Plan targets highly contaminated mine on Navajo

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A plan has been approved to clean up the most badly contaminated former uranium mine site on the Navajo Nation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the plan Thursday to remove 1.4 million tons of contaminated soil from the Northeast Church Rock Mine near Gallup, N.M., at a cost of $44

The site includes two underground uranium shafts, waste piles, surface ponds and buried waste.

The mine operated from 1967 to 1982 and has long topped the priority list for cleanup on the vast reservation.

EPA officials say the radium-contaminated soil will be placed in a lined repository and capped. The work will take several years, beginning next summer.

Exposure to elevated levels of radium over a long period of time can result in anemia, cataracts and cancer.

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