NAVAJO NATION – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a report summarizing 2007-2012 attempts to utilize over $100 million to address environmental hazards and health risks from legacy uranium mining and milling on the Navajo reservation.
According to the study, EPA and Navajo Nation EPA surveyed 878 structures. When they were found to pose a health risk, the EPA demolished and rebuilt or provided financial compensation for the buildings. 34 contaminated buildings were addressed and contaminated soil from outside 18 structures was removed.\
240 unregulated water sources were tested with 29 exceeding the drinking water standard for uranium or radionuclides. All contaminated wells were shut down. The $26.7 million that was invested in 14 projects that will provide piped water to 808 homes. The Sweetwater transmission main extension project will improve water quality to 1,017 homes. The EPA provided $2.6 million to implement a water-hauling program to serve up to 3,000 residents who live in remote areas.
Agencies surveyed 521 mine claims; 473 showed hazardous radiation levels at least twice background and more detailed assessments will be done at 45 “high priority” mines.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said in a press release, “On behalf of the Navajo people I appreciate the leadership of Rep. Henry Waxman and the members of Congress who requested a multi-agency response to the Navajo Nation’s testimony presented in 2007. While there have been accomplishments that improved some conditions, we still need strong support from the Congress and the federal agencies to fund the clean-up of contaminated lands and water, and to address basic public health concerns due to the legacy of uranium mining and milling.”
Read more at EPA Reports on Navajo Uranium Pollution