What are the hazards of uranium mining?
The environmental and health risks are high.
Radiation cannot be seen, smelled, felt or tasted. Damage from radiation is at the cellular level, with a higher risk to children and seniors.
Spills, leaks, mechanical failures and transportation accidents are common with uranium mining.
Ingesting uranium leads to bone, liver and blood cancer. Inhalation of radon gas causes lung cancer.
“The primary radiation health effect of concern is an increased probability of the exposed individual developing cancer during their lifetime. Cancer cases induced by radiation are generally indistinguishable from other naturally occurring cancers and occur years after the exposure takes place.”
– Argonne National Laboratory, Dept. of Energy
What are the economic hazards?
We’ve already experienced uranium mining and milling in our region. Towns that welcomed uranium mining as “economic development” are now near-ghost towns or toxic sites. The uranium industry took their profits and left – leaving radioactive wastes, unreclaimed mines, and thousands of open drill holes.
The uranium industry would temporarily add less than 2% more jobs in the southern Hills and would take away from the area’s main industries – agriculture and recreation. We need more clean long-term jobs, not short-termed jobs that will permanently harm our land.
“Although these ‘in-situ’ leach mining techniques are considered more environmentally benign than traditional mining and milling practices they still tend to contaminate the groundwater.”
– U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 2007
How will uranium mining affect our water?
Uranium mining would use huge amounts of our precious water. It would pollute our water and expose human, livestock, wildlife and agriculture to radiation and heavy metal poisoning through air, water and food. Wind, flooding or tornadoes could spread radioactive materials throughout the area.
According to studies by the SD School of Mines and Technology, old uranium mines in western South Dakota are already contaminating our water. There are at least 272 old sites in the Black Hills, and the majority have never been cleaned up. Mining should not be restarted when the messes from past uranium mining have not even been cleaned up.