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Science Versus Fiction: Have New Mexico Environmentalists Been Telling The Truth?

Science Versus Fiction: Have New Mexico Environmentalists Been Telling The Truth?

While it may be a speculative reflection on whether Chris Shuey influences the editorial voices of Gallup and other New Mexico media outlets, it appears that Mr. Shuey may have built the foundation of his career on a uranium-related disaster. On the other hand, can anyone blame an ambulance chaser for trying to make a living too? With an episode of Three-Mile-Island remaining in laid-back Gallup, New Mexico, Chris Shuey helped establish the Southwest Center for Research and Information in an “expert” vocal counterpoint against the uranium industry by apparently taking advantage of the oil spill. 1979 uranium mill tailings. near Church Rock. It was considered one of the worst tailings spills ever to occur in North America. We’re looking for conclusive evidence of deaths from this spill, but we just came up short. Any published official reports that contradict the above statement will be welcome.

Founded in 1971, the SRIC group established great media credibility by exploiting the “terrible and grotesque” consequences for human and livestock health of that spill. But where was the real damage in terms of human life and ecological disaster? We obtained the executive summary (dated October 1982) of a NMEID report, titled “The Church Rock Uranium Mill Tailings Spill: A Health and Environmental Assessment.” The authors of the report concluded: “To summarize, the spill affected the environment of the Rio Puerco Valley for a brief period, but had little or no effect on the health of local residents.” This report was issued three years after the “largest single release of liquid radioactive waste in the United States” (about 94 million gallons of acidified effluent and tailings sludge).

Some might speculate whether the newspaper reports published in 1979 about this spill sound and smell like shoddy tabloid journalism. Others might marvel if such stories were better suited only for the most ridiculous supermarket tabloids. If one were to believe what was written then, the entire population of Gallup, New Mexico should have disappeared from the face of the earth by now. Helping to fuel SRIC’s current hysteria over uranium mining, the environmental group has been arguing that HRI’s proposed ISL uranium project near the Church Rock boundary of the Navajo reservation would cause groundwater contamination, perhaps with the same gravity as previous tailings. to spill. In a sense, they seem to be evoking bad memories of that stroke. “He’s very good at using the media,” HRI’s Craig Bartels sighed. “There are some people who talk a lot,” Bartels explained while describing SRIC’s opposition to his company’s ISL operation, “especially Chris Shuey, who markets himself as a journalist.”

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) did not attach much importance to the sensationalism of the local media. The following was excerpted from their official report on the uranium tailings spill:

o “The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in cooperation with the Church Rock community, found no documented human consumption of river water. CDC selected six Navajo people who were likely exposed to spilled contaminants and analyzed them at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where they were found to contain amounts of radioactive material normally found in the human body.” Recommendation: No further action is required.

o “No public, private, or municipal wells producing water for domestic use or livestock watering facilities were affected by the spill. Wells that draw water solely from sandstone or limestone aquifers will likely never be affected by spill contaminants.”

o “Based on limited testing by CDC, the additional radiation risk from consuming local livestock is small. The risk is about the same as the increased risk of cosmic radiation from moving from sea level to 5,000 feet.” Tall”.

o “Computer modeling identified inhalation as the most important route of radiation exposure to man from the spill. However, airborne dust sampling along the Pork River in Gallup shortly after the spill showed only levels of background radioactivity. In addition, one year after the spill, levels of radioactivity in the Puerco River sediments were significantly reduced due to dilution with uncontaminated river sediments.”

The Church Rock incident was reported in the “Journal of Health Physics” (July 1984: Vol 47, No. 1) in an article titled “Assessment of Human Exposure to Radionuclides from a Release of Uranium Mill Tailings and mine dewatering effluents”. .” This report was written by two staff members from the US Centers for Disease Control, two staff members from the New Mexico Department of Health and Environment, and one staff member from the Environmental Protection Agency of the US Two powerful conclusions were reached in this report:

“A review of state and federal regulations related to ingestion doses calculated from the Church Rock data indicated that the spill did not exceed exposure limits or chronic exposure to mine dewatering effluents.”

