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2017. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, EPA & NAVAJO NATION ANNOUNCE SETTLEMENT, CLEANUP OF 94 ABANDONED URANIUM MINES
What you never knew of others suffering within the U.S. borders for our national security.
The significance of the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations to the true Native Americans.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, EPA AND THE NAVAJO NATION ANNOUNCE SETTLEMENT FOR CLEANUP OF 94 ABANDONED URANIUM MINES ON THE NAVAJO NATION
SAN FRANCISCO– The United States and the Navajo Nation have entered into a settlement agreement with two affiliated subsidiaries of Freeport-McMoRan, Inc., for the cleanup of 94 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. Under the settlement, valued at over $600 million, Cyprus Amax Minerals Company and Western Nuclear, Inc., will perform the work and the United States will contribute approximately half of the costs. The settlement terms are outlined in a proposed consent decree filed today in federal court in Phoenix, Arizona. With this settlement, funds are now committed to begin the cleanup process at over 200 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.
The work to be conducted is subject to oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in collaboration with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.
“This remarkable settlement will result in significant environmental restoration on Navajo lands and will help build a healthier future for the Navajo people,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We appreciate the extraordinary commitment by Freeport’s affiliated subsidiaries to clean up 94 mines, and to achieve this settlement without litigation. The Justice Department is always ready to work cooperatively with the Navajo Nation and responsible private parties to address the legacy of uranium mining on Navajo lands.”
“This historic settlement will clean up almost twenty percent of the abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation,” said Acting Regional Administrator, Alexis Strauss for the EPA Pacific Southwest. “Cleaning up the uranium contamination continues to be a top environmental priority for our Regional office.”
The Navajo Nation encompasses more than 27,000 square miles within Utah, New Mexico and Arizona in the Four Corners area. The unique geology of the region makes the Navajo Nation rich in uranium, a radioactive ore in high demand after the development of atomic power and weapons at the close of World War II. Many private entities, including Cyprus Amax (a successor-in-interest to Vanadium Corporation of America and Climax Uranium Company) and Western Nuclear, mined approximately thirty million tons of uranium ore on or near the Navajo Nation between 1944 and 1986. The federal government, through the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), was the sole purchaser of uranium until 1966, when commercial sales of uranium began. The AEC continued to purchase ore until 1970. The last uranium mine on the Navajo Nation shut down in 1986.
Many Navajo people worked in and near the mines, often living and raising families in close proximity to the mines and mills where ore was processed. Since 2008, federal agencies—including EPA, the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Indian Health Service—have collaborated to address uranium contamination on the Navajo Nation. The federal government has invested more than $130 million to address the legacy of abandoned uranium mines on Navajo lands. EPA has also compiled a list of 46 “priority mines” for cleanup and performed stabilization or cleanup work at 9 of those mines. Further, EPA’s cleanup efforts have generated over 100 jobs for Navajo citizens and work for several Navajo owned businesses. The settlement announced today includes 10 priority mines and is expected to create many jobs for Navajo workers.
This settlement agreement resolves the claims of the United States on behalf of EPA against Cyprus Amax and Western Nuclear; of the Navajo Nation against the United States, and against Cyprus Amax and Western Nuclear; and of Cyprus Amax and Western Nuclear against the United States. Cyprus Amax and Western Nuclear agree to perform removal site evaluations, engineering evaluations and cost analyses, and cleanups at the 94 mines. In return for that commitment, the United States, on behalf of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy, agrees to place $335 million into a trust account to help fund the cleanup.
In April 2014, the Justice Department and EPA announced in a separate matter that approximately $985 million of a multi-billion dollar settlement of litigation against subsidiaries of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. will be paid to EPA to fund the clean-up of approximately 50 abandoned uranium mines in and around the Navajo Nation, where radioactive waste remains from Kerr-McGee mining operations. EPA commenced field work with the proceeds from this settlement last year. In addition, the United States previously entered into two settlement agreements with the Navajo Nation to fund cleanups at 16 priority mines and investigations at an additional 30 mines for which no viable responsible private party has been identified.
The proposed consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. Information about submitting a public comment is available at: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees
Department of Justice: 202-514-2007
EPA: Margot Perez-Sullivan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting Hired as an Emergency Manager
BY: Janusz Wasiolek | January 17, 2017What does it take to become an emergency manager? First, emergency management is a white-collar, professional job. The days of the retired firefighter turned emergency manager are fading quickly, replaced by a new breed of highly credentialed, educated professionals whose main career field is emergency management or something very close to it. This is happening because of a combination of governments requiring certain education and experience levels for positions of responsibility, and an industry push toward a greater focus on standards and education.
What that means to the prospective emergency management job seeker is that the core competencies of an emergency manager are only slightly different from that of an engineer, an accountant or an attorney (so much so that many emergency managers started out as engineers, accountants and attorneys). Skills such as clear writing, oral communication, critical thinking, problem solving and project management are highly transferable and form the basis of a professional career. Conversely, if a candidate’s writing skills are poor or they can’t demonstrate the ability to brief a project plan during an interview, the odds of them being hired are marginal at best.
