Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance

Point of Contact:

Location: Milan, NM

Website: swuraniumimpacts.org/bvda/

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Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance (BVDA) was founded in 1992 by residents in the Milan, N.M. area who live next to and downstream of the Homestake/Barrick Gold uranium mill tailings facility, one of the first designated superfund sites. BVDA advocates for comprehensive cleanup of groundwater contaminated by uranium mining and milling facilities in the Ambrosia Lake-Milan area. BVDA also advocates for compensation of residents downstream of the Homestake tailings facility, who face health concerns from water and soil contamination, as well as ambient radiation from the tailings pile. Some Milan residents also face health concerns from working at the Ambrosia Lake uranium mines, north of Milan. BVDA became a registered 501(c)3 organization in 2006. BVDA is a coalition member of the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE).

For more information about the Homestake Mill Tailings Facility and BVDA’s history, see their factsheet.

Successes

  • In 1982, community members that would later form BVDA sued the Homestake Mining Company for water contamination from the uranium mill. They received small settlements and the promise of clean water for 10 years from a municipal source.  After 10 years, residents were assured the water in their wells would be restored. The ten years was over in 1993. As of 2020, those wells have still not been restored.
  • In 1997, BVDA successfully stopped construction of a medical waste incinerator that had been proposed to be built near Milan, NM.
  • Throughout their history, BVDA has demanded accountability from the companies and government agencies involved in the uranium facilities in their community. They have done this through actions like securing public hearings, submitting public and expert testimony, and engaging in grassroots advocacy. 
  • After joining with the other groups in MASE, BVDA was able to hire technical experts, greatly increasing their credibility and influence in the eyes of the Environmental Protection Agency and Nuclear Regulatory Commission–as well as political leaders.

Current Projects

  • Working with the US EPA to reassess background levels of contaminants of concern (COCs), particularly uranium and selenium in the local water and land. Establishing original levels of COCs will necessitate full and comprehensive clean-up of contamination. 
  • Supporting H.R. 3783 and S. 947, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019. This legislation would expand the communities eligible for compensation and increase the amount of compensation available.
  • BVDA is engaged in ongoing work to get a full Environmental Impact Study of the Homestake/Barrick Gold uranium mill tailings facility and to relocate the tailings to a safe permanent regional repository.

Opportunities for Collaboration

  • Nuclear energy: BVDA is interested in working with other groups to oppose nuclear energy. BVDA has been working to bring attention to the negative aspects of nuclear energy production including: carbon emissions caused by processing uranium ore, the impacts of uranium mining of communities, and the economics of nuclear energy production. 
  • H.R. 3783 and S. 947: BVDA has been supporting Post ‘71 Uranium Workers in working with their members of Congress on RECA issues for years, especially with Sen. Heinrich, and is interested in collaborating with other impacted communities and nuclear policy groups on RECA expansion advocacy.

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