Interior Secretary Zinke is being asked to reopen areas near the Grand Canyon to new uranium mining. These same areas were closed to new mining for 20 years in 2012 in order to protect water quality and the health of local residents. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and through it flows the life blood of the southwest — water. Millions of people in the region, elk and mule deer on the Kaibab plateau, and rainbow trout at Lee’s Ferry all depend on clean water from this watershed. The Grand Canyon area is arguably the most defining place in the Southwest. Why would we risk uranium mining near this national treasure?
Studies of existing uranium mine sites by the United States Geological Survey reveal an alarming pattern of contamination including radioactive dust concentrations well above normal and well and spring water that exceeds federal safety standards. The Navajo Nation contends with the human tragedy of illness and disease from these mines while taxpayers are burdened with mine clean-up costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
We should simply say “no” to re-opening uranium mining in this area. This is not a partisan issue. We know enough about the risks to our natural resources, to the economy of northern Arizona, and to the communities that depend on the water to know that uranium mining near the Grand Canyon is a terrible idea.
Let’s keep the current moratorium on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.