Navajo-Owned Company Receives Abandoned Uranium Mine Contract

Aug 6, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a Navajo-owned company a contract to control erosion at an abandoned uranium mine on the reservation. It’s part of a larger cleanup effort of hundreds of sites on the tribe’s land. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Ned Black with the EPA leads Diné College students in an investigation of Cove Wash in July 2017 during the assessment phase of abandoned uranium mine cleanup work.
Credit EPA

Clawson Excavating received the nearly $650,000 contract to begin work at a mine site near Cove, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. That’s in addition to more than $900,000 it received last year from the EPA as part of a billion-dollar federal clean-up settlement. Work will begin this summer and is expected to take about two months.

There are 32 abandoned uranium mines near Cove in far northeastern Arizona, one of the areas with the highest concentrations of such sites on the Navajo Nation. Separately, the tribe is studying whether uranium, arsenic, lead and radionuclides from the mines are polluting the air in local communities.

In all, there are more than 500 abandoned uranium mines on or near the Navajo Nation. The EPA has worked for more than a decade to investigate the sites, but to date only a handful have been cleaned up.