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Clawson Excavating wins road improvement contract for mine cleanups

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Global Mining Review,

The US Environmental Protection Agency awarded Navajo-owned Clawson Excavating Inc., a US$918 911 contract to improve a local access road on the Navajo Nation, paving the way for critical abandoned uranium mine cleanups.

Clawson Excavating Inc. will construct improvements to a currently unmaintained access road in rural Cove, Ariz. Clawson Excavating, a small, Navajo woman-owned business, will have seven employees working on this contract performing all of the work.

“We’re very pleased to be working with a Navajo-owned company, helping employ tribal workers,” said Alexis Strauss, Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Clawson Excavating’s work is an important part of our broad-ranging efforts to address uranium mining contamination in and around the Navajo Nation.”

Nationwide, infrastructure struggles to meet the needs of the American public. Notably, one out of every five mile miles of highway pavement in the US is in poor condition. The road upgrades under this contract will improve the existing road conditions, making it safer and providing reliable access for the ongoing cleanup of approximately 32 abandoned uranium mine sites in the Cove area. The improvements include modifications to road slope and width, outside edge protection berms, surface stability and erosion control. The work is expected to begin once the contract’s notice to proceed is issued and will be completed within 60 calendar days.

Funding for the contract comes from the approximately US$1 billion settlement with Tronox Inc. (formerly Kerr-McGee Corporation) for the assessment and cleanup of over 50 abandoned uranium mines.

During the Cold War, 30 million t 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 52 contaminated structures, provided safe drinking water to 3013 families in partnership with the Indian Health Service, and performed cleanup or stabilisation work at nine mines. In total, EPA has reached enforcement agreements and settlements valued at US$1.7 billion to reduce the highest risks of radiation exposure to the Navajo people from abandoned uranium mines. As a result, funding is now available to assess and clean up 219 of the 523 abandoned uranium mines. Cleanup of the abandoned uranium mines is a closely co-ordinated effort between EPA, the Navajo Nation and other federal agencies.

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