Uranium is a radioactive heavy metal that is mined, processed, and sold primarily for use in nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
Exposure to radiation leads to extremely damaging health impacts, including cancer (lung, pancreatic, colorectal), respiratory disease, liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, anemia, reproductive issues, birth defects, and many others. Radiation is especially dangerous for pregnant women and children.
Learn the basics about radioactivity and radiation.
Learn the basics of radiation’s impact on the body.
Read more about health impacts from uranium and radiation exposure from Beyond Nuclear
Uranium Mining Process
- Strip mining/open pit. Digging a hole in the ground and extracting the rock containing the uranium. This was the method they used at Riley Pass and others. Titan Uranium is proposing an open pit mine at Sheep Mountain.
- In-situ leach (non-acid). Pumping a solution into the aquifer to attract the uranium, pumping that solution back up, extracting the uranium, and finally pumping the waste water back into the aquifer. This is a very dirty and radioactive process. Nowhere in the world have they restored an aquifer to pre-mining condition after mining in this way. This is the method proposed for Dewey-Burdock.
- In-situ leach (ACID). The first acid leach uranium mine in the US is in operation: the Strata Ross Project just 10 miles west of Mato Tipila/”Devil’s Tower.” Here, they pump sulfuric acid into the aquifer to pull out the uranium. This is a highly toxic and destructive process.
To learn more about acid leach uranium mining specifically, see:
Waters to be concerned about: Pass Creek, Beaver Creek, Cheyenne River, White River, Little Missouri River, and ALL AQUIFERS and HEADWATERS.
The violence of uranium mining in the Black Hills region is related to the violence of uranium mining and processing elsewhere in the world.
Three Mile Island