Monthly Archives: October 2011

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9/29/2011 EPA announces plan to clean up largest abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation

9/29/2011 EPA announces plan to clean up largest abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation: SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it has approved a plan and committed to clean up the Northeast Church Rock Mine, the largest and highest priority uranium mine on the Navajo Nation. The cleanup will include removal of approximately 1.4 million tons of radium and uranium contaminated soil and will employ the most stringent standards in the country. The cleanup will place the contaminated soil in a lined, capped facility. The multi-year cleanup will be conducted in several phases.

“This is an important milestone in the effort to address the toxic legacy of historic uranium mining on the Navajo Nation,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Region. “This plan is the result of several years of collaboration between EPA, the Navajo Nation, and the Red Water Pond Road community living near the mine.”

“On behalf of the Navajo Nation, I appreciate the efforts of the USEPA and Navajo EPA, and the cooperation from the state of New Mexico to clean up contaminated Navajo trust lands,” said Ben Shelly, President of the Navajo Nation. “A perfect remedy is difficult to design, and in this case every stakeholder can be proud of their input into the remedy. I look forward to the cleanup and putting people to work restoring our lands.”

The disposal cell will be designed with participation from the Navajo Nation, State of New Mexico, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Department of Energy. EPA will fund an independent technical advisor to aid the community in their understanding of the project as it develops and facilitate local input into the design process. The cleanup will allow unrestricted surface use of the mine site for grazing and housing.

“Consolidating the waste into one repository will return the land to the Navajo Nation for their traditional use,” said David Martin, New Mexico Environment Secretary. “The cleanup will also ensure long term stewardship to protect public health and the environment.”

Northeast Church Rock mine operated as a uranium ore mine from approximately 1967 to 1982, and included an 1800-foot deep shaft, waste piles, and several surface ponds. Under EPA oversight and in conjunction with the Navajo Nation EPA, General Electric conducted two previous cleanups at the site to deal with residual contamination, including the removal and rebuilding of one building in 2007, and removal of over 40,000 tons of contaminated soil in 2010.

Exposure to elevated levels of radium over a long period of time can result in anemia, cataracts, and cancer, especially bone cancer.

EPA’s work with Navajo Nation to identify and enforce against responsible parties is part of a 5-year plan to address the problem, which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region9/superfund/navajo-nation/

Contact: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (415) 328-1676, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

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9/30/2011 US EPA: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: EPA Launches New Mapping Tool to Improve Public Access to Enforcement Information

9/30/2011 US EPA: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: EPA Launches New Mapping Tool to Improve Public Access to Enforcement Information: Mapping feature supports the White House Regulatory Compliance Transparency Initiative and improves public access to information. WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the release of a new mapping feature in EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database.

As part of EPA’s ongoing effort to improve transparency, the EPA and State Enforcement Actions Map will allow the public to access federal and state enforcement information in an interactive format and to compare enforcement action information by state. The map will be refreshed monthly to include up to date information about the enforcement actions taken to address violations of air, water, and waste laws.

“EPA is committed to providing the public with easy to use tools that display facility compliance information and the actions EPA and the states are taking to address pollution problems in communities across the nation,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is proud to announce our latest effort under the President’s White House Regulatory Compliance Transparency Initiative and we will continue to take steps to make meaningful enforcement and compliance data available as part of an open, transparent government.”

Map users can choose the year, the media (air, water, waste, multiple), and whether they would like to display enforcement information for actions taken at the federal level, state level, or both. Users can then click on a state to view facility locations and click on a facility to list its name, the environmental statute the facility has an enforcement action under, and a link to a detailed facility compliance report.

ECHO provides integrated searches of EPA and state data about inspections, violations and enforcement actions for more than 800,000 regulated facilities. Now in its ninth year, ECHO recently received its 10 millionth data query and has completed a record year of more than 2 million queries. President Obama recognized ECHO in his January 2011 Presidential Memorandum on regulatory compliance, as a model for transparency for other federal agencies to follow.

Enforcement and Compliance History Online

Presidential Memorandum – Regulatory Compliance

View all news releases related to compliance and enforcement

CONTACT:
Stacy Kika (News Media Only)
kika.stacy@epa.gov
202-564-0906
202-564-4355

10/1/2011 Washington Examiner by The AP: Feds, companies reach deal on Wash. uranium mine

10/1/2011 Washington Examiner by The Associated Press: Feds, companies reach deal on Wash. uranium mine: The federal government has reached an agreement with two mining companies to clean up a uranium mine on the Spokane Indian Reservation. According to the Justice Department, costs of cleaning up the Midnite Mine Superfund Site will be $193 million. The 350-acre site was designated a potential hazard to people’s health in 2006 due to the presence of heavy metals and elevated levels of radioactivity.

The mining companies — Newmont USA Limited, and Dawn Mining Company, LLC — will cover most of the cleanup expenses and will reimburse the Environmental Protection Agency an additional $25 million. The U.S. Department of the Interior will contribute $54 million toward past and future cleanup activities.

The Midnite Mine operated from 1954 to 1964, and again from 1969 to 1981, resulting in numerous waste rock piles and two open mine pits.

Officials expect the project to take about a decade to complete.
Read more at the Washington Examiner