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EPA, BNSF reach agreement on uranium mine site cleanup


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Monday an agreement with BNSF Railway Co. to begin cleanup at the Haystack Mines Site, a group of three abandoned uranium mines near Prewitt, N.M., and the Baca/Prewitt chapter on Navajo Nation.

Work at the site is slated to begin in July and last four months, according to an EPA press release.

The mines operated from 1952 to 1981, and produced 400,000 tons of uranium ore. Today, the 174-acre site is used for livestock grazing, one residence and a few nearby homes.

Under the agreement, BNSF will:
• take biological and cultural assessments of the property to ensure cultural resources and sensitive species are not impacted;
• fence the property and post warning signs;
• provide temporary alternative housing to affected residents, if necessary;
• construct access roads; and
• excavate contaminated soil.

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. The EPA has entered into settlement agreements valued at $1.7 billion to reduce the highest risks to the Navajo people, agency officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/24/2017