EPA Removes Tons of Contaminated Soil from Grants, NM, Area Residences
DALLAS – (July 10, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently completed the removal of thousands of tons of contaminated soil from eight residential properties near San Mateo, NM, known as the Crossroads area. The properties are part of the Grants Mining District Superfund site, an area of legacy contamination associated with uranium mining operations.
“It is important that we address contamination that is too close to homes,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “At EPA, we are working with our partners to make a visible difference in communities and provide everyone an environment where they can thrive.”
Workers excavated 6,900 cubic yards of soil contaminated with excess gamma radiation from the eight properties and replaced it with clean soil. The excavated material included four to six inches of topsoil, as well as a large amount of old contaminated backfill that was discovered under it. All the contaminated soil was transported to a licensed disposal facility. Two residences with elevated radon levels also had radon abatement systems installed.
An area known as the Grants Mining Belt produced much of the world’s uranium from the 1950s to the late 1990s. The belt extends along the southern margin of the San Juan Basin in Cibola, McKinley, Sandoval, and Bernalillo Counties and on tribal lands in New Mexico. During this period, the Crossroads area was surrounded by many working uranium mines and two large uranium mills. As trucks transported uranium ore from the mines to the mills, contaminated debris routinely spilled onto roads, where it was left to further contaminate nearby properties. EPA will continue working with state, local, tribal, and federal partners to assess and address health risks and environmental effects of the abandoned mines.
More information on EPA’s work in the Grants Mining District: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6sf/newmexico/grants/nm_grants_index.html