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EPA Awards Arrow Indian Contractors $3.85 Million for Abandoned Uranium Mine Cleanup

Funds will also pay for bridge rebuilding, road construction

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Margot Perez-Sullivan (

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Arrow Indian Contractors, a Navajo-owned company, a $3.85 million contract to clean up portions of the Quivira Mines.  The site is located in the Coyote Canyon and Standing Rock Chapters on Navajo Nation in McKinley County, New Mexico.

The work includes excavating contaminated soil and rebuilding the Red Water Pond Road bridge to accommodate heavy equipment. Arrow Indian Contractors will also build and repair roads and culverts as needed. The work is scheduled to begin in early July and will last about three months. Tempe-based Arrow Indian Contractors, a Navajo-owned business, expects to employ 10 Navajo tribal members for this summer’s work.

“Employing Navajo members is an important part of EPA’s efforts to clean up the legacy of uranium mining contamination in and around the Navajo Nation,” said Scott Pruitt, Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “By hiring Navajo-owned companies to perform the work, the EPA can help communities achieve economic progress and  prosperity.”

Funding for the contract comes from a $1 billion settlement reached in 2015 for the cleanup of 50 abandoned uranium mines for which Kerr McGee Corporation and its successor, Tronox, have responsibility. Cleanup of the Quivira Mine Site, which consists of two mines, is covered by the settlement. The site, which operated from 1974 to 1985, generated about 1.2 million pounds of uranium ore, making it one of the most productive on the Navajo Nation.  

During the Cold War, 30 million tons of uranium ore were mined on or adjacent to the Navajo Nation, leaving more than 500 abandoned mines. Since 2008, EPA has conducted preliminary investigations at all of the mines, remediated 49 contaminated structures, provided safe drinking water to 3,013 families in partnership with the Indian Health Service, and performed cleanup or stabilization work at nine mines. In total, EPA has reached settlements valued at $1.7 billion to clean up more than 40 of the highest priority mines. Cleanup of the abandoned uranium mines is a closely coordinated effort between federal agencies and the Navajo Nation.

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