2023 Digital Video Storytelling, Series, Small/Medium Newsroom winner

A Uranium Ghost Town in the Making Video Series

About the Project

Time and again, mining company Homestake and government agencies promised to clean up waste from decades of uranium processing. It didn’t happen. Now they’re trying a new tactic: buying out homeowners to avoid finishing the job.

A uranium mill owned by Homestake Mining Company of California processed and refined ore mined nearby. The waste it left behind leaked uranium and selenium into groundwater and released the cancer-causing gas radon into the air. The contamination continued to spread even after the mill closed in 1990.

The Homestake site is part of a bigger problem: For four decades, more than 250 million tons of radioactive uranium mill waste has been largely overlooked but continued to pose a public health threat. At Homestake, which was among the largest mills, the company is bulldozing a community in order to walk away.

Those who do sell are required to sign agreements to refrain from disparaging Homestake and absolve the company of liability, even though illnesses caused by exposure to radioactive waste can take decades to manifest.

Judges Comments

A strong series with a very personal lens made stronger by the inclusion of community perspectives directly impacted by corporate choices.