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Federal Settlement to Fund Assessment at Eight Abandoned Uranium Mines on Navajo Nation

Joshua Lott/The New York Times

Assessment of eight abandoned uranium mines will soon begin on the Navajo Nation. It follows a $500,000 federal settlement with the company responsible for the contamination. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports. 

Under the dealmade with EnPro Holdings, radiation tests will be conducted along with surveys of biological and cultural resources at the sites in Cameron and Tuba City. Crews will also install fencing and signs that warn of possible radiation exposure.

Two of the mines are on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s high-priority list, which includes 46 with high radiation levels, potential for water contamination, or in close proximity to homes.

The assessments are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Navajo and EPA officials have worked for a decade to evaluate more than 500 abandoned uranium mines on or near the reservation. To date, about 50 structures have been remediated and nine mines have been cleaned up or stabilized. 

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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