Chicago, IL.—The “Radiation Monitoring Project”, a national initiative to establish monitoring of radioactivity in communities contaminated by the nuclear fuel chain, received over half its $15,000 fundraising goal in a single anonymous donation earlier this week.
The Radiation Monitoring Project is a collaboration among three organizations: Diné No Nukes (DNN) of the Southwest region, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) located in Chicago, Illinois and Sloths Against Nuclear State (SANS) based in Brooklyn, NY. These organizations represent communities across America affected by various stages of the nuclear fuel chain—such as uranium mining and milling, waste transport and storage, and nuclear reactors.
“This gift was totally unexpected,” notes Dave Kraft, director of NEIS. “It makes it very likely that we will not only reach our initial targets, but may enable us to purchase even more radiation monitors for distribution than initially planned. Whoever the donors are, we thank you, and so do the communities your gift will be protecting,” says a grateful Kraft.
Due to the lack of public monitoring of radioactivity and access to real-time data regarding radioactive contamination, the three organizations are working together to establish mechanisms to monitor radioactivity and the means to access the information online.
“As long as the American public is not aware of the radioactive pollution in their area, the more they are susceptible to adverse health effects,” states Charmaine Whiteface from Defenders of the Black Hills, an organization dealing with radioactive contamination on Lakota and Cheyenne lands.
Nationally, many communities are in dire need of this type of monitoring to protect human populations, but lack the necessary resources or technology to do much about it. Through this project, these organizations are not only addressing the need for monitoring to protect the public health and safety, but they are also providing culturally appropriate education and support for communities to protect themselves.
This first stage of the project is to raise funds to secure at least 10 radiation detectors (also known as Geiger Counters) as well as to host multiple trainings in different regions to use said devices. The group is using the platform Go Fund Me and receiving tax-deductible donations via NEIS, which received the donation this week from an anonymous donor.
In response to Fukushima, the 2013 WIPP plutonium leak in New Mexico, and in the wake of the recent May 2015 radiation leak at Indian Point nuclear reactor (less than 60 miles north of New York City), residents in urban areas are becoming alarmed to the real dangers of nuclear energy production. Just like the disasters at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, residents of these areas will be permanently impacted by the radioactivity, health effects, economic upheaval, relocation, and the many costs never paid for by the nuclear industry itself.
Unknowingly, a huge percentage of Americans in the Western United States live everyday near radioactive waste sites contaminated from past mining. Beginning in the 1870s, uranium was discovered in Colorado and mined during the 19th century in both Colorado and Texas. The most contaminated sites were created during the Manhattan-Project or Atomic Energy Commission mining-era, largely on indigenous lands and within sources of drinking water for many indigenous peoples. In places like Churchrock, New Mexico—site of the world’s largest uranium tailings spill in 1979—both ground and surface water were contaminated. Today, the majority of these past mining areas remain un-remediated. Residents in Churchrock are still living with contamination from past mining and the 1979 spill. Such rural locations are not in the news and, in the past, did not receive the media attention that was created around Three Mile Island or Fukushima,
Arnie Gundersen of Fairwinds Energy Education – an internationally recognized nuclear issues expert, especially on the Fukushima nuclear disaster — says in support of the project: “Radiation exposure to Native Americans is one of the great untold stories of the nuclear era. These detectors will help the truth to be told.”
This project ties together the entire nuclear fuel chain by addressing the similar needs of different communities working to protect themselves and future generations by identifying contaminated sites and preventing unnecessary exposures at these places.
The project and fundraiser commenced on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster this year, April 26, 2015. The organizations plan to reach the goal of $15,000 by July 16, 2015 which is the anniversary of the Churchrock Spill as well as the first nuclear test explosion in 1945 at the Trinity Site in southern New Mexico.
About the Project: http://www.dinenonukes.org/radiation-monitoring-project/
Go Fund Me: http://www.gofundme.com/radmonitoring