Navajo Group Petitions Human Rights Commission in Effort to Halt Uranium Mining

This story was filed in May in the NYTimes (here’s the link), with televised news coverage on KRQE News (link here).

An excerpt from the NYTimes coverage:

In a last attempt to deep-six a controversial project to mine uranium near two Navajo communities in northwestern New Mexico, a Navajo environmental group is taking its fight to the global stage.

Tomorrow, Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, with the help of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, will submit a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arguing that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to grant Hydro Resources Inc., a license to mine uranium ore near Churchrock and Crown Point, N.M., is a violation of international laws.

The groups contend the mines, first permitted by NRC in 1999, could contaminate drinking water for 15,000 Navajo residents in and around the two communities, which lie just outside the Navajo Nation. In 2005, the Navajo’s tribal government passed a law prohibiting uranium mining within its borders.

“By its acts and omissions that have contaminated and will continue to contaminate natural resources in the Dine communities of Crownpoint and Church Rock, the State has violated Petitioners’ human rights and breached its obligations under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man,” the petition reads.

“We’re very hopeful,” said Eric Jantz, an attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center who is filing the petition on behalf of ENDAUM. “I think we have very solid claims. It’s always been our client’s position that clean water is a human right.”