Two At A Time: Cleanup Of Navajo Uranium Mines Slow

August 09, 2017

Many Navajo say the cleanup of more than 500 abandoned uranium mines on the reservation has been slow going. The federal government has just awarded a contract to clean up two of the mine sites.

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the $3.85 million contract to Navajo-owned Arrow Indian Contractors. The company plans to dig up the contaminated soil and improve the roads in northwestern New Mexico near Crownpoint.

The EPA said funding for the project comes from a $1 billion settlement reached in 2015 with Tronox, formerly Kerr McGee, for the cleanup of almost 50 abandoned uranium mines.

From 1944 to 1986 mining companies extracted 30 million tons of uranium ore from Navajo land to make atomic weapons. Many Navajo have since died of kidney failure and cancer, conditions linked to uranium contamination, and the tribe has banned any mining activity.