The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) hosted five graduate students from the Indigenous Food, Energy, and Water Security and Sovereignty (Indige-FEWSS) program at the University of Arizona, as well as two journalism students and a university employee on a tour of the Tuba City, Arizona, Disposal Site on March 8. Indige-FEWSS has the goal of increasing the diversity of the workforce in food, energy, and water security, while addressing challenges in indigenous communities in these fields. Chris Yazzie, a University of Arizona environmental engineering Ph.D. student from Tuba City and an Indige-FEWSS student, requested the tour.
Peter Lemke, the LM Support site lead for Tuba City, led the tour along with Jeff Towers, the Tuba City facility lead. Lemke said the students were particularly interested in the extent of contamination at the site and the groundwater treatment system.
Lemke said the site hosts a large number of middle school tours, but as far as he can remember, this was the first tour by a group of university students.
“The University of Arizona students’ visit to the Tuba City site allowed us to reach a new audience in academia,” said Lemke. “It’s a connection that we will nurture, and could lead to future collaboration in environmental studies, which will be beneficial to the LM site for groundwater remediation and monitoring and to the students in their academic and professional careers. The visit also provided the students with information about the site that they can further share within their community.”
Yazzie said he hopes the tour may spark a collaborative relationship between Indige-FEWSS and the Tuba City site.
“The work going on at the DOE site in Tuba City fits perfectly with the goals and mission of Indige-FEWSS, as well as the interests of the students in engineering processes and resource management on Navajo land,” Yazzie said. “Hopefully, we can do a tour with another group of students in the future and explore more opportunities for partnership.”