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Environment

EPA Begins Cleanup Of Navajo Uranium Mines

A sample of Uranium Ore.
Photo courtesy the Environmental Protection Agency.
A sample of Uranium Ore.
EPA Begins Cleanup of Navajo Uranium Mines
The Environmental Protection Agency and the responsible mining companies are cleaning up three uranium mines on the Navajo Nation this month. This phase of the five-year plan is expected to cost more than $7 million.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the responsible mining companies are cleaning up three uranium mines on the Navajo Nation this month. This phase of the five-year plan is expected to cost more than $7 million.

For decades nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from Navajo lands under leases with the Navajo Nation. Today the mines are closed, but a legacy of uranium contamination remains, including more than 500 abandoned uranium mines.

This month crews will focus on the cleanup of contaminated soil in Cove, Ariz.; Casamero Lake and Church Rock, N.M.

The EPA has labeled the Northeast Church Rock Mine the highest priority. It was the largest underground uranium mine in the U.S. A bigger $44 million cleanup of this mine is expected to begin in 2016, if its approved by federal officials.