Writing, thinking and communication skills are inseparably linked to presentation, presence and attitude. These are skills and characteristics that should be perfected well in advance of submitting a resume or attending an interview. What do quality presentation, presence and attitude look like? Any decent job-seeking site will just call them the basics of a good interview. This includes showing up on time dressed in a suit and tie, shaking the hand of the person with whom you are interviewing, acting respectfully yet presenting your own ideas, and having a positive attitude about starting the job. Candidates need to look and act the part if they wish their future employer to take them seriously, especially if this is their first job.
Perfecting the art of professionalism takes time, effort, and yes, a bit of money. A few tips to consider:
First, resumes should be reviewed and practice interviews critiqued by someone who will be critical of performance. Best friends and relatives are generally poor at giving constructive feedback. They tend to put their desire not to hurt feelings above providing productive criticism. Educators and professional colleagues are often a better bet. Just be sure to thank them for their time.
Always show up to an interview at least 15 minutes early. It is the respectful thing to do, allows for a margin in case of “poor building design,” and lets you have a casual (yet often invaluable) conversation with potential future colleagues prior to the interview. You may even get a free cup of coffee out of the deal.
Spend the money on a professional suit (grey, black or navy), white shirt, leather business shoes and tie. Then have the suit tailored. Yes, this will cost you around $1,000 total, but trust me, it is the best investment you will make for starting a career after graduation.
Follow up interviews with a “thank you” email (assuming correspondence up to this point was by email, which it usually is), and be sure to follow up about two weeks after the interview if a decision was not yet made.
If this sounds like general job-seeking advice, that is because it is. But it is also where a majority of emergency management candidates trip up and land at the bottom of a two-inch-high stack of resumes. But what about skills specific to emergency management? This is an emergency management article after all, right? Let’s break this up into four categories.
Experience Versus Education
What is more important? This is a chicken versus egg question, because often one is required to get the most of the other. Many entry-level jobs require a few years of experience to even be considered. Nonsensical as this may seem, the part that is often left out is that it does not have to be paid experience, nor does it necessarily have to be experience in an emergency management position. It just has to be passably relevant to the position.
All education and experience is not equal either. A candidate with a four-year degree from a nationally recognized, not-for-profit, regionally accredited residential university who completes a summer internship or two in emergency management has a much higher chance of getting a job than an individual who took every FEMA independent study course available. Online education has its place. YouTube has saved me thousands of dollars in home and car repairs. However, online education alone will not make a great emergency manager. The profession operates on the dynamic interaction of humans under time and resource constraints. That type of knowledge and skill can only be taught with a significant amount of face-to-face interaction. More directly, online education is great for awareness but poor for teaching people how to put ideas into practice. That’s why virtually all of FEMA’s advanced emergency management and incident command courses are taught face-to-face either through certified training officers or by a FEMA instructor.
With regard to experience, I am often asked where someone looking to get started in the emergency management field should look for experience. Unfortunately there is no one right answer. Some resources that may be available are local emergency management outreach programs such as CERT or the Medical Reserve Corps, local emergency management educators such as ones at community colleges or universities, volunteer groups, police department “Citizen Academies” or connections gained through firefighting or EMS. There are dozens of opportunities in every community, but the catch is that they are never the same between two places and discovery takes considerable effort. Keep asking, keep looking online, keep meeting people, and make good impressions with anyone you meet. It can take months to get a foot in the door, but the odds will eventually work out.
Concepts Versus Rhetoric
This may be better called the, “Explain in plain English test,” or “If you can’t explain it clearly, you don’t understand it well enough.” Emergency managers love their jargon. They love it so much that even FEMA’s own acronyms, abbreviations and terms handbook is an acronym itself, called the “FAAT Book.” Even though the terms change with new administrations, the core ideas behind emergency management have changed little in the last decade or three.
For the candidate, that means understanding the functions, objectives and goals of emergency management at the conceptual level. A candidate who can articulate why there is a National Response Framework or what role an emergency manager plays during a snowstorm is far more valuable than a candidate who has memorized every core capability or Emergency Support Function. Want the best test for this? Tell your parents you want to be an emergency manager, explain to them what it is you’d like to do, and then have them explain it back to you. Unlike feedback on a resume, this is a time when a relative’s feedback will be valuable, but for very different reasons. If the parent, aunt, uncle or friend cannot explain back the ideas the job seeker just articulated, then the job seeker should work on understanding the concepts a bit better. Emergency management should (and does) make sense at an intuitive level, but the baggage of proprietary terminology often makes concepts difficult to understand even for experienced practitioners of the field. It is easy to get caught up in the professional vernacular when simplicity of words and thought will do.
Telling Versus Asking
A former boss of mine once said, “The interview does not matter until the candidate starts asking me questions.” Questions indicate how much the candidate has been paying attention, the amount of preparation they did, and if the candidate can demonstrate a critical thought process. Ask questions related to specific activities performed by the organization such as, “How does your organization do community outreach to non-English speaking populations?” or “What were the outcomes of your last major functional exercise?” Candidates should prepare questions to ask prior to the interview, make notes on what questions to ask while the interviewer is talking about the job and organization, and ask follow-up questions even after the interviewer has given an explanation. A more conversational interview is often a better interview.