“In light of the currently known cancer incidence and mortality risks associated with levels of radionuclides measured at Church Rock and Gallup, we conclude that the exposed populations are too small for researchers to detect increases in cancer mortality with levels “acceptable statistical power. In fact, it can be misleading to set up a (cancer) registry with prior knowledge of the low probability of detecting increases in mortality.”

Despite these scientific reports, Chris Shuey continued to promote the “Puerco River Education” project until 1986. “The Gallup Independent” helped promote this panic and headlined a story, “Don’t Drink Hog Water.” In an article dated May 8 (1986), coming (conveniently) from Albuquerque, where Chris Shuey resides, the reporter wrote: “What little water there is in the Puerco River these days should not be consumed by man or by animals, according to the Southwest Albuquerque Research and Information Center.”

Perhaps to strengthen his experience as a health authority, Mr. Shuey earned a Master’s in Public Health from the University of New Mexico, across the street from SRIC headquarters. In his thesis, Shuey authored a comprehensive review of the literature on “Biomarkers of Kidney Injury: Challenges for Uranium Exposure Studies” (presented April 29, 2002). After submitting this article, Shuey came up with the singular claim that uranium causes kidney cancer.

On its website, the American Cancer Society lists smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle as the main risk factors that increase the chances of getting kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma). Occupational exposure to certain chemicals can also increase risk. Scientific studies found that they could include: asbestos, cadmium (a type of metal), some herbicides, benzene, and organic solvents, particularly trichlorethylene. The American Cancer Society does not mention that uranium exposure causes kidney cancer. However, cadmium is another story.

The problem of first coming to a conclusion and then investigating the facts to confirm your preconceived notion negates the scientific process. For example, Shuey dances around the subject of cadmium throughout his report, but fails to correlate burning household garbage with the dangers of dioxins and cadmium when it comes to kidney-related issues and possible cancers. It appears that Shuey may have failed to include the largest single source of toxic air emissions, which occurred in New Mexico prior to June 1, 2004, as a possible cause of kidney toxicity: garbage burning. At this time, New Mexico remains one of the few states that has not prohibited the burning of electronic equipment. Such burning garbage reportedly releases high concentrations of cadmium into the air. Could it be that something as obvious as cadmium concentrations could be the risk factor leading to kidney cancer rather than the presumed uranium?

According to research scientist Dalway Swaine (Trace Elements in Coal, Butterworths: 1990), cadmium is a toxic trace element in coal. Coal combustion contributes one tenth of the Cd to the atmosphere, as do volcanoes, and is considered a minor source of atmospheric cadmium. The problem might not be the uranium at all, but other chemicals. However, fundraisers to reduce cadmium emissions, let alone fundraisers against coal mining, might not lead to sold-out celebrity dinners in Santa Fe.

Not surprisingly, SRIC seems to be less concerned with public health than with its anti-nuclear agenda. In general, the public’s reaction to an environmentalist is a warm and confused sentiment: “Wow, here’s someone who really cares about our future.” SRIC has worked closely with the third world-like Navajo Nation, which instantly attracts sympathy from any liberal-minded individual. In fact, when interviewed Shuey, he was on the reservation in a meeting. His publicly shown concern for the Navajo is commendable. At the same time, one must also consider that if the most common cause of death among Navajo adults is alcohol abuse (often accompanied by driving), why hasn’t SRIC worked more closely to reduce that public health problem? ?

Visit the outskirts of any reservation and you’ll find plenty of bottles of beer, liquor, and wine. A literate stop near Crownpoint, New Mexico, took on the persona of a dump. Where are SRIC’s cries for mercy for the abused Navajo? More Navajos have died as a result of drunk car accidents than fifty years of uranium mining. But then again, that may be of little concern to an environmental group. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr. could make better use of Mr. Shuey by asking him, “Can you help us with our alcohol problem?”

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