Building Connections to Last

What does July 16 mean to you? If you are part of the Navajo nation, or have connections near Church Rock, New Mexico, that date might stir a heartbreaking memory of a preventable disaster that continues to have disastrous impacts.

Over 40 years ago, the earthen dam of a nuclear waste disposal pond broke near Church Rock and dumped tons of solid, radioactive waste and 90 million gallons of acidic and radioactive liquids into the Rio Puerco. The resulting contamination of the land, air and ground water affected nine Navajo municipalities.

The toxic and cumulative effects of this human-caused disaster have impacted the Navajo people for generations — especially in the form of such chronic health problems as asthma as well as a higher incidence of miscarriages, birth defects, and liver and pancreatic cancer. Each year, hundreds of Diné families and their allies come together near the tragic anniversary to pray, to heal and to act, together.

One Great Hour of Sharing connects us with these families through MASE, the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment. MASE’s mission envisions respectful, peaceful communities cherishing a healthy environment.

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