Team Problem Statement

In 1979 at the United Nuclear Corporations’ uranium processing mill in Northwest New Mexico, a dam broke releasing more than 1,100 tons of uranium miming wastes-tailings along with 100 million gallons of radioactive water into the Pipeline Arroyo and went downstream along the Rio Puerco. The “Church Rock Tailings Spill” is the second largest accident in the United States that released radioactive materials.

There has been minimal attention to the health risks associated with mining and environmental contamination in the Northwest Region. There are proposed uranium mining sites in McKinley County and we want to ensure that people are aware of the health risks associated to either working in the mines or secondary exposure from family members bringing home contaminated clothes, air pollutants, etc. Also, there has been inadequate clean up of currently contaminated areas.

Vision Statement

All people in McKinley County live in a safe, healthy, and prosperous environment that honors health-in-all policies and leaves a legacy of responsible leadership grounded in equity.

Mission Statement

Using a health equity lens, the McKinley Community PLACE MATTERS team seeks to change systems that perpetuate environmental health disparities related to the impacts of institutional racism and multi-generational trauma, by empowering participating communities within the county to impact equitable policy change.


  • Long-term: Heal the individual and community health along with restoring the environment with Traditional and Western values and medicine.
  • Intermediate: Use the Navajo Nation Fundamental Laws as the foundation to shift conversations around uranium mining and justice.
  • Short-term: Conduct a health impact assessment


1.      To educate decision makers and general public about the poor health outcomes related to uranium mining.

2.      To conduct a health impact assessment looking at the following determinants of health: environmental pollution and contamination; displacement and relocation; community efficacy; and cultural relevance of the land to holistic health.

3.      To support the community in building a multipurpose facility to serve as a space to heal, gather for meetings, and provide education.

For more information please contact:

Team lead: Jordon Johnson