Volunteers Go Door-To-Door To Alert Navajos About Spill

  • Marisa Demarco
  •  Friday, August 15, 2015
Shiprock

Caution tape strung tree-to-tree on the San Juan riverbank in Shiprock MARISA DEMARCO / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Not everyone on the Navajo Nation had heard about the Gold King Mine spill that happened more than a week ago, even though they might live along the San Juan River.

Henry Silentman is a spokesperson for the Incident Command Center in Shiprock. “Some of the older people, they didn’t know about the river spill,” he said. “A lot of the people are devastated that their livelihood is contaminated.”

The Navajo government set up three command centers on the reservation. And the first order of business? Awareness. Volunteers are going door-to-door, speaking in both Navajo and English, to inform people living along the San Juan about the spill.

Silentman said they’re trying to make sure people know not to go in the river or allow any animals to drink the water, especially since the discoloration upstream was not as prevalent in other areas. “We do mention that even if the color hasn’t changed, the water’s still bad,” he said, “and inform them that there are heavy metals within the water.”

Silentman said many people are devastated when they learn the news because they depend so heavily on the river.

A Region 9 representative said the Environmental Protection Agency expects to release results from tests conducted on the Navajo Nation on Saturday, Aug. 14—10 days after the spill.

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