Vision Versus Historical Perspective
Ultimately what a candidate should demonstrate is a well-thought-out vision rather than a, “We should have done this” view of the past. A good interviewer will ask a forward-looking question such as, “How do you think you could contribute to this organization,” and this should be the candidate’s time to shine. They should have specific things in mind they wish to accomplish, such as improving outreach to populations that may be disproportionately affected by disasters, or implementing technology to assist in tracking of jurisdictionwide resources. Good organizations reward creativity and initiative, and look for candidates who demonstrate both.
The takeaway to all this is that applying to emergency management jobs is not all that different from applying to any other civil service, consulting, or other public-sector or public-sector support (consulting) professional job. If candidates submit a resume and cover letter that would not get an A+ in a college writing class, their odds of getting an interview are very slim because the job market is incredibly competitive. Even with a perfect resume and cover letter, a typical candidate will apply to dozens of jobs before he or she gets an interview. The profession is still too new to have established, objective professional and performance standards, where candidates can be all but guaranteed a job if they rank high enough in their graduating class. Keep trying, keep applying, and keep perfecting resume and interview skills. As a businessman once told me, “Your job is to always be prepared for your next job.”
Janusz Wasiolek spent more than a decade in the emergency response and management field starting as an EMT in Illinois, and winding up in Washington, D.C., doing situational awareness coordination and preparedness assessments work for FEMA. These opinions are his own. email@example.com.
One community got it right. BEMA International
The latest DHS OIG report is available on our website.
The City of Perth Amboy, New Jersey (City), received an $11.3 million grant award from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (New Jersey), a FEMA grantee, for damages resulting from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. We audited nine projects with net awards totaling $8.1 million. Our audit objective was to determine whether the City accounted for and expended FEMA funds according to Federal requirements.
For the projects we reviewed, the City effectively accounted for and expended Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance grant funds according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines. City officials accounted for disaster expenditures on a project-by-project basis; procured contracts for disaster work appropriately, and maintained adequate documentation to support the costs... READ FULL REPORT
Mayor Wilda Diaz
Wilda Diaz was re-elected as Mayor of the City of Perth Amboy for a second [four-year] term in November 2012. She was first sworn-in on July 1, 2008, becoming the first female to hold that office and currently the only elected Latina mayor in the State of New Jersey.
Since her election in 2008, Mayor Diaz has been at the forefront of issues such as expanding programs for our children, youth and families with the use of limited resources, creating an open and honest government, business expansion, job creation and preserving and restoring the City’s history. This includes her efforts placed towards two of the City’s most used historic structures, the Perth Amboy Free Public Library, with nearly $2 million in capital improvements and the redesign plans and preservation of the Perth Amboy Train Station, in 2013.
Diaz, most importantly has taken an unwavering stance to stabilize the City’s financial condition, as she combats $250 million of inherited debt. Her administration established a Capital Improvement Program and other cost reducing strategies, which as a result has reduced the overall debt by over $50 million and saving a community from near bankruptcy.
Diaz’s aggressive business outreach and promotion of business advocacy has welcomed major corporations to Perth Amboy, such as Vopak, Bunzl, Viridian Partners and Buckeye Partners totaling over a $600 million of investment.
Mayor Diaz is also the first woman elected president and chair of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association (NJUMA) as of January 2014. Her two-year term is dedicated to working with state and federal lawmakers and officials to develop appropriate and effective public policy measures that affect all New Jersey cities.
She also currently serves as the Chairwoman for the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency (PARA).
Prior to taking office, Mayor Diaz spent 20 years in the banking industry where she started as a teller at a local bank after graduating from Perth Amboy High School in 1983. She quickly rose through the ranks and was an assistant vice-president with Banco Popular when she won the mayoral seat in May 2008 and as a result, resigned from that position.
A dedicated community activist, Mayor Diaz chaired the Board of Trustees for the Jewish Renaissance Medical Center, a nonprofit group that provides health care to underserved communities.
She was a driving force behind the Puerto Rican Patriotic Cultural Committee (Comité Cultural PatrióticoPuertorriqueño de Perth Amboy), which sponsors the annual Hall Avenue Puerto Rican festival.
Additionally, she served as a member of the Perth Amboy Merchants Association (PAMA) and has been honored by local organizations such as the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development (PRAHD) and the Jewish Renaissance Foundation (JFR) for her involvement in the community.
Mayor Diaz was named by El Diario La Prensa as “Mujeres Destacadas 2012” (Outstanding Women of 2012) and was featured in Real Simple Magazine as, “The Accidental Politician” among only four female mayors in the nation.
Mayor Wilda Diaz is a life-long resident of Perth Amboy and a graduate of Perth Amboy High School. She and her husband Greg have two adult children, Gregory and Samantha.
Mayor's Office Contact Number: 732.826.7121