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O’Halleran, Nez Tour Abandoned Uranium Site

O’Halleran, Nez Tour Abandoned Uranium Site
September 17
15:10 2021

O’Halleran Joins EPA Administrator, Navajo Nation President to tour Abandoned Uranium Mine Site, Advocate for Action

Cong. Tom O’Halleran

CAMERON – On Thursday (September 16), Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) joined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez to visit an abandoned uranium mine site in the Navajo Nation and discuss the environmental impacts of such sites with Navajo leadership.

“Dating back to the 1940s, the U.S. government conducted unsafe and mostly unregulated uranium mining operations on Navajo land,” said O’Halleran. “Now, On the Navajo Nation alone, there are over 500 abandoned World War II and Cold War Era uranium mine sites that have borne a toxic legacy across the Navajo Nation, where uranium contamination can be found in animals, homes, and water. I’ve met too many families that have lost many, if not most, of their family members to uranium-caused illnesses and disease, decades after these mines have been considered fully ‘abandoned’.”

O’Halleran has been beating the drum on the need for attention to this issue since coming to Congress in 2017. Penning op-eds about the importance of preserving the Grand Canyon from expanded uranium mining, calling on the Trump EPA to act, holding the agency accountable, securing funding for cleanup, and more.

“I was humbled to bring Administrator Regan to visit uranium mine site A&B No.3 to speak with President Nez and Navajo leadership about the urgent need for federal funding and attention to these long overlooked toxic problems,” continued O’Halleran. “President Nez has been a tireless advocate for the Navajo Nation and Administrator Regan’s visit today shows this administration’s dedication to the needs of the Navajo People and to cleaning up this dirty legacy.”

In 2007, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee tasked EPA and five other federal agencies to develop a five-year plan in consultation with the Navajo Nation EPA. In 2014, a second five-year plan was established with the goal of addressing the most significant risks. In 2020, a ten-year plan was established, and the Navajo abandoned uranium mine sites (AUMS) were added to the Administrator’s Emphasis superfund sites.

“It was an honor to be hosted by President Nez at Navajo Nation today with Congressman O’Halleran,” said Administrator Regan. “I came to reaffirm President Biden’s commitment to strengthen our Nation-to-Nation relationship. After seeing an abandoned uranium mine firsthand, I’m more motivated than ever to protect the Navajo people from legacy pollution. Alongside Congressman O’Halleran’s leadership, I’m confident that together we can make a positive difference in Navajo Nation.”

“The Navajo people have endured decades of radiation exposure and contamination caused by uranium mining and production, and continues to impact the health of individuals, families, and communities,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “Our administration has met with the U.S. EPA on numerous occasions to ensure progress with uranium mine clean-up efforts. We have over 500 abandoned uranium mine sites, and the U.S. EPA is making progress in addressing these sites, but we have not seen any clean-up activity for over two years. Under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, we are confident that we work well to make more progress and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our Navajo people.”

O’Halleran, Nez Tour Abandoned Uranium Site - overview

Summary: O’Halleran Joins EPA Administrator, Navajo Nation President to tour Abandoned Uranium Mine Site, Advocate for Action

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