4/23/2013 10:13:00 AM President Shelly outlines uranium cleanup goals at annual conference
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly discusses uranium cleanup on the Navajo Nation during the fifth annual Uranium Contamination Stakeholder Conference April 17-18. Submitted photo
GALLUP, N.M. - Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly kicked off the fifth annual Uranium Contamination Stakeholder Conference last week with an opening statement that featured future steps needed to continue uranium clean up in Church Rock and other affected areas.
"One of the critical lessons we learned early on was to listen to the people who live in the impacted areas," Shelly said during his speech.
Citizens in attendance expressed their concerns regarding uranium cleanup on the Reservation to leaders of various government agencies tasked with uranium clean up and reclamation.
Shelly discussed a five-year plan that outlines timelines to clean up uranium from abandoned mines and contamination sites.
"Since 2007, over seven different federal agencies have joined this inter-agency collaboration and they have completed many activities in the five-year-plan," Shelly said.
He added the future of mine clean up should include more Navajos employed and trained to perform remediation tasks.
He said agencies need to continue identifying and cleaning structures, water wells, abandoned mines, and continue clean up of North East Church Rock mine site and Tuba City Dump.
Shelly applauded the clean up of uranium tailings along U.S. Highway 160 near Tuba City.
"We are grateful that Department of Energy allowed Navajo Environmental Protection Agency (EP) to take the lead on the cleanup process, which came in on time and under budget. This is a good model for all to recognize - as long as sufficient resources are provided," Shelly said.
He added that financial resources need to be dedicated to the remaining objectives.
U.S. EPA Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld attended and agreed with Shelly that financial resources need to be allotted for the objectives to be completed.
"All of these objectives are important to me as Navajo Nation president," Shelly said.