Navajo Nation President Shelly Pushes for Cleanup of Church Rock Mine

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly

WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA— Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly praised the April 23 announcement from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the license amendment for the United Nuclear Corporation (UNC).

The UNC is responsible for cleanup of the Church Rock, New Mexico facility in McKinley County.

“I appreciate the action taken by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the final environmental review,” President Shelly said. “The finding of no significant impact for amendments to the ground water standards at the UNC Superfund site is great news.”

He noted that long term cleanup of the site will be reviewed by Navajo EPA to ensure minimal impacts to the Nation’s groundwater.

“I reiterate my concerns and requests to both United Nuclear Corporation and GE to work with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the license amendment request,” President Shelly said.

The amendment is outlined in Vol. 80, No. 78 of the Federal Register.

The amendment addresses the technical issues to cleanup the northeast Church Rock mine site. Since 2006, the Navajo Nation and residents residing near the site expected swift resolution to the health hazards present.

Radioactive waste at the mine site continues to impact the land near the site.

“Since 2013, I have spoke with leaders from the federal government and Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do its part in the cleanup process,” President Shelly said.

Numerous agencies are working with UNC and GE, such as the U.S. EPA Regions 6 and 9, New Mexico Environment, Minerals and Mining Departments, and the Navajo Nation.

“Again, I request that the license agreement request is quickly submitted, so that the cleanup of the northeast Church Rock mine can begin,” President Shelly said. “There are hundreds of other sites across the Navajo Nation that must be addressed.

“We need swift action to cleanup these sites for the safety of the Navajo people,” he said.

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