John Contreras of UDOH presented the results of a study, which shows elevated incidence of cancer in the Monticello area. Many local residents, including members of the Monticello City Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure Committee (VMTE), believe that the cancer is caused by a uranium and vanadium processing mill, which operated south of Monticello during the Cold War era.
The VMTE committee presented and read the names of 510 local residents who have suffered from cancer and called them “Cold War heroes.” In addition, a yellow balloon was released for each of the 510 local residents. The balloons filled the sky above the high school after the release.
Many of those who attended the event expressed amazement at the number of potential mill tailings victims. The 510 balloons filled the lobby of the high school auditorium and lined the sides and stage of the meeting hall.
Representatives from a host of elected officials and federal and state agencies attended the event, which was held on June 12 at the Monticello High School auditorium.
The VMTE committee is hoping to increase the pressure on the federal government to include Monticello residents in a program that provides screening and treatment for those who may have been affected by the mill tailings.
“We are making headway,” said Fritz Pipkin, a member of the VMTE committee. “It is just a slow process with the government.”