Titration: Radioactive Waste, Princeton, & the Navajo Nation, Travis Chai Andrade UG '23 and Brooke Kennedy UG '24 (3958635)
Nuclear Princeton, in collaboration with Twiddle Productions, created a short animated film called Titration: Radioactive Waste, Princeton, and the Navajo Nation examining how Princeton directly and indirectly contributed to the destructive consequences of nuclear research on Native communities. The film centers the late Princeton chemistry professor Nathaniel Furman, who was involved in the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb. He contributed to the development of the ether extraction process for the preparation of uranium oxide, and the film contextualizes his research within broader histories of uranium mining and Native land. Furman’s work in the early- and mid-20th century directly contributed to contamination in the Navajo Nation where incredibly detrimental effects on Navajo environmental and human health still remain today. The Navajo Nation is currently home to over 500 uranium mines and refinement mills which continue to leach radioactivity into the environment. It is estimated that almost 1/3 of individuals in the Navajo Nation use water from sources that contain uranium or arsenic. Cancer rates, mortality rates, and birth defects among Navajos are disproportionately elevated. In addition to the Navajo Nation, the creation of the nuclear bomb has devastated numerous other Indigenous communities, including Native tribes of the Columbia Basin, Western Shoshone, Iñupiat Village of Point Hope, the Aleut Native Corporation, and more. Titration aims to create a community-accessible resource to raise awareness of the detrimental effects of nuclear weapons on Indigenous communities and Princeton’s involvement in these projects.