Sunday, April 1, 2007

Water is life

Girls in Africa walk the distance to find water for their families, not always clean, sometimes infested with disease that will make her family sick. But also in the rich west there are problems. Water is a worldwide ecological and cultural concern. For instance upper and lower Moenkopi a bit outside of Tuba city in Arizona. Right on the edge between the Navajo reservation and Hopi reservation, there is a dump site. Everything can be found there, general waste but also heavy metals, leaking batteries, paints and medical waste. The Navajo Nation and the Hopi nation have been working together since years to try to have the dumpsite cleaned and sanitized and to pump out the radioactive seepage. After 40 years this place turned out to be another BIA disaster. The EPA isn’t declaring this a federal clean up site because there is no ‘immediate’ danger. And yes, the water readings are still within drinkable limits but recently the values have seen themselves multiplied by ten. Although there are uranium mines in the vicinity, the occurrence at the dump seems linked to the chemicals used in the milling process of two uranium plants. A plume of radioactive water is moving towards the springs and wells of the two Hopi villages, where the water is used for human consumption, for irrigation and for the animals. This way the radioactivity could bioaccumulate. Also the Navajo Aquifer could be contaminated, a water source for hundred thousands of people. Clean freshwater should be considered a human right.

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