September 13, 2010 - This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into two enforcement actions, both of which will contribute towards cleaning up uranium contamination at the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation.
In one settlement, Rio Algom Mining LLC, a subsidiary of Canadian corporation BHP Billiton, has agreed to control releases of radium (a decay product of uranium) from the Quivira Mine Site, near Gallup, N.M. In addition, the company is to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the levels of contamination at the site. The total cost for this work is estimated to be approximately $1 million.
Under the terms of a separate settlement, the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), will begin a comprehensive investigation of the levels of uranium and other contaminants in the waste, soils and groundwater at the Tuba City Dump Site in Arizona. They will also evaluate the feasibility of a range of cleanup actions.
"Uranium mining has left a toxic legacy, and we are working as partners with the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe and other federal agencies to clean up contaminated homes, mines and water supplies," said Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator for EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. "These actions are just one part of a coordinated plan that has already resulted in the replacement of 14 homes, the assessment of more than 200 mines, and funding for water systems that will serve over 3,000 people with clean water."