McKinley County Residents Advocate for protections from uranium

As a result of dogged persistence on the part of uranium-impacted residents, the McKinley County Commission promised to create a blue ribbon task force to examine how the County should address possible uranium mining in the future.

The meeting where the task force was promised almost didn’t happen.

Renal Cancer in NM

“NM has very low cases of renal cancer … until
you get to Mckinley and San Juan counties,”
– Community doctor’s public comment.

Early this year, after many months of working to get a 3 year moratorium on new mining, community advocates were stunned to discover that the Commission had quietly rearranged agendas to minimize public attendance at the January 3 meeting where the draft ordinance was discussed. Rather than adopt the moratorium, the Commission adopted a meaningless resolution that directs citizens to contact federal authorities about uranium concerns (as a Law Center supporter, you know that our clients have been doing this – to no avail – for decades).

Soon thereafter, the Law Center threatened to sue over the meeting’s failure to comply with the State’s Open Meetings Act. As a result, the Commission quickly scheduled a special meeting on March 14 to reopen the uranium discussion.

More than two dozen residents attended the meeting to share their stories about sickness and contamination. Not a single person testified against the moratorium. While the nearly two hours of testimony did not dissuade the Commission from readopting the meaningless resolution, the testimony did spur the Commission to state it would create a task force that includes community members. Our clients hope that this task force will be a starting point for meaningful local response to ensure that new mining does not occur while residents continue to grapple with Cold War-era contamination.

Thank you for supporting this critical work. We will keep you informed of our progress.