Old & New Uranium Mining in the Upper Midwest
1. Uranium mining
in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota began in the middle of the 1950s. World War II, which had ended the previous
decade with the nuclear bomb, and the advent of nuclear energy for the production of electricity for use in homes and businesses,
caused the price of uranium to rise. As the economy of the foregoing states depends primarily on agriculture, many get rich-quick
schemes were quick to be adopted when uranium was discovered in the region. Not only were large mining companies chopping
off the tops of bluffs and tables, but small individual ranchers were also digging in their pastures for the radioactive metal.
Mining occurred on both public and private land, although the Great Sioux Nation still maintains a claim to the area through
the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868.
2. In northwestern
South Dakota, the Sioux Ranger District, as an example, is managed by Custer National Forest and currently contains 89 abandoned
open-pit uranium mines. Studies show that one mine alone has 1400 mRem of exposed radiation with no warning signs posted for
the general public at the entrance. More than 1,000 open-pit uranium mines and prospects can be found in the four state region
according to a map by the US Forest Service.
3. The following
agencies are aware of these abandoned uranium mines and prospects: US Forest Service, US Environmental Protection Agency,
US Bureau of Land Management, SD Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the US Indian
Health Service, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
4. The water
runoff from the (Sioux Ranger District) Cave Hills abandoned uranium mines empties into the Grand River which flows through
the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Three villages are located on the Grand River and their residents have used the water
for drinking and other domestic purposes. One village still uses the water for drinking and domestic purposes. The water runoff
from the (Sioux Ranger District) Slim Buttes abandoned uranium mines empty into the Morreau River which flows through the
Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Four villages are located on the Morreau River. No data is currently available about their
use of the Morreau River water.
5. In 1972,
President Richard Nixon signed an Executive Order in secret declaring this four-state region of the country to be a 'National
Sacrifice Area’ for the mining and production of uranium and nuclear energy.
6. In southwestern
South Dakota, the southern Black Hills contain many abandoned uranium mines. Nuclear radiation near Edgemont, SD, polluted
the underground water of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation according to a study completed in the 1980s by Women of All Red
7. In 2006,
the South Dakota legislature passed two laws to allow: 'In Situ Leaching' for uranium in which a liquid is forced into the
earth to bring up the uranium. Accidents, or breaks in the pipe create nuclear pollution of aquifers. The second law that
was passed without public comment, input, or hearings allows the building of nuclear power plants anyplace in South Dakota.
WHAT YOU CAN
1. Inform yourself
about nuclear radiation and whether you have any abandoned or current uranium mining in your area.
2. Write letters
to your United States Senators and Representatives encouraging them to put a ban on all nuclear development, and demand that
your tax dollars be put into the development of clean and healthy alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Inform them also that the disposal of nuclear wastes is still a problem. The United States, the world, and the future generations
do not need any more nuclear waste.
3. If you live
in South Dakota, write a letter to Gov. Mike Rounds, 500 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501-3212, telling him that South Dakota
and its people, animals, birds, plants, and environment are not to be sacrificed for uranium no matter how much money is brought
into the state.
4. If you live
in South Dakota, contact your local state Senators and Representatives requesting them to stop the implementation of Senate
Bill 61, the In Situ Leaching bill for Uranium, and House Concurrent Resolution 1010 which allows nuclear power plants to
be built anywhere in the state. It has long been proven how dangerous nuclear radiation is to the public and the environment.
5. If you live
outside of South Dakota, write a letter to Gov. Mike Rounds, 500 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501-3212, telling him that
although you would like to visit the state and see Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, you will not come to South Dakota until
all of the abandoned uranium mines in the four-state region are cleaned up and there is no pollution in the water, on the
land, or in the animals.
6. Write to
South Dakota Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune, and Representative Stephanie Herseth informing them that South Dakota and
its people, animals, birds, plants, and environment are not to be sacrificed for uranium no matter how much money is brought
into the state. Also encourage them to take the lead on a federal ban on all nuclear development, and demand that your tax
dollars be put into the development of clean and healthy alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power. South Dakota
has more than enough wind and solar energy that has not been
7. Write, email,
or fax a letter to your Senators and Representatives, and the President of the United States urging them to pass special federal
legislation for the clean-up of the more than 1,000 abandoned uranium mines and prospects in the center of the nation. The
consequences of the mining of uranium forty years ago must be stopped. No part of the United States should be sacrificed for
nuclear development or energy. The United States' "secret Chernobyl" must be cleaned up before any more harm is done to humans,
animals, birds, crops, and the environment of the North American
To view pictures of the Cave Hills and Slim Buttes abandoned uranium mines go to http://spaces.msn.com/uraniummine/