EPA Awards Navajo Nation Funds for Abandoned Uranium Mine Cleanup

Jul 12, 2018

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has allocated nearly $900,000 to the Navajo Nation for the cleanup of abandoned uranium mines. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s the latest effort to remediate hundreds of sites on the reservation.

This abandoned uranium mine site near Cameron, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation is one of more than 500 on the reservation.
Credit National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

The funds will allow the Navajo Nation Abandoned Mine Lands program to further inspect the uranium mines and assist the EPA with removing contaminated soil. It’ll also help train Navajo staff members on federal Superfund cleanup laws to tap additional federal resources.

According to EPA officials, funding is available to cleanup nearly half of the more than 500 abandoned mines. Many, however, have yet to be assessed and to date, only a handful have been fully cleaned up.

The EPA has awarded $1.2 million to the Navajo abandoned mines program since 2016. The tribe is also using money from legal settlements to fund the cleanup, which could take decades and exceed a billion dollars.