Navajo Nation rescinds uranium project in New Mexico

July 23, 2014

Permission for Uranium Resources Inc. to operate a demonstration uranium recovery project on Navajo tribal land was rescinded by the Navajo Nation Council, the Daily Times reported.

In December, the Navajo Nation Resources and Development Committee passed a resolution that acknowledged Uranium Resources Inc.'s right-of-way and surface and mineral access rights to its site in Church Rock, located east of Gallup, NM.

Although the land is licensed to Uranium Resources Inc. by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the company still needed the tribe's approval to cross 30 ft of tribal land to enter the property, which would have been used for an in situ uranium recovery project.

The resolution also authorized the Resources and Development Committee to create a two-member subcommittee, whose membership consists of Delegates Leonard Tsosie and Leonard Pete.

However, on July 22, members of the council voted 18-3 to rescind, repeal and render null and void the December resolution.

Delegates Edmund Yazzie and Danny Simpson, who sponsored the rescinding bill, both said the December resolution should have sought the council's approval, and it violated two tribal laws that address uranium mining.

In 2005, the council enacted the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act, which bans uranium mining and processing on any sites on tribal lands. Then the council passed the Radioactive Materials Transportation Act of 2012, which regulates transportation of uranium on the reservation.


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