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EPA orders risk assessment at abandoned uranium mines in Cameron

Posted: Thursday, Sep 12th, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered two energy companies to investigate potential risks at abandoned uranium mine sites in the Cameron and Smith Lake chapters on the Navajo Nation, according to a statement released by the EPA.

The work will be conducted under separate orders, with oversight by EPA and Navajo EPA.

“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.”

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 said.

Western Nuclear 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 conduct an assessment to determine the work necessary to remove radiation contaminated soils from the mine areas and washes, arroyos, and roads near the mine, the EPA said.

The work being done at these mine sites in Cameron and Smith Lake are part of a broader program to screen, assess, and clean up abandoned uranium mine sites throughout the Navajo Nation, according to the EPA. For further information on the previous Five Year Plan and its accomplishments go to www.epa.gov/region9/superfund/navajo-nation/.

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