Red Shirt Village, South Dakota – Green Shadow Cabinet President, Dr. Jill Stein, Shadow Attorney General Kevin Zeese and Shadow Secretary of Health Dr. Margaret Flowers join with local community, Indigenous, veterans and environmental groups to launch the Clean Up the Mines Campaign.
The campaign is bringing attention to more than 10,000 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) situated primarily from the Great Plains to the West Coast which are a toxic product of the Cold War and nuclear power eras.
Ten million people live within 50 miles of an AUM, but the reality is that radioactive and toxic heavy metals can travel long distances through contaminated waterways and food supplies and as dust in the wind and rain.
Dr. Stein pointed out that this contamination is invisible to the public because radioactive water, land and air appear normal.
“It is our responsibility to protect the public’s health by cleaning up these thousands of AUMs. We must hold the corporations and agencies that are responsible for allowing the mines to go unattended for decades accountable for their negligence,” Dr. Stein said.
Dr. Flowers added, “The mines are a silent health threat that cause high rates of cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems such as kidney disease and neurological abnormalities to local populations and put millions at risk.
“This devastating human cost of using nuclear power, a dangerous and false solution that some promote, is not yet recognized by the public,” Dr. Flowers said.
In addition, Kevin Zeese called for highly destructive acts, such as AUMs, to be prosecuted.
“Corporations must be held accountable for the health, economic and environmental damage that they have caused and continue to cause. Our legal system must follow the rule of law and act in the public’s interest rather than benefiting corporations and the security state,” Zeese remarked.
The Green Shadow Cabinet believes that people have a right to know about the serious health and financial risks involved in the use of radioactive materials. The United States should clean up and shut down all uranium mines, nuclear plants and nuclear weapons on an emergency basis.
“We can meet our energy needs through clean renewable sources by 2030, putting America back to work in living wage jobs and making resource wars obsolete. The health savings alone would pay the costs of this transition,” Dr. Stein concluded.
Stein, Zeese and Flowers are traveling with a team sponsored by Defenders of the Black Hills to visit AUMs in Southwest South Dakota. Charmaine White Face, their host, is demonstrating high levels of radiation in the areas they visit using a Geiger counter. Just outside of Mount Rushmore, they documented a reading of 15 microrems/hour (five times the level allowed in Fukushima).
On Earth Day, the official Clean Up the Mines campaign launch ceremony will be held in Red Shirt Village close to the radioactive Cheyenne River. The community of Red Shirt is unable to drink or use their local water due to high levels of uranium and arsenic. The same aquifer that serves Red Shirt Village also supplies the population of Rapid City, but that community is largely unaware of the risks.
The launch is part of the Global Climate Convergence, ten days of action on behalf of people, planet and peace over profit. The climate crisis gives new urgency to unified and transformative action to change course immediately. There will be more than 200 events in 50 cities across the US and around the world.