Step in the Right Direction for AZ-01 Uranium Clean Up, Says O’Halleran

September 3, 2020
Press Release

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK—Today, following reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had announced a plan to open an “Office of Mountains, Deserts and Plains” in Colorado that will focus on tracking and cleaning up abandoned mines in Western states, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) issued the following statement:

“Since I came to Congress in 2017, I have been working to draw attention to the public health crisis that is abandoned uranium mines on rural and tribal lands throughout Arizona’s First District and the entire Southwest region. This has been a decades-long problem that has led to increased cancer diagnoses among Navajo families, contaminated water, and damage of sacred tribal lands. Though the EPA is not establishing their new location on the Navajo Nation as I had previously requested, the agency is taking a step in the right direction by opening an office dedicated to addressing this pressing issue. I will continue to provide close oversight of operations to ensure that uranium mine cleanup and remediation is a top priority at the EPA.”

BACKGROUND:

Last May, O’Halleran sent a letter to the EPA’s Region IX Administrator requesting updates about the status of uranium mine cleanup across the Navajo Nation, and requested the agency establish an office on or near the Navajo Nation to decrease staff travel time and improve efficiency.

O’Halleran has introduced legislation to expand compensation for individuals exposed to radiation while working in and living near uranium mines or downwind from nuclear weapon test sites, and a resolution urging the Environmental Protection Agency to do more to clean up and remediate toxic, abandoned sites on the Navajo Nation.

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