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Thread: Nuclear testing on native land still an issue today

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    Lifeonmars's Avatar
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    Aug 2008

    Default Nuclear testing on native land still an issue today Testing in Nevada
    Nuclear testing was established in 1950 on the Nevada test site, which is land owned by the Western Shoshone peoples. A large portion of the Nevada area was given to the Shoshone people in 1863 under the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in Ruby Valley, Nevada. The agreement demarcated the Shoshone’s ancestral land and allowed for joint use of the lands by the government and Indians, while maintaining that the land remained in the possession of the Shoshone. The land was steadily encroached on by the US government, corporations, and settlers, and in1951 the Western Shoshone Te-Moak Tribal Council, a group not representative of the entire Western Shoshone people, filed a claim with the ICC seeking compensation from the US government for land violations. The majority of Shoshone people, represented by the National Council, were opposed to this, though the claim still went through. The ICC established that the $26 million given to Western Shoshone by the US government was payment for their land and extinguished all claims to it. Instead of receiving payment as a way to compensate for land damages, the courts took away the Shoshone land title. The Western Shoshone people maintain today that there was never a turning over of land ownership, and that they still have a claim to the land they call Newe Segobia . The uncertainty over the ownership of the land, and the ease with which the government has taken advantage of the Indian people, contributes to the Shoshone land being continually exploited.
    Atmospheric nuclear testing began in 1951 on the 3,500 square kilometres large Nevada test site. These lasted until the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 which prohibited all atmospheric, underwater, and outer space nuclear weapons tests. From this point on, nuclear testing has been conducted underground. The damage created by the 50 plus years of nuclear testing has been extensive, and has affected not only the Shoshone people but the entire country’s population. The 300 plus above ground nuclear tests had a cumulative explosive power of 138,600 kilotons, and it was stated by various scientists that this amount would kill up to 2.5 million people, cause 1 million defective children and 1 million miscarriages. Another Doctor traced the increase in infant and children deaths and leukaemia in upstate New York to wind borne radiation from Nevada. The damaging effects of the testing was covered up by the government, and many people died from cancer. There has been no follow up research on the health and environmental effects of the 928 atomic weapons tests conducted between 1951 and 1992, which if conducted would surely be staggering. Native Americans such as the Western Shoshone are much more susceptible to the dangers of atomic testing and fallout due to their traditional lifestyles and dependence on local crops, milk, and wildlife, all of which absorb radiation.
    In more recent years the United States has been conducting underground subcritical nuclear tests on the Nevada site, which the government claims is not in violation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Subcritical Atomic tests are similar to full scale nuclear testing in that they use the same radioactive materials such as plutonium. It is subjected to a high explosive blast but there is no self sustaining fission reaction so the implosion does not reach critical mass. The explosions are completely contained, though if something was to go wrong the explosion could spread radioactive particles throughout the surrounding area. Though the Shoshone people have not had to deal with mushroom clouds and open-air nuclear blasts for many years, they still have not been given their land back. As long as the US government claims the area as their own, the Western Shoshone and other Native Americans have little control over the future of their livelihoods and health. For instance, a 700 ton chemical explosives test (non-nuclear) was scheduled to be detonated at the Nevada Test site in the summer of 2006. It would have been powerful enough to create a mushroom cloud and spread radioactive waste, deposited in the soil of the test site, throughout the area, including Las Vegas. The test, named Divine Strake, was postponed for 2007 and then finally cancelled due to protests and strong concerns on its safety. What this incident represents is that the future of nuclear and explosive tests is still wide open, and the health of the nation continues to be at risk.
    Dangers of Uranium
    Uranium mining, milling, and nuclear testing carries with it serious health and environmental dangers. Native American communities have unequally suffered the burden of these consequences since the beginning of U.S. uranium operations
    Nuclear power is currently being marketed as a solution to the energy crisis and global warming. This has spawned an increase in the demand and price of uranium, which has resulted in a global growth of mines at an alarming pace. Mines in the United States, which have been closed since the end of the cold war, are now being considered for reopening. These past mines caused serious health and environmental damage to the surrounding peoples and lands, and many of the mines’ radioactive waste has still not been properly cleaned up. The continuation of these mines’ operations would mean devastation for the local peoples.
    Nuclear power is not a solution for anything, and causes more harm than good. The problems that it and uranium mining creates are vast, and carries with it long term consequences.
    Nuclear power is not in any way energy efficient. Each step in the “nuclear chain” including the mining, milling and enrichment of uranium, the construction of nuclear power plants, and the treatment and storage of nuclear waste are incredibly energy intensive- and much of this energy is supplied by fossil fuels. In comparison to wind energy, nuclear power releases 3-4 times more CO2 per unit of energy produced taking account of the whole fuel cycle.
    Uranium mining poses huge health risks to its workers, the majority of whom are Native Americans employed in the low paying mining positions. They are exposed to dust and radioactive radon gas, presenting a lung cancer hazard. For example, in the United States 87% of lung cancer cases are a result of smoking. Among underground uranium miners however, it is estimated that 70% of lung cancer deaths in non-smoking miners and 40% of lung cancer deaths in smoking miners are due to exposure to radon progeny.
    Mining causes serious environmental and health damage to surrounding land and populations. During mining operations, large volumes of contaminated water are pumped out of the mine and released to rivers and lakes, spreading into the environment. Ventilation of the mines releases radioactive dust and radon gas, increasing the lung cancer risk of residents living nearby. Piles of so-called waste rock often contain elevated concentrations of radionuclides when compared to normal rock. These piles continue to threaten people and the environment after the shutdown of mines due to their release of radon gas and seepage water containing radioactive and toxic materials . The above problems caused by uranium mining are just a fraction of its negative impacts. The Native American populations which have come in contact with uranium related activity have suffered disproportionately. The number of people to truly benefit from uranium mining is very slim in comparison to the large amount of peoples it harms. This is a case of environmental racism, where the lands and health of Native Americans are destroyed by profit seeking exploits of the government and corporations.

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    Join Date
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    Las Vegas NV

    Default Re: Nuclear testing on native land still an issue today

    So that's why the veggies in my garden all weigh 104,656,923,562,539 pounds

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