[Please note: The OSM Summary Draft should be coming out late March/early April 2006. Another comment period will follow. Time to get your comments ready to stop Peabody Energy's quest for that Life-Of-Mine lease on Black Mesa that they think they have "in the bag."]


"Poison pill" wells threaten Navajo Aquifer purity  
March 2, 2006


A dirty little secret, one long hidden in small asides within various (U.S. Office of Surface Mining) and Peabody Coal engineering and oversight reports, has been uncovered.

Peabody’s N-Aquifer wells have been engineered to contain and obscure a poison pill.

Specifically, in order to reduce the amount of water taken from the N-Aquifer and to mask its exceedingly slow rate of natural recharge, Peabody Energy, on advice of its engineers, used perforated – rather than solid – pipe to case their wells.

As anticipated by the engineers, the perforations caused the pumps to draw up not only N-Aquifer waters but also, by siphon action, some waters from the lesser quality Dakota Aquifer (D-Aquifer) which is located directly above the Navajo Aquifer (N-Aquifer).

But, there is an even darker suspect of this fraud.

What Peabody and its engineers knew and quietly declined to address, what the Hopi and Diné peoples of Black Mesa were inadequately educated to appreciate, was that when the pumps were cycled off for maintenance, trouble shooting, accidents, and relief, those same perforations, now by leeching action, drained untold quantities of contaminants from the D-Aquifer into the N-Aquifer.

What is not known by the peoples of Black Mesa, what was not studied by the Office of Surface Mining, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal agencies charged with the mine oversight and trustee protection of our peoples, and what Peabody today is unwilling to discuss, is how significant this contamination – which they have admitted – has been and how much more will occur now that the wells no longer support the mine’s extractive and slurry activities.

Having now learned about this carefully engineered dimension of Peabody’s pumping activities and the threat it poses to the security of our sacred water supply, Black Mesa Trust must accept that its mission to protect the N-Aquifer and the well-being of the peoples and cultures which depend upon it may not be complete.

We need to know what damage has occurred and what is likely in the future so that we can inform those who depend upon us for information.

But now, we might even learn about the future impacts to our waters. This is because funding for N-Aquifer and C-Aquifer monitoring has been significantly reduced. As a result the following planned activities for FY 2006 N-Aquifer monitoring will not occur:

  • Annual measurement of groundwater levels from 10 wells.
  • Stream flow monitoring of Laguna Creek.
  • Water sampling and chemical analysis of 6 well sites.
  • Publication of annual report (a web-only product will be produced).
  • Outreach to local chapter houses (reduced).
  • Management and oversight of the program (reduced).

This is happening at the worst possible time. Grassroots people are demanding an aggressive oversight by federal agencies on the environmental impacts of Peabody’s mining operations on Black Mesa, as well as a full third-party investigation on N-Aquifer well engineering design, operating procedures, and contamination.

So once again, we must educate empower, and energize our peoples, our political leaders, our supporters, and allies near and far, and our immediate neighbors here on the Colorado Plateau to demand an accounting of the damage already done and the immediate undertaking of corrective action, if needed, to secure the health of the N-Aquifer for ourselves and for the generations yet to come.

Only with such effort and data can the peoples of Black Mesa act wisely in protecting our sacred N-Aquifer and the rituals, teachings, and life ways, which depend upon its well-being.

Vernon Masayesva
Executive Director
Black Mesa Trust
Kykotsmovi, Ariz.


Originally found in the Navajo Times



Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. posted without profit or payment for non-profit research, educational, and archival purposes only.






the wolf is my messenger


For access to other pages at this site, please use the dropdown menu below.



"We will be known by the tracks
we leave behind."
Dakota proverb


posted 11 march 2006 by louve14