4/30/2013 10:29:00 AM Navajo Nation President Shelly meets with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to stress priority for clean up at Churchrock
WASHINGTON - Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly urged the U.S. government to make uranium waste cleanup in Churchrock, NM a priority.
Shelly met with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison MacFarlane April 23. General Electric (GE) acquired the property previously held by the now former United Nuclear Corporation. GE received a Record of Decision formally approving the disposal of mine waste and soil from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6.
Shelly said GE is ready to begin clean up operations.
"The more we delay, the more contamination will occur and the more the cost will increase," Shelly said. "As Americans we need to do the work now at a lower cost while creating jobs at the same time."
Officials from GE accompanied the president to three afternoon meetings at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission headquarters and avowed their support for the Navajo Nation. GE has worked with several federal agencies over the past year in acquiring approval for this clean up operation at Churchrock.
The company will spend $65 million to clean the area up once a permit is obtained from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
While in Washington, Shelly also discussed agreements between the Navajo Nation and the National Park service regarding Navajo Nation owned and operated Antelope Point Marina on Lake Powell in Page, Ariz.
Shelly met with Rachel Jacobson, principal deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the National Park Service.
Commercial Use Agreements allow private companies to be vendors in park service areas.
The president sent a letter to the National Park Service outlining a broken agreement that includes non-compliance with Navajo preference laws, lack of tribal consultation, and questions of fees and revenues owed to the Navajo Nation.
"I need cooperation from the National Park Service," Shelly said.
In the meeting, Jacobson assured the president she will postpone the May 1 start date of the Commercial Use Authorizations and make appropriate corrections. The principal deputy assistant secretary assured the president the Park Service will make appropriate notifications, review agreements, and pursue consultation with the Navajo government.