New Mexico is offering to help the Navajo Nation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figure out how to best use $1 billion to clean up abandoned uranium mines throughout the region.
The money is part of a massive settlement the federal government reached with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. It resolved a legal battle over Tronox Inc., a spin-off of Kerr-McGee, a company that operated dozens of uranium mines in the area, including 21 in New Mexico.
New Mexico officials decided in 2009 not to participate in Tronox's bankruptcy proceedings, leaving the state with no say in how the cleanup funds are to be used.
Gov. Susana Martinez's administration says the state lucked out in that the definition of the sites to be cleaned up is broad enough to include those in northwestern New Mexico.
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