It’s Wednesday, February 17, and the EPA has granted funding to clean up old uranium mines on Navajo Lands.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded contracts to three companies to clean up abandoned uranium mines on Navajo lands. The contracts, worth approximately $220 million over the next five years, will address more than 50 mining sites in New Mexico’s Grants Mining District and 10 chapters, or municipalities, on the Navajo Nation. Most of the funding for the cleanup comes from a $1 billion 2015 settlement with Tronox, the successor of the company that operated the mines.

For decades, Navajo workers, residents, and children have contended with contamination and radiation exposure from uranium mining operations in the region. The EPA worked with the Navajo Nation to create cleanup contracts that will benefit local communities. “We appreciate the U.S. EPA’s efforts to create incentives and opportunities for Navajo Nation residents,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez in a statement.

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In order to further the direct benefits of these contracts for Navajo residents, each of the companies will come up with workforce training programs for local workers. The cleanups are scheduled to begin later this year after the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency and federal EPA complete assessments.

“EPA continues to work with the Navajo Nation EPA and local communities to address the legacy of abandoned uranium mines,” said Deborah Jordan, acting regional administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest office in a press release. “These contract awards mark a significant step in this ongoing work.”

Cameron Oglesby

 

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