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News Releases from Region 09

Babbitt Ranches and C.O. Bar agree to investigate abandoned uranium mines in Coconino County

Contact Information: 
Margot Perez-Sullivan (perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov)

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a settlement with Babbitt Ranches, LLC and C.O. Bar, Inc. in which the companies committed to conducting a site evaluation of abandoned uranium mines adjacent to the Little Colorado River.

“Babbitt Ranches stepped up to conduct this investigation, consistent with their longstanding stewardship values,” said Enrique Manzanilla, Superfund Director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office. “Today, the mines are closed, but the legacy of uranium contamination remains.”

The site evaluation will include an assessment of the abandoned uranium mines and surveys of cultural and biological resources. Once the evaluation is complete, EPA will consult with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the neighboring Navajo Nation to determine any additional actions that may be required.

Under the settlement agreement, the companies also agreed to pay the agency $230,000 in past costs incurred and future oversight costs. This agreement is made under authority of the Superfund law, which holds landowners responsible for hazardous materials on their properties and requires them to provide cleanups of historic contamination.

This settlement is part of a larger strategy to address abandoned uranium mines on and near the Navajo Nation. From 1944 to 1986, nearly 30 million tons of uranium ore were mined on or adjacent to the Navajo Nation, resulting in more than 500 abandoned uranium mines. Since 2008, EPA and five other federal agencies invested more than $130 million to reduce the highest risks to Navajo people by conducting initial investigations at all the mines, remediating 48 contaminated structures, providing safe drinking water to 3,013 families, cleaning up groundwater at mill sites, and performing cleanup or stabilization work at 9 mines.

For more information, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/navajo-nation-uranium-cleanup

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