Infographics & the West

Uranium Mine Sites in the United States

Since 1994, when the EPA started to address uranium mine sites, cleanup efforts of mining sites have been slow.

By Geoff McGhee and Kate Selig

The new Office of Mountains, Deserts and Plains will oversee the cleanup of thousands of hard-rock mining sites west of the Mississippi River, including the abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation. Most local authorities, private experts and activists agree that since 1994, when the EPA started to address the mines, cleanup efforts of uranium mining sites have been slow. And that has had potentially deadly consequences: known effects of uranium exposure include compromised immune function and various forms of cancer.

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler has pitched the new office as an answer to a “one-size-fits-all” approach to environmental remediation. “Creating a western lands-focused office will not only give EPA the ability to prioritize and accelerate cleanup of mining sites in the West,” he wrote in a guest column for the Colorado Springs Gazette, “it will also act as a model for other regions across America needing to address their own unique environmental challenges.”

The early September announcement of the office’s opening comes as the Trump administration proposes to promote uranium mining to improve what it calls the country’s “competitive nuclear advantage.” The administration unveiled a plan in late April to relax barriers to uranium mining on federal lands and develop a $150 million uranium reserve over the next decade.

Related article: Can a New EPA Office Expedite Uranium Cleanup on Navajo Land? Not if Past Is Prologue.


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Staff and Contributors

Felicity Barringer

Lead writer

A national environmental correspondent during the last decade of her 28 years at The New York Times, Felicity provided an in-depth look at the adoption of AB 32, California’s landmark climate-change bill after covering state’s carbon reduction policies. MORE »

Geoff McGhee

Associate editor

Geoff McGhee specializes in interactive data visualization and multimedia storytelling. He is a veteran of the multimedia and infographics staffs at The New York Times, Le Monde and MORE »

Xavier Martinez

Xavier Martinez

Editorial Assistant

Xavier graduated from Stanford in 2023 with a degree in economics and is currently a master’s student in Stanford’s journalism program. He has written about the high phone call costs faced by U.S. inmates, temporary Mexican workers’ interactions with the labor market and the efficacy of government healthcare assistance programs. A lifelong lover of charts and maps, he enjoys combining data journalism with narrative-style reporting. 

‘& the West’ is published by the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, which is dedicated to research, teaching, and journalism about the past, present, and future of the North American West.

Bruce E. Cain

Faculty Director

Kate Gibson

Associate Director

Past Contributors

Rani Chor
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2024
Syler Peralta-Ramos
Editorial Assistant, Spring 2022
Anna McNulty
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2021
Melina Walling
Editorial Assistant, Spring 2021
Benek Robertson
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2021
Maya Burke
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2020
Kate Selig
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2020

Francisco L. Nodarse
Editorial Assistant, Summer 2020
Devon R. Burger
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2020
Madison Pobis
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2019
Sierra Garcia
Editorial Assistant, Summer 2019

Danielle Nguyen
Editorial Assistant, Spring 2019
Carolyn P. Rice
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2019
Rebecca Nelson
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2018
Emily Wilder
Editorial Assistant, Summer 2018
Alessandro Hall
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2018 
Josh Lappen
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2017
Natasha Mmonatau
Editorial Assistant, Spring 2017
Alan Propp
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2017

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