FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The Environmental Protection Agency and the responsible mining companies are cleaning up three uranium mines on the Navajo Nation this month. This phase of the five-year plan is expected to cost more than $7 million.
For decades nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from Navajo lands under leases with the Navajo Nation. Today the mines are closed, but a legacy of uranium contamination remains, including more than 500 abandoned uranium mines.
This month crews will focus on the cleanup of contaminated soil in Cove, Ariz.; Casamero Lake and Church Rock, N.M.
The EPA has labeled the Northeast Church Rock Mine the highest priority. It was the largest underground uranium mine in the U.S. A bigger $44 million cleanup of this mine is expected to begin in 2016, if its approved by federal officials.