The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered El Paso Natural Gas and Western Nuclear, Inc. to begin work to begin investigating potential risks at abandoned uranium mine sites in Cameron and Smith Lake Chapters in the Navajo Nation.
El Paso Natural Gas will work in the Cameron Chapter to assess 24 mine sites for radiation contamination. While the assessment work will begin in spring 2014, fencing and signs will be placed around some sites this fall.
The EPA and Navajo EPA will supervise the work.
"This work, estimated to cost $2.5 million, is another element in our partnership to deal with the toxic legacy of abandoned uranium mines," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's administrator in the Pacific Southwest Region. "We are using all the tools available to us, including having the responsible parties pay to clean up these sites."
Western Nuclear, Inc. will begin work in mid-September at the Ruby Mines in Smith Lake Chapter to close two mine entry points, or adits, and close two vent holes. The company will also determine the work necessary to remove radiation contaminated soils from the mine areas and washes, arroyos and roads near the mine.
The work at these mine sites in Cameron and Smith Lake is part of a broader program to screen, assess, and clean up abandoned uranium mine sites throughout Navajo Nation.