Letter to the Editor:

A group of responsible Panhandle women have undertaken a grassroots effort to move our community beyond yellowcake production. The NRC’s Atomic Licensing Board is convening an evidentiary hearing that will address 9 contentions to the renewal of Cameco Crow Butte Resources license to mill uranium in Dawes County Nebraska. Upon renewal Cameco intends to expand south toward the Niobrara River. The week long hearing takes place in Crawford’s Community Building at 1005 First St., Aug 24-28, 2015.

The Sisterhood Water Watch’s initial intent was to inform ourselves about uranium milling impacts on the White River valley communities. Our neighbors, members of the Oglala Lakota Nation produced a fact based documentary that chronicles a 10 year effort to alert the region of the impacts of uranium in situ leach processes. We soon discovered how hard it is to break the silence of industrial capture in our rural community. Cameco has a tight grip on civic, county, state agencies, and economic development leaderships. It seems leadership feels hobbled to resist what is perceived as our only way out of deepening rural poverty.

Women have for generations gather in diverse groups to talk about caring for children and elders. Screening the 57 minute “Crying Earth Rise Up!” documentary opened a door of safety that has area residents telling us about their health issues and worries about water, soils, crops and livestock. Residents involved with agritourism coalitions are detailing severe health problems associated with their rural wells. Lifelong citizens and those new to the area are astonished by the high cancer rate, autoimmune diseases, birth defects, mental illness and the early mortality rate. There are accounts of radiated uranium mill workers and downed crops because of air-born contamination caused by practices within the ISL location.

Lawyers are trying to disallow Linsey McLean’s expert testimony, as an environmental biochemist she will cite decades of vital environmental research. The Sisterhood Water Watch witnesses bright sparks of hope and trust emerge during our canvasing outreach. Professionals and hard-working people no longer deny that something has gone wrong with our health and welfare. We meet frustrated and desperate neighbors with compassion and patience because we recognize the worry they feel for their families’ financial future. Crawford area residents cannot and will not unlearn what modern science reveals. Citizens submit your comments and oppose the license renewal;

Say No to Expansion and Yes to Recovery!

Nancy Kile

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