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
Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) has been concerned about human health for decades. From the concern over the health effects of water pollution, to concerns about radiation-related health issues resulting from the nuclear fuel cycle, and everything in between. Our work has focused on the people part of the environment – human health, water quality, and safety issues. Historically, some of the issues SRIC has been a part of range from working with individuals suffering from cancers related to uranium mining and milling to get the compensation needed via the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, to helping communities get the information and help they needed after the United Nuclear Corporation’s Church Rock Uranium Mill Tailings Spill into the Puerco River in northwest New Mexico. Issues of health, water, and safety, as well as other issues, continue to be an important part of our work locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Our work has expanded to include Environmental Justice demands, which are also, ultimately, a health issue. SRIC staff worked hard with community groups and legislators to get the New Mexico Solid Waste Act passed in 1991, and helped create the first set of solid waste regulations in 1992. We are again working with communities and the New Mexico Environment Department on updates to those regulations, working to get Environmental Justice issues included in these updates, in addition to other health and safety concerns.
We are also working with other communities, helping them assess their needs. Sarah Henio-Adeky is working with her community on the Core Capacity Project for Ramah Navajo. One aspect of the project is helping the community/Navajo Nation develop capacity to address their health issues, while helping educate the community in order to develop early detection of breast and cervical cancers. Henio-Adeky is also working with SRIC as part of her work as our Navajo Community Liason on the Diné Network for Environmental Health (DiNEH) Project to develop capacity and expertise in research to address concerns about the hazards associated with unregulated drinking water sources throughout the Eastern Agency of the Navajo nation.
Nationally, work with other organizations continues on the nuclear fuel cycle. A comprehensive look at President George Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership examines whether this is truly a new program, or just a new “look” and name to some of the United States historical nuclear work. SRIC work on the safety of the nation’s first nuclear waste depository – the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, continues as we discuss some of the health and safety concerns in our update on the WIPP Monster Mod on page 3.
Internationally, SRIC board member Manuel Pino traveled to Bonn, Germany for the International Chernobyl Congress sponsored by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Attendees at the Congress focused on some of the health and social issues resulting from Chernobyl, the world’s largest civilian nuclear accident. Also discussed were the health of uranium miners and millers from Indigenous communities in the southwestern United States and its correlation to that of Chernobyl survivors. Work with other international organizations continues as we discuss the latest work with communities in the Magadan region of Russia.
Much of our current work with communities focuses on capacity building – helping communities develop the tools to enrich their environment. Some of our other work focuses on the technical – researching regulations (water, landfills, radiation, etc.), the geology (and hydrology) of the land, the latest health research, basically anything else that will assist us in our work. And while we continue educating ourselves, we try educate the public about our work, the communities around us, and why taking care of the environment (and people) matter.
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“Those who develop the technologies, who promote them and stand to profit most from them, are not those who suffer their risks. The analysis of technologies is biased toward their use because the technology promoters generally lack the expertise and the incentive to analyze the risks of the technologies for human health and the environment.”
H. Patricia Hynes,
"The Recurring Silent Spring" (1989)