Southeastern Utah tribe worries about contamination

By Emma Penrod, originally posted on November 14, 2016


White Mesa • Concerns about possible water contamination have some residents of a remote Utah town considering relocation.

Data suggest that an aquifer located below the White Mesa uranium mill contains multiple contaminants, but there’s disagreement about whether the pollution is related to natural hazards, or coming from the current mill or past mining and industry in southeastern Utah.

And regardless the source, residents say, state, federal and even tribal leaders don’t seem concerned about the potential threat to the health and way of life of the just-under 300 people who call White Mesa home.

“You’re giving us all this information, but what’s really going to happen?” asked resident David Yearicks during an October town hall to address the contamination. “If the answer is the community fighting for change … that sounds like a Band-Aid over a gushing wound.”

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