The Associated Press – ALBUQUERQUE — The federal government has reached another settlement with the Navajo Nation that will clear the way for cleanup work to continue at abandoned uranium mines across the largest American Indian reservation in the U.S.
The target includes 46 sites that have been identified as priorities due to radiation levels, their proximity to people and the threat of contamination spreading.
Cleanup is supposed to be done at 16 abandoned mines while evaluations are planned for another 30 sites. Studies will be done at two more to see if water supplies have been compromised. The agreement announced by the U.S. Justice Department settles the tribe’s claims over the costs of engineering evaluations and cleanups at the mines.
The federal government has already spent $100 million to address abandoned mines on Navajo lands, and a separate settlement reached with the DOJ last year was worth more than $13 million.
However, estimates for the future costs for cleanup at priority sites stretch into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could not immediately pinpoint the worth of the latest settlement.
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