Uranium contamination on Navajo Nation is worse than thought

Uranium contamination on the Navajo Nation is worse than previously thought, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed.

The EPA has vowed to clean up more than 500 uranium sites on the reservation. But the process is moving very slowly even as more abandoned mines are being discovered.

“It is shocking — it’s all over the reservation,” Jared Blumenfeld, a regional administrator for the EPA, told The New York Times. "I think everyone, even the Navajos themselves, have been shocked about the number of mines that were both active and abandoned.”

A year ago, the EPA said it has spent $100 million between 2008 and 2012 to address high priority sites on the reservation. One of them is in the Red Water Pond Road community in New Mexico, where cleanup is estimated to cost $45 million.

The project still requires federal review and it could take another two years before cleanup begins. In the meantime, residents might have to relocate in order to avoid health and environmental problems.

“This is where we’re used to being, traditionally, culturally” Bertha Nez told the paper. “Nobody told us it was unsafe. Nobody warned us we would be living all this time with this risk.”

Get the Story:
Amid Toxic Waste, a Navajo Village Could Lose Its Land (The New York Times 2/20)

Relevant Documents:
Press Release: EPA Details Results of $100M Federal Effort to Clean up Navajo Uranium Contamination | Federal Actions to Address Impacts of Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation

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EPA releases report on cleanup of uranium on Navajo Nation (1/30)

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