Wednesday, May 27, 2020

$600 million settlement reached in uranium mine cleanup on Navajo Nation lands

A $600 million settlement has been reached between the United States and the Navajo Nation with two affiliated subsidiaries of Freeport-McMoRan Inc. to clean up 94 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation land.

“This remarkable settlement will result in significant environmental restoration on Navajo lands and will help build a healthier future for the Navajo people,” John Cruden, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a news release. “We appreciate the extraordinary commitment by Freeport’s affiliated subsidiaries to clean up 94 mines and to achieve this settlement without litigation. The Justice Department is always ready to work cooperatively with the Navajo Nation and responsible private parties to address the legacy of uranium mining on Navajo lands.”

As per the agreement, the work will be conducted by Cyprus Amax Minerals Company and Western Nuclear, Inc. The U.S. will contribute approximately 50 percent of the costs. The work to be conducted is subject to oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in collaboration with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, EPA said in a news release.

“This historic settlement will clean up almost 20 percent of the abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation,” Alexis Strauss, acting regional administrator for the EPA Pacific Southwest said in the release. “Cleaning up the uranium contamination continues to be a top environmental priority for our regional office.”

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Environmental Protection Agency Region 9

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