Bill Would Ban New Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon National Park

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 3:57pm
Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 3:58pm
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Laurel Morales/KJZZ
In 2016, mine-shaft drilling pierced shallow aquifers, causing water pumped from the mine to spike.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema introduced legislation Thursday that would ban any new uranium mining on land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.

The legislation would make permanent a ban on new uranium mining claims on a million acres of land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. The Havasupai Tribe has been fighting the impacts of uranium mining on its drinking water for decades.

"Thirty years ago, when we first began fighting against the disastrous effects of uranium mining in our homelands, we were alone in this fight," Havasupai Chairwoman Muriel Uqualla said.

Trout Unlimited's Nathan Rees said this bill also will help protect mule deer herds, the trout fishery and other wildlife.

"We really don't understand the hydrogeology of this area and it's just too sensitive to mine," Rees said. "Canyon Mine was supposed to be a dry mine shaft and it's flooded. It flooded a few years ago and they're still pumping contaminated water out of that."

In October, Congress passed a similar bill. The major difference is the Senate bill would ensure a study to gauge the availability of uranium in the U.S.

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