Court Decision Could Help Navajo Uranium Cleanup

December 17, 2013

A court decision in a bankruptcy case could result in more than $1 billion for the Navajo Nation to help it clean up uranium contamination. 

Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said the Navajo have prevailed in their claims against Anadarko Petroleum and Kerr-McGee Corporation involving former uranium mines and a uranium processing site. The sites were located in Cove, Ariz. in the far northeastern corner of the state, and Shiprock, NM. in the far northwestern corner of that state.

The bankruptcy judge found the two companies acted "to hinder and delay" creditors, including the Navajo, when Kerr-McGee transferred oil and gas assets into spinoff companies that were "insolvent and undercapitalized."

According to Tsosie, the environmental creditors will get 88 percent of the proceeds from the case which he said will boil down to more than $1 billion for the Navajo to clean up contamination from uranium mining and processing.

But, it could be a while coming. The decision is being appealed.