Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and several other House Democrats today asked multiple government agencies to prepare a report and a new plan to continue the cleanup of uranium on Navajo Nation lands leftover from the development of the atom bomb and the Cold War's nuclear arms race. The current plan, developed by multiple agencies, is set to expire, and Rep. Markey and his colleagues say they believe a new plan is needed to continue the cleanup on the tribe's land to protect public health and the environment.
Rep. Markey was joined by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) in the letters sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and the Indian Health Service.
"Although the last operating mines on the Navajo Nation closed in the mid-1980's, mining activities on the Reservation left behind hundreds of abandoned uranium mines, inactive milling sites, former dump sites, contaminated groundwater, and structures that contain elevated levels of radiation. These sites pose environmental and public health risks to the Navajo community," write Rep. Markey and his colleagues to the agencies. "We believe that a second Five-Year Plan will be necessary to continue this enormous task."
Rep. Markey and his colleagues also requested an audit of the cleanup progress from the Government Accountability Office.