Historic settlement for uranium mining contamination in the Navajo Nation

Navajo uranium miners

The federal government announced…the largest environmental settlement in United States history is final. Anadarko Petroleum and its subsidiaries will now shell out $5.15 billion for abandoning uranium mines on the Navajo Nation and other contamination they left around the country.

Over the years Anadarko has acquired several companies including Kerr-McGee, which mined more than seven million tons of uranium ore on the Navajo Nation during the Cold War.

Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Jared Blumenfeld said the companies tried to pass along billions of dollars in cleanup obligations to a subsidiary called Tronox and then attempted to bankrupt that company. Blumenfeld said people have fought a long time to get “the polluter to pay…”

More than a billion dollars will pay to clean up about 50 abandoned uranium mines on and around the Navajo Nation.

“It will mean we can immediately begin work on these sites,” Blumenfeld said. “It also means a real boost for their economy. We want to make sure these jobs stay on the Navajo Nation.”

Another $1.1 billion will go to clean up chemical manufacturing contamination near Lake Mead. Each day as much as a hundred pounds of perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, is still leaking into the reservoir that millions of people rely on for drinking water.

I hope some of the settlement is set aside for long-term care for Navajo uranium miners. Many basic safety regulations outside of Native American mines somehow never made to any Tribal lands.

Some of the resulting ailments – like Navajo Neuropathy – affected the succeeding generation. Leaving them without direct linkage to crap working conditions. You didn’t have to work the uranium mines to be affected.

5 thoughts on “Historic settlement for uranium mining contamination in the Navajo Nation

  1. Sacrifice Zone™ says:

    August 9, 2017: “Many Navajo say the cleanup of more than 500 abandoned uranium mines on the reservation has been slow going. The federal government has just awarded a contract to clean up two of the mine sites.” http://www.fronterasdesk.org/content/10765/two-time-cleanup-navajo-uranium-mines-slow “The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the $3.85 million contract to Navajo-owned Arrow Indian Contractors. The company plans to dig up the contaminated soil and improve the roads in northwestern New Mexico near Crownpoint.
    The EPA said funding for the project comes from a $1 billion settlement reached in 2015 with Tronox, formerly Kerr McGee, for the cleanup of almost 50 abandoned uranium mines.
    From 1944 to 1986 mining companies extracted 30 million tons of uranium ore from Navajo land to make atomic weapons. Many Navajo have since died of kidney failure and cancer, conditions linked to uranium contamination, and the tribe has banned any mining activity.”
    See also The Church Rock uranium mill spill https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Rock_uranium_mill_spill

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