Larry J. King of Church Rock once worked in the mines that line the Rio Puerco between Red Water Pond Road Community and Church Rock. The United Nuclear spill of 1979 into the Rio Puerco – the largest accidental release of radiation in US history – surged through the land that he and his family call home. He joined ENDAUM in its early days, and has become a leader in the fight to prevent new uranium mining in Diné communities. Following are excerpts from a video interview with Larry.
“When I first joined in 1997, I didn’t see myself twenty years down the road, or even several years later, working on this. I thought maybe it would be resolved in three years – no more than 10 years. But twenty years later, we’re still here. It’s a long and hideous process. A lot of sleepless nights. A lot of worries.”
“Our organization, with the help of the Law Center and other groups, was able to educate our elected Tribal officials and our President at the time… We were also successful in getting a Navajo Nation law passed to ban uranium mining in Navajo Country.”
“A total ban on new uranium mining… and cleanup. Compensate the workers [who worked in the industry after 1971 who do not qualify for the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act]. That would be justice.”
“Advice for communities just starting a fight against a big polluter: be persistent, be vigilant, don’t give up. Your first target would be your elected officials. Target them, educate them. From there, once you get all of those people on your side, it’s easy.”
“If the Law Center disappeared…that would be a huge, tremendous loss. We’d have to start from ground zero. I would be forever in shock because the companies that we’ve been so far lucky to keep away from our communities, once they found out, they would come charging in. That would be a huge catastrophe.”