Uranium. The woman who lives down the street from the LEAD Agency office brought us several copies of the book If You Poison Us: Uranium and Native Americans by Peter H. Eichstaedt. Not all of the miners in the 4 Corners area were Navajo, some came from Ottawa County, and Flossie's husband was one of them. These books will be used in our next reading circle. When mining lead and zinc played out here, some of the miners and their families moved to find new jobs. Mining is always dangerous, but while mining uranium, few precautions were taken to protect any of the miners from toxic exposures. Health impacts occurred soon for some later for others. The federal government was made to compensate those affected. But how much is your life worth, or your husband's?
A new study came out this week in JAMA Internal Medicine and I was mesmerized by it. If you have a chance to check out the link, you might find it interesting, too. Every county in the country is shown on a map and when you click on one you will find the life expectancy of the people in that county. Christopher Murray, at the University of Washington helped conduct the analysis, published this week.
Health experts have long known that Americans living in different parts of the country tend to have different lifespans. The research analyzed records from every U.S. county between 1980 and 2014. As I clicked on places I had lived, it became obvious there were differences. Some counties the lifespan is 20 years MORE than others. Some places are dangerous to your health!
Back to uranium, the Miami Leadership Class came to visit LEAD Agency this week, and heard the story about how Ottawa County almost became a temporary repository for nuclear waste and how young Miami School Indian Club members asked why do we want it?
Amanda McCoy and Becky Bigheart as 6th and 7th graders led a community meeting and helped change history for the county when the repository applications were withdrawn. “We have to think of the little ones,” is a phrase my son heard once from a friend of his, but in this case we have to THANK the little ones for seeing through the risks of hosting that waste.Beginning in 1943 and lasting for more than 40 years, Hanford processed uranium into plutonium for nuclear weapons, including for the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. Now the site is run by the Department of Energy and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, and is in the midst of a $110 billion cleanup of 56 million gallons of chemical and nuclear waste that is stored in 177 underground tanks.The job, which began in 1989, is expected to take at least 50 years to complete. About 8,000 people are currently working on the cleanup expected to cost more than $100 billion and last through 2060.
This week at Hanford 4800 workers had to “Take Cover” and shelter in place when a 20' by 20' tunnel subsided where radioactive waste was buried. That is the size of the subsidence in Commerce which caused a short segment of the old Route 66 to be closed recently. Emergency officials even restricted flights from passing over the Hanford nuclear reservation, a 580-square-mile area bordering the Columbia River.
"Take cover” are words no one ever wants to hear. I went back to the lifespan map to check the life expectancy for the 2 counties affected in Washington State. Stress alone must take a toll there. But it turns out Ottawa County is much worse. We should all be grateful for those little ones with their foresight on the danger adding storage of nuclear waste to our already damaged land would have been.
Waffles. I just love them and have been seeking a waffle maker for years that would be safe and easy to use. I bought a couple, only to reconsider after learning more about the safety of some materials. The red one looked great, but had Teflon coating on the cooking surfaces, so I never used it and it went to the electrical appliance recycling event, so no one would ever use it. The last one seemed perfect. Strictly 2 pieces of cast iron, not electric, small to fit over the burner on the stove. We cleaned it and treated it like the new cast iron it was.
But before whipping up the recipe for the long awaited waffles, it came to the LEAD office to be tested with the Thermo Scientific X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer. The readout was going well. 3 Million ppm Iron, of course, but then lead showed up, but then it indicated uranium traces. We decided on pancakes. And the waffle maker? It will serve as another example of an item bought in the U.S but, made in China and why we should have inspectors on imports sold in this country to protect our health and the environment since we have to think of the little ones.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim