Navajos Target Jobs, Uranium Cleanup

November 25, 2013

(Photo courtesy of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals)
A photo of a training class from the fact sheet about the Navajo Nation Environmental Workforce Development Program.

The Navajo Nation is getting help from the federal government to reduce unemployment and clean up hundreds of radioactive sites.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has offered $200,000 to combat chronic unemployment on the reservation. The money will fund a program that trains tribal members to safely handle radioactive material.

Ann Marie Chischilly heads the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, the group that will administer the training. She said the Navajo Nation is pocked with 520 abandoned uranium mines that pose a health risk to the community.

“They can be from huge mines, say in the Church Rock area, to little abandoned mines behind someone’s house that they don’t even know exists until they find it one day,” Chischilly said.

The money will train 40 tribal members who are underemployed or unemployed. The application period closes at the end of January.