By Jessica Goad
Today the Center for American Progress and the Sierra Club released a series of short documentary videos called “Public Lands, Private Profits.”
One of the stories, “A Grand Threat,” profiles the new rush to extract uranium around Grand Canyon National Park. A Canadian company is currently excavating uranium at one mine on the north rim of the canyon, and it has plans for more mines in the near future.
Although Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar set one million acres off-limits to mineral extraction this past January, that decision applied only to new mining claims, not those already in existence. There are approximately 3,500 mining claims that may be valid — potentially resulting in up to 11 uranium mines near the Grand Canyon.
Shockingly, these new mines are moving forward under environmental studies and plans of operation last approved in the 1980s. Although the Interior Department and the Forest Service have full authority to demand updated environmental reviews, they have not taken that step.
And just two weeks ago, Kaibab National Forest Supervisor Mike Williams agreed to let Denison move forward with its plans to develop the Canyon Mine (featured in the video) under environmental and cultural impact studies from 1986.
Last week, Denison Mines sold its U.S. assets to Energy Fuels Incorporated. Denison declined to comment, but Energy Fuels explained that it is “highly cognizant” of the responsibilities of mining in the region.
Opponents of uranium mining fear that any water pollution could take years to clean up. To find out more about this issue or to take action, visit the Sierra Club’s website.
Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.