A settlement announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice has secured approximately $1 billion in funds to cleanup 10 percent of abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.
The funds, which will go to both the EPA and the Navajo Nation, will be used to clean up contamination, which includes radioactive waste near communities, resulting from approximately 50 uranium mines that were operated by Kerr McGee during the Cold War.
Jared Blumenfeld EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said:
"The painful legacy of abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation is one big step closer to being remedied through today's historic $1 billion settlement." "Working together with our partners at Navajo EPA, we will be able to clean up 50 uranium mines throughout the reservation."
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, said: "This is the result of Navajo Nation initiative. While we continue to request clean up funds from the federal government agencies and wait for the U.S. Congress to appropriate clean up funds for legacy uranium mines, we have not stood by idle."
"The federal government understands its trust responsibility to clean up the legacy of uranium mining. While this settlement will ease some of the burden of the costs, this settlement is no way enough to address all of our concerns and our desires to restore our natural resources and improve our public health conditions that are impacted by uranium mining and processing."
The settlement requires Anadarko and Kerr McGee to pay a total of $5.15 billion to resolve fraudulent conveyance claims based on allegations that the defendants sought to evade their liability for environmental contamination at toxic sites around the country. Of this total, approximately $4.4 billion will be used for environmental cleanup. This is the largest amount of money ever awarded in a bankruptcy-related settlement for environmental cleanup.