A Canadian company has received federal approval to proceed with a uranium mine near the Grand Canyon despite a ban put in place by President Obama last year. Energy Fuels Resources has skirted the ban by producing a 1986 environmental report conducted by the United States Forest Service, The Guardian reports, but several conservation groups and the Havasupai tribe have dismissed the report as being outdated. The mine will clearcut a stretch of land as large as a Walmart parking lot just six miles from the South Rim entrance to the Grand Canyon, which is up to 70 million years old.
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Roger Clark, a Grand Canyon Trust director, told The Guardian that despite claims from Energy Fuels Resources that the uranium mine is tiny, it will include the parking lot-sized mine, two mine shafts, a tailing pond and a metal building. “That’s a fairly impressive imposition on an otherwise undisturbed landscape,” said Clark.
The Canadian company also claimed that uranium occurs naturally and therefore poses no threat, but Clark notes that radioactive properties only occur once the uranium is exposed to air and water. Then it releases radon gas, which was not regulated when the US Forest Service conducted the 1986 study. He also warned that the mine threatens the most important source of water aside from the Colorado River – the Red Wall Aquifer.
“Once that aquifer is contaminated, there’s no turning back.”
Via The Guardian