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Uranium Contaminates Water In The West

(AP) - Uranium is the stuff of nuclear fuel for power plants and atom bombs.

It increasingly is showing in drinking water systems in major farming regions of the U.S. West - a natural though unexpected byproduct of irrigation, drought and the overpumping of natural underground water reserves.

An Associated Press investigation in California's central farm valleys - along with the U.S. Central Plains, among the areas most affected - found authorities are doing little to inform the public at large of the risk.

Government authorities say long-term exposure to uranium can damage kidneys and raise cancer risks.

Entities ranging from state agencies to tiny rural schools are scrambling to deal with hundreds of tainted public wells.