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WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials say the U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to provide $13.2 million for a cleanup evaluation of 16 abandoned uranium mines across the vast reservation.
Tribal officials say the investigation of the sites is a necessary step before final cleanup decisions can be made.
The Navajo Nation encompasses more than 27,000 square miles within Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
About four million tons of uranium ore was extracted during mining operations within the Navajo Nation from 1944 to 1986 when the last mine shut down.
Many tribal members worked in and near the mines, often living and raising families in close proximity to the mines and mills.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly says countless tribal members have suffered from health and environmental impacts from uranium contamination.