|Mariano Lake Mine|
Chevron USA Inc. has agreed to investigate radium-laced soil at its former uranium mine in New Mexico. The mine was on the Navajo Nation land near Gallup and the agreement between Chevron and the Environmental Protection Agency was welcomed by the NavajoNation as a sign there would be movement toward cleaning up the legacy of uranium mining.
According to the EPA, Chevron is going to do a radiological survey and also take soil samples across the 31-acre site. Chevron will also do sampling at 10 residences and two water wells. The company also will pay the costs for the EPA to oversee the work. One of the first steps will entail building a fence where people live,work and play. The contaminated soil inside the fence will be sealed and signs and locked gates will prevent entry.
The mining site, called the Mariano Lake Mine, produced uranium ore from 1977 to 1982. There is a 500-foot shaft, waste piles and surface ponds on the site. Chevron is not the only responsible party that will work on the mess. Four million tons of uranium ore were mined on the Navajo Nation from 1944 to 1986 generating gross sales for the mining companies of well over $200 billion (using an average historical price of $27 per pound). Investments in mining uranium in New Mexico from 1966 going forward were pegged at $6 billion by this source.