Deb White Plume Pine Ridge Reservation tribes cite unusually high rates of cancer, birth defects, and other health problems by Conor Gallagher / Earth Island Journal In 2008, Debra White Plume, an Oglala Lakota environmental justice activist, received a piece of mail with no return address. Inside was a 1989 letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from John Peterson, an exploration geologist who had worked on what is now the Crow Butte uranium mine in northwestern Nebraska. In the letter, Peterson describes how uranium mining in the area would almost certainly contaminate the regional water supply if it went forward. “I believe certain aspects of the geology of the Crow Butte uranium deposits have been deliberately overlooked or suppressed so that mining could proceed and profits be gained regardless of the effect upon local ground water quality,” he wrote. Peterson’s warnings were disregarded, mining at the site began two years later, in 1991, and it continues to this day.
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