Navajo Council’s Resources & Development Committee now on Legislation 0015-15, which is for the creation of a Dine’ Uranium Remediation Advisory Committee. SPONSOR, DELEGATE JONATHAN PERRY AND CO-SPONSORS DELEGATES TOM CHEE, OTTO TSO, AMBER K. CROTTY, TUCHONEY SLIM JR., MEL BEGAY, JONATHAN NEZ, NATHANIEL BROWN
During the Public Comment period, which continues until the Council acts on Legislation 0015-15, there were only FOUR comments in support of 0015-15. There was one comment opposing 0015-15.
SPONSOR, DELEGATE JONATHAN PERRY
0015-15 is to begin to move forward to address history of uranium activity since 1940s and there has been very little cleanup. The commission is looking forward into the future for solutions. It has brought to my attention that Navajo known for three things – Navajo Code Talkers, Navajo rugs/weaving, and uranium.
the make up of commission is on page 10. NEPA director; Navajo Super Fund director; AML; and seven community members from six regions – eastern, southern, westen centeal, north, north centeral. there are red dots on map that ID abandoned uranium mines. there also would be one youth member.
the intern of commission is to look at remediation/cleanup and recommend policies and laws for remediation/cleanup to Council and President.
NAVAJO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY DIRECTOR STEPHEN ETCITTY
as delegate perry introduced 0015-15, these are from recommendations of Task Force from Shelly in 2004 to meet for 12 months and it took until November 2013. we held four regular meetings and our partcipants in task force were broad and included members of community groups. we also had members of Dine’ Hatathli Association. We also received funding to address some of concerns regarding Dine’ Fundamental Law and former Navajo Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Yazzie write paper on how to balance western science and traditional environmental science, which is termed used by US EPA, and also includes community people living by abandoned mining sites and mills. the balance we are trying to strike here is something the NEPA and Navajo Super Fund Office stuggle with. our own pple are still involved in ceremony and how Navajo relate to environment. there are also master level technical staff working on Phd. we want to expand discussion. pple live as close as quarter mile and some five mile radius. we have been in their homes. we heard a lot of frustration, expectations, cynicism cuz they can’t believe that anything better can happen especially since everything has remained the same for 50 years. we are at point now where we are able to call federal government to their responsiblities and we are calling corporations that abandoned their mines and mills. we have growing list of responsible parties which are providing technical help and funding. These corporatiions thought they had done enough but now they are returning. each of these sites needs remediation/cleanup. Some sites are ID as non-time critical. we expect to go thru deliberative process which is review of remeidal options of what type of cleanup can be done. it’s important that community voices be included. at northeast church rock mine, which is in northeast part of Coyote Canyon. and coyote canyon organized a community group and it was from them that we learned our mistakes that our efforts to hear community fell short cuz community has varied opinions. i know many of your have been part of decisions and pple weigh in and there is no uananimous support in Window Rock. we are hoping for solutions in more concerted way that involves community voices. so we hope this Commission will satisfy more of the communities and have them sit down face to face with some of these corporations. have community voice be part of cleanup decisions. lessons we learned happened with EPA sitting by us. EPA sees value of more deliberation and communication. They support the creation of a Commission that would handle large of work of getting communities involved. EPA has backed up their support with grants and special revenues. One thing I wanted to stress is that it will be something that we don’t pay for with general funds. concern about forming another level of bureaucracy is untrue cuz EPA funding.
RDC VOTES ON 0015-15, 3 IN FAVOR, 0 OPPOSED.
RDC VICE CHAIRPERSON BEN BENNETT COMMENDS PERRY, ETCITTY AND CARR FOR THEIR WORK. HE ALSO RECOMMENDS THAT THEIR PRESENTATION TO COUNCIL INCLUDE A POWER POINT PRESENTATION.
RDC MEMBER DAVID FILFRED
I wish these efforts were done for my area which is impacted by oil and gas.
RDC adjourns at 3:45 pm