Stop Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon

Target: U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region

Goal: Protect the Grand Canyon’s ecosystem, wildlife, and nearby tribes from harmful uranium mining

The U.S. Forest Serve has allowed a Canadian energy company to reopen an old uranium mine, located just six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park, despite widespread protest that the mine will threaten wildlife habitats and regional water supplies.

In spite of President Obama’s 20-year moratorium on developing new uranium mines on land surrounding the park, the U.S. Forest Service has reissued the permit for the Canyon Mine as an existing claim. This occurred without further examination of new information of radioactive and environmental threats or consultation with local tribes. Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. is expected to reopen the Canyon Mine in 2015.

The Canyon Mine was originally approved in 1986 and has consistently been the subject of protests by conservationists and local tribes who claim uranium mining will threaten cultural values, biodiversity, and increase the risk of pollution of soil and groundwater in and near the Grand Canyon. The areas surrounding the park that will be affected by mining contain significant Native American spiritual sites and largely untouched old-growth forests. These lands have been home to the indigenous Havasupai Tribe for around 800 years. The mine is located within the boundaries of Red Butte, a significant cultural landmark for the Havasupai.

Beyond posing an aesthetic threat, uranium mining could also contaminate the Red Wall aquifer, a primary water source for the Grand Canyon and sole source of water for the Havasupai. Exposure to uranium is detrimental to human health and can result in cancers and liver damage. Uranium mining releases radon gas into the environment, one of many chemicals not regulated at the time of the last environmental review. This initial review also ignored the designation of Red Butte as a Traditional Cultural Property and endangered species such as the California condor.

According to Michael Brune, Executive Director of The Sierra Club, scientific studies have revealed a strong connection between nearby groundwater sources and the “seeps, springs, and creeks” of Grand Canyon. “If this mine pollutes the groundwater, it pollutes Grand Canyon,” says Brune.

The Havasupai Tribe, Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Grand Canyon Trust recently sued the Forest Service for “alleged violations of environmental, mining, public land and historic preservation laws.” Opponents of the mine worry that the outcome of this case could set a dangerous precedent for future attempts to reopen old uranium mines. Please help voice your disapproval of destructive mining near the Grand Canyon.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear U.S. Forest Service, Southwestern Region,

We implore you to take action to prevent irreparable damage to the environment and preserve the integrity of the Grand Canyon National Park by reversing your approval of the Canyon uranium mine.

Uranium mining has been proven to negatively impact human health and the environment through destruction of wildlife habitat, exposure to radioactive chemicals, and groundwater contamination. The contamination of the Red Wall aquifer would have devastating effects on the indigenous Havasupai Tribe who depend on the aquifer as their sole source of water. Don’t allow powerful economic interests to trump environmental concerns and the preservation of cultural heritage.

It’s your duty to fully research the potential impacts of the mine and provide an update to the previous environmental review that was conducted over two decades ago before further action is taken. We hope that when these threats are fully recognized, the decision to allow mining near the Grand Canyon will be overturned.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Al-HikesAZ via Flickr

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