Grand Canyon Uranium Mine to Reopen Despite Federal Ban

Native tribe, environmentalists react with angry lawsuit
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2013 4:48 PM CDT
This image provided by Google Maps shows a view from the Grand Canyon and Colorado River in Oct. 2012 in Arizona.    (AP Photo/Google Maps)

(Newser) – An energy company plans to reopen its uranium mine near the Grand Canyon despite a 20-year federal ban on new uranium mines in the area, the Arizona Republic reports. The Huvasupai Tribe and environmentalists are hopping mad, but Energy Fuels Resources has an argument: Its mine is grandfathered because it was approved back in 1986—and the federal government agrees. Opponents counter that the government didn't know the dangers of uranium mining back in 1986.

They say groundwater pollution will either flow into the canyon or contaminate the tribe's only water source. "It’s sacred to us, and we have been mandated by our people—and our ancestors—to protect the site," says a tribal vice chair. But a hydrogeologist notes that no one knows whether water from the uranium mine would reach the aquifer, which is sometimes 3,000 feet deep. Meanwhile, the tribe has joined environmentalists in a lawsuit to block the mine from reopening. (Read more uranium stories.)

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