint, and the central processing plant site and wellfields in the town of Crownpoint.

Church Rock Chapter is not an Intervenor in the HRI case but adopted resolutions in 2000 and 2003 opposing new uranium mining in general and the HRI project specifically.


CONTACTS:
Church Rock Chapter
P.O. Box 549, Church Rock, NM 87311
505-488-5949; 505-488-6561

Johnny Livingston, 505-870-4096;
Gerald Brown, 505-488-5310

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". . . [I]t should be noted that the SEP [Springstead Estates Project] is, at best, in a conceptual stage and that it is totally speculative as to which, if any, aquifer would supply the SEP with water should the housing development ever be built."

— NRC Judge Thomas Moore
October 22, 2004

"Apparently the Government in Washington doesn't care about the health, safety and well-being of the 4,000 people who will be living in the Springstead community within five to ten years. This ruling is another example of how the NRC consistently ignores our communities' concerns about new uranium mining and why the Navajo Nation must step into this fight to protect our people."

— Johnny Livingston, President
Church Rock Chapter



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