Northern Arizona University’s Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, ITEP, is playing a critical role in helping the Navajo Nation advance economic opportunities and restore the land impacted by years of contamination.

Recently highlighted in a report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, ITEP was recognized for its accomplishments in providing job opportunities to members of the Navajo Nation, particularly related to the clean up of abandoned uranium mines. The training, which allows participants to become certified OSHA Radiological Technicians and Construction Safety trainees, includes every accreditation needed to become a professional in the related field.

After the operations were shut down due to radiation exposure, there were more than 500 abandoned uranium mines left behind. ITEP is doing its part to make sure these mines are not only cleaned, but that the Navajo Nation residents have a chance to secure the jobs such an operation will create.

As a result of grant funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and financial contributions from the Navajo Nation EPA and Navajo Nation Department of Workforce Development, the training and transportation is free, making it more accessible for those interested to complete the program.

“We’ve been the ones impacted for decades by the contamination, and now we were being shut out of the economic opportunities to clean up and restore our own communities. But this job training program is helping to change that,” said Tommy Charley, program graduate.

To read more about the environmental job training program, see pages 43-46 of the EPA’s full report.