Leaders on the Navajo Nation report progress in the effort to clean up hundreds of abandoned uranium mines on and near the reservation.
As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, federal officials recently traveled to the area for a firsthand view of the decades-long issue.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan met with tribal officials in Cameron, AZ on the Navajo Nation.
During the trip, he announced the creation of two federal field offices in the tribal capital Window Rock and in Flagstaff, AZ that’ll work with the Navajo EPA to facilitate the mine cleanup and removal of radioactive waste.
U.S. EPA officials also say they’re working to conduct assessments and prioritize the more than 300 abandoned uranium mines that haven’t yet received funding for remediation.
According to Navajo President Jonathan Nez’s office, Regan also visited an abandoned uranium mine site located within feet of occupied homes.
The effort to clean up the more than 500 abandoned uranium mines on and near the Navajo Nation has been ongoing for years and only a handful have been fully remediated. The tribe says about 200 sites currently have funds available for work, but progress has been slow.
Tribal leaders describe the legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation as devastating, causing decades of negative environmental and health impacts among residents and former mine workers.
Between 1944 and 1986, 30 million tons of uranium ore was extracted from the area to support the Manhattan Project and Cold War-era nuclear weapons development.
A new partnership between Black Hills State and the Indian University of North America expands a student support program. This summer, it gave 25 undergrads a chance to jump-start their college careers.
South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s C.J. Keene has more.
The Seventh Gen summer program prepares Native students for success in college.
Joshua Rudnik is director of the Indian University at Crazy Horse Memorial. He says the program helps teenagers take the next step.
“Seventh Gen summer program here at Crazy Horse is for high school students who have just graduated and looking to move into higher education. During the summer they participate in their first semester of college. They earn 12 credits – those are general education credits.”
Along with classes, students live on a small campus and work a credit-eligible internship at the memorial.
Rudnik says the experience goes beyond the classroom.
“So it’s a busy summer, not only with the classes but the 20 hours they work. In addition to the classes and the internship, we have a co-curricular program that seeks to explore culturally significant sites here in the Black Hills.”
Rudnik says the new partnership will provide some Black Hills State professors for classes and help students connect.
“Well, if you’re looking into getting into college, our program is a good start. Not only do we provide your first semester of college with those twelve credits, but we also have a pretty strong student advising and student success team that will guide you through the process of entering college.”
Applications are closed for the summer 2023 program.
Rudnik expects them to reopen in the coming months.
Tribal leaders were among those to join President Joe Biden for a celebration of the Inflation Reduction Act on the White House lawn this week.
The president signed the bill last month.
The new law authorizes funding, including tribal-specific funding, to address climate issues and energy.
It also seeks to lower health care costs and tax high-income people and large corporations.
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