The lands of the Navajo Nation span about 27,000 square miles over three states in the Four Corners area of the southwestern United States. Their unique geology makes them rich in uranium, which was in high demand after the development of atomic weapons at the close of World War II. From 1944 to 1986, nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted throughout Navajo lands under various leases with the Navajo Nation. Demand for uranium significantly diminished in the 1970s, leading to the abandonment of approximately 500 uranium mines within the Navajo Nation.
Dr. Neil M. Ram, Catherine Moore, and Lawrence McTiernan of Roux Associates, recently published an article in the Journal of Remediation about these abandoned uranium mines (AUMs). This article summarizes the current status of known contamination arising from AUMs within the Navajo Nation and examines the options for addressing the elevated risks to health that AUM waste poses to the people of the Navajo Nation. More specifically, this article provides the following:
- An overview of past uranium mining conducted on the Navajo Nation, the current status of AUM waste within the Navajo Nation, and the human health risks associated with uranium exposure.
- A discussion of Navajo Fundamental Law, the Diné (the Navajo People) Uranium Remediation Advisory Commission, and the Navajo Nation Department of Justice’s position regarding institutional controls and cleanup of AUMs.
- A summary of cleanup actions taken to date to address AUM waste and the lessons learned from such actions.
- Options for cleanup of AUM waste consistent with Diné Fundamental Law, the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA).
Roux Associates has a limited amount of complimentary copies. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of “Cleanup Options for Navajo Abandoned Uranium Mines,” please click the button below. The article may also be purchased in full in the Summer 2016 edition of Remediation Journal.