"Navajo Uranium Mines’ Unknown Cancer Link Risks Slowing Cleanup"

"Uncertainty about the health effects of abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation risks drawing out for decades the clean up of radioactive waste piles the EPA designated as Superfund sites in March.

The EPA added waste piles from derelict uranium mines near the Navajo community of Cove, Ariz., and the nearby Lukachukai Mountains to the National Priorities List on March 5, paving the way for the federal government to help clean up sites left behind by companies that mined uranium there from the late 1940s to 1986.

More than 30 million tons of uranium ore were mined during the Cold War from more than 500 places on the sprawling Navajo Nation that spans three states—one of the country’s primary sources of uranium used for nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants until the 1980s.

Cancer cases among Navajo miners were rampant at the time. Most of the mines have never been cleaned up, leaving a long-lasting legacy of radioactive waste considered one of the region’s most significant environmental justice challenges. "

Bobby Magill reports for Bloomberg Environment April 1, 2024.

Source: Bloomberg Environment, 04/02/2024