Thursday, November 15, 2012

Navajo Indians and Talvivaara

I just read Karl Grossmans excellent piece "Fracking and Radium, the Silvery-White Monster" .

There was something that reminded me of our very own  fresh environmental catastrophy in Talvivaara nickel-uranium mine in Northern Finland. It was the indians. Navajo tribe had been used as working labor to dig  uranium from mines in their own homeland. It was uranium for the Manhattan project - the Bomb in 1940ies. Nobody told them about the dangers of radiation. So they begin to get lugn cancers and other cancers in 1960ies. But they didn't get any compensation before1990ies. And the compensation was minimal - if you needed a lugn transplant that costed USD 300 000 so you could get perhaps slightly over USD 100 000 as compensation.

So the ground water got contaminated by uranium as did the rivers. That's exactly the same that happens now here in Finland. A waste water pond having 185 000 kg of uranium and other toxic metals gets empty and the contaminated water runs downriver polluting two routes of rivers and lakes. There was 350 micrograms of uranium in every single liter of water in Lumijoki -river a few days ago. You shouldn't drink that kind of water. You shouldn't go fishing there. You shouldn't have sauna with that water.

I hope that the Sami people, the original inhabitants of Lapland and northern Finland, will be critical  enough to demand not to give licenses to mines like Talvivaara to ruin the beautiful nature and landscape of Northern Finland and their traditional way of life. Uranium should stay deep inside the bedrock. Navajos got really a sad story to tell us. But do we learn?



  1. Sadly, the people living here don't have a say, the environment officials do.

    In 2010, it was found out that the environment minister of Finland, Paula Lehtomäki, owns 300k worth of Talvivaara stock.

    She, of course, does not take any responsibility for the situation, even tho she is the one who gave Talvivaara permission to start mining in the first place.

    All these officials here are just blaming each other and/or the company, but nobody seems to focus on making the boss of Talvivaara strap on a rad protection suit and cleaning up his spills.

    Instead, we got 18 to 25 year old boys, who are forced to clean up this spill without pay, or actually any real training or protection for the task.

    Sadly EU doesn't pose sanctions against Finnish forced labour and political imprisonment, in case if you don't want to learn how to kill people or work for free, so I don't think anyone will do anything about Talvivaara either, most likely some fatcats will just get a bit richer and Lapland will turn into a wasteland.

  2. It's sad and we can only hope for the best and keep Talvivaara a part of public discussion as long as possible and try to share more information about the real risks of this accident. Losing large areas for hundreds of years even for thousands of years makes a strong impact on people and when they realize that the damage that have been made cannot be repaired they may be more critical to reopening of Talvivaara or starting other mining projects.