A Radioactive World!
The Navajo tribe people live in the basin of the Colorado River Gorge in the South-Western part of the US. They share the story about two types of yellow dusts with their guests. The first one is considered as a Gift from the Almighty or the Symbol of Life on Earth: Pollen-grain; without which the Earth would be devoid of flowers and fruits! The second type of yellow dust is the cause of Destruction of the Human race: Uranium! The present generation of Navajo tribe is threatened due to Uranium contamination.
The 1789 discovery of Uranium in the mineral Pitchblende is credited to Martin Heinrich Klaproth, who had named the new element after the recently discovered planet Uranus. The metal is transient, radioactive, and with 92 as its Atomic Number. However, Klaproth was blissfully unaware of the fact that the Age of Nuclear Reactions would begin within five decades of his discovery! He was also unable to imagine that Hiroshima and Nagasaki would experience Disaster!
Uranium ore is found in the mine as a mixture of three types of minerals and rocks. To get one tonne of Uranium, 1,000 tonnes of ore have to be mined. Then, Uranium Oxide is produced through chemical reaction. Of this, only 0.711% is Uranium-235 that is used in Nuclear Fission. The rest is unusable Uranium-238! The usable uranium is stored as a yellow cake… 75% of which is used in Nuclear Reactors. For the Navajos, this yellow cake stands for the yellow dust!
Uranium mining had emerged as one of the world’s most lucrative businesses after the creation of the Atomic Bomb that was a success story of the Manhattan Project during the WWII. The Manhattan Project gave birth to some of the most romantic stories in the history of physics. However, the ruthless history of colonisation and destruction of various tribes, associated with it, have been suppressed.
Robert Rich Sharp, an English Geologist, had discovered the existence of Uranium deposit in Shinkolobwe, a radium and uranium mine, in the Haut-Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1915. From there, a huge quantity of Uranium was transported to the US. In her publication ‘Spies in the Congo’, Susan Williams narrated the details of activities involving Uranium Mining. The Uranium was smuggled in a completely unprotected manner in various ways, with the help of locals in Shinkolobwe. The people of this particular region still carry the poison in their bodies, as the yellow dusts are pushing them towards annihilation! Just like Congo, a mine is situated near Canada’s Great Bear Lake where Uranium was discovered in 1930. This mine, too, supplied the chemical element to the Manhattan Project…
Tribal people are the most affected by Uranium Pollution in the world, as they usually get displaced because of mining activities. On top of it, there is Radioactivity! The unusable Uranium-238 of the Uranium ore causes Radioactivity in adjacent areas. Furthermore, various radioactive metals, such as Boron, Thorium, Radium and Polonium, are produced by breaking down heavy Uranium-238. These affect the structure of the DNA in human cells, and produce harmful mutation. Hence, the people, more than often, suffer from cancer and other fatal diseases. Most importantly, people are forced to carry this mutation generation after generation! And, the final step of Uranium-238 fission produces toxic Lead or Lead-206 that poisons all the natural resources.
Ancestral warnings are frequently mentioned in ancient Australian tribal and folk songs. According to those songs: poisons are hidden deep inside the Earth, and they should be left there. The Rosa Luxemburg Institute of Germany unveiled the world’s first Uranium Atlas at an International Webinar on July 18, 2020 in order to sensitise the Global Community about this warning. The book contains a map of Uranium Mining around the world. It helps readers get an idea about the quantity of Uranium mined by a country since WWII, the mines that are still in operation, and the ones that have been shut down. The publication further discusses about those people, who have been directly affected by uranium mining…
The date of publication is also very important. The first nuclear weapon was successfully tested on July 16, 1945 in the desert of New Mexico. It is popularly known as the Trinity Test. However, few people still remember the accident at Church Rock Uranium Mill in 1979. The Uranium mill spill occurred in New Mexico on July 16, 1979, when United Nuclear Corporation’s tailings disposal pond at its mill in Church Rock breached its dam. And, the accident claimed the lives of many indigenous inhabitants. Hence, the book was published on July 16 in an attempt to place Radioactivity and Endangered Species at the forefront of human history!
Asia has a special place in the Uranium Atlas. How Uranium exploration began in northern Russia and Kazakhstan during the Cold War has also been discussed in the publication. There have been several movements against the use of nuclear weapons, as well as against Uranium-contamination, around the world since the early 1970’s. Multiple organisations, such as Friends of Earth International, have come into existence. The movement is currently being carried out by the Nuclear Free Future Foundation, Beyond Nuclear, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and some other organisations. Still, hundreds of Nuclear Reactors are operating in different parts of the Globe! And, the mines are readily providing these reactors with Uranium. Yellow dusts are still seen to be constantly poisoning the soil, forests, water and lives…
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