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News Releases from Region 06

EPA Regional Administrator Tours Mining Areas with New Mexico Officials

Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant (r6press@epa.gov)
Joe Hubbard

DALLAS - (July 24, 2015) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Ron Curry toured areas of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation where progress in cleaning up legacy contamination from uranium mines is being made. He was joined by Secretary Ryan Flynn of the New Mexico Environment Department and David Martin from the Energy, Mineral, and Natural Resources Department, and representatives from New Mexico congressional offices to discuss coordination of remediation activities using the Tronox settlement monies. About 69 percent of U.S. uranium ore comes from New Mexico.

The two-day tour of uranium mines began with Regional Administer Curry meeting with community representatives from Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) and Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance (BVDA) to talk about remediation work at the Homestake and other mining sites near Grants.

After a briefing at EPA's field operations and outreach center for the Grants Mining District Superfund site, the group toured a mining area west of Mount Taylor in the San Mateo Basin. The tour featured the Poison Canyon area of federal and private mines, as well as the village of San Mateo. They also viewed the Ambrosia Lake area, where EPA and its partners recently completed removal of nearly 7,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil from eight residences.

Regional Administrator Curry meet with the Pueblo of Laguna Governor Virgil A. Siow and visited the Jackpile-Paguate Mine Superfund site, including the village of Paguate, where contaminated soil has been removed from several residences.

This area is contained in the Grants Mining Belt, which produced much of the world's uranium from the 1950s to the late 1990s. The belt extends along the southern margin of the San Juan Basin in Cibola, McKinley, Sandoval, and Bernalillo Counties and on tribal lands in New Mexico. During this period, the Crossroads area was surrounded by many working uranium mines and two large uranium mills. As trucks transported uranium ore from the mines to the mills, contaminated debris routinely spilled onto roads, where it was left to further contaminate nearby properties. EPA will continue working with state, local, tribal, and federal partners to assess and address health risks and environmental effects of the abandoned mines.

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