Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly applauded an agreement that affirmed Navajo jurisdiction and allows that the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency to direct the clean up an abandoned uranium mine.
“This is a historic time for our Navajo Nation because for the first time, a company has consented to the full jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation within Navajo Indian Country regarding the clean up of an uranium mine. Also, our Navajo EPA will oversee the clean up. Our Navajo Nation is progressing and growing stronger,” President Shelly said.
The Navajo Nation and Hydro Resources Inc. (HRI) agreed to settle a Notice of Violation for April trespassing charge. The agreement states that the company will consent to the jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation on all matters occurring in Navajo Indian Country.
The agreement was signed on July 21.
In addition, HRI will be allowed access to Section 8, but not for mining purposes, according to the agreement.
HRI was at odds with the Navajo Nation because HRI intended to mine uranium in an area of surrounded by the Navajo Nation and Navajo Indian Country. In April 2012, the Navajo Nation served HRI with a Notice of Violation to comply with the Navajo Nation Civil Trespass Act stemming from an October 2011 violation.
The Navajo Nation banned uranium mining in in 2005, and in March, President Shelly signed into law the Uranium Ore Transportation Protection Act, which banned the transportation of Uranium on the Navajo Nation.
The agreement outlines that HRI agreed to dismiss their appeal of the violation and pay the Navajo Nation a $50 fine for the trespassing violation.
President Shelly added that the agreement doesn’t open the door for uranium mining.
“We have banned uranium mining. We are in the process of having all the abandoned uranium mines cleaned up. We must clean up those mines because we have families, women and children who live close to some of those mines,” President Shelly said.
The agreement marks the first time a uranium mine will be cleaned according to the standards set forth by the Navajo Nation Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 2008.
“We are making history with our policies, which means we are growing stronger and more sovereign as a tribal nation,” President Shelly said.