Arizona issues permits for three uranium mines near Grand Canyon

by March 15, 2011

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has approved water and air quality permits for three uranium mines near the Grand Canyon, including the Arizona 1 mine and the proposed Canyon Mine near Red Butte, a site held sacred by the Havasupai Nation. Brenda Norrell reports.

Sacred place of prayer for the well-being of the world approved for uranium mining in Arizona -- as disaster reveals truth of danger of nuclear power in Japan

Arizona issues uranium mining permits that endanger water supply in Southwest
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. -- As the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, revealing the true danger of nuclear power, Arizona approved uranium mining in the Grand Canyon in a sacred place where prayers are said for the protection of the world.

Gathered at sacred Red Butte in the Grand Canyon to oppose uranium mining here in 2009, Supai said this is a sacred place where they go to offer prayers for the wellbeing of the world.

Speaking of the Supai responsibility to protect the land, water, and air here from the poisons of mining, Supai Waters said, "If we do let this happen, we would be the murderers of the world. We cannot let that happen."

Supai Waters said that protection of the Grand Canyon also affects the weather patterns and climate of the earth.

"My people have lived in the canyon since time immemorial. The canyons contain power points and vortexes. If there is tampering or pillaging, the earth will not be the same. There are places where we guard. These sacred places have to do with the weather, the wind, the sun, the celestial movements. That is why we are here protecting it," Supai Waters said.

Matthew Putesoy, vice chairman of the Havasupai Nation, said the Grand Canyon is a national treasure, inviting 5 million people every year to explore and be inspired by its beauty. "To the Havasuw 'Baaja, who have lived in the region for many hundreds of years, it is sacred. As the 'guardians of the Grand Canyon,' we strenuously object to mining for uranium here. It is a threat to the health of our environment and tribe, our tourism-based economy, and our religion."

American Indian Nations joined local residents to oppose this threat to their water and air.

However, Arizona regulators caved in to the pressure from the corporation -- Denison Mines based in Toronto, Canada -- and the coopted US government.

"Ignoring widespread public opposition, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality today issued three air- and one aquifer-pollution permits for three uranium mines located on public lands within Grand Canyon National Park's immediate watershed," said the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Trust. (See statement below.)

The press statement was issued on March 10, 2011. The earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11.

The Havasupai territory in the Grand Canyon is targeted by this new uranium mining from Denison Mines based in Toronto, Canada. At the same time, Navajo communities and the aquifer that provides their drinking water are threatened by new uranium mining along the borders of their lands in New Mexico. Already, the same area of Church Rock, N.M., was the site of one of the United States worst radioactive spills.

Between Albuquerque and Grants, where Navajos and Pueblos live, there are even more new uranium mining permits issued by the state of New Mexico:

Listen to Native Americans and local residents speak out against this uranium mining at the summit in July of 2009. Recordings by Earthcycles and Censored News. Scroll down the list for 93 audio recordings from the summit at Red Butte:

There will be a benefit concert to Stop Uranium Mining at the Grand Canyon on March 26th in Flagstaff at the Orpheum Theater.

From: Facebook:
Arizona Regulators Risk Damage to Water, Air Near Grand Canyon With Uranium Mine Permits

Press statement from Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Trust

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz.— Ignoring widespread public opposition, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality today issued three air- and one aquifer-pollution permits for three uranium mines located on public lands within Grand Canyon National Park's immediate watershed. Two of the mines, EZ and Pinenut, are located north of Grand Canyon; the Canyon mine is located south of Grand Canyon. All three must undergo federal approval prior to opening.

"Arizona regulators are throwing caution to the winds by risking even more radiological contamination of the soil and water of the Grand Canyon region," said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity, which has fought to protect air and water around the Grand Canyon. "The Department of Environmental Quality has a statutory duty to protect the environment and should have denied the permits. Now it will face appeal."

A U.S. Geological Survey report issued in 2010 found "elevated radioactivity is evident at all sites" previously mined or explored for uranium on public lands north of Grand Canyon. The report also found that "fifteen springs and five wells in the region contain concentrations of dissolved uranium that exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant level for drinking water and are related to mining processes."

In issuing the permits, the state refused to require monitoring for fine particulate matter uranium dust, which can enter the bloodstream through inhalation; alpha radiation can then impact cells and DNA, causing cancer and genetic defects. Fine particulate dust has been linked to several forms of toxicity in humans.

The aquifer pollution permit lacks aquifer water-quality monitoring down-gradient of the mine. It also lacks a remediation plan or bonding for such a plan in case aquifer contamination occurs. The permit issued is a "general" permit — the kind used for gas stations and other common facilities. Under the Napolitano administration, Arizona environmental regulators required a more stringent "individual" permit for the Canyon uranium mine.

"Given the potential threat to the groundwater and ultimately the seeps and springs of Grand Canyon, it is outrageous that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is not requiring the most stringent protections and is moving forward with permitting this mine under a permit that is supposed to be for activities that pose little threat to the aquifer," said Alicyn Gitlin with the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter.

Deep aquifers have already been contaminated by uranium mining around Grand Canyon. Officials are still unsure how to clean up uranium pollution leaching into two Grand Canyon National Park creeks from the closed Orphan Mine on the south rim.

"State regulators in Arizona can't guarantee that mining won't contaminate regional aquifers. If that happens it would be impossible to clean up, and the damage would be permanent," said McKinnon. "The state of Arizona is playing a foolish game of Russian roulette with a precious and irreplaceable resource."

Today's permits were issued as the U.S. Department of the Interior conducts public meetings on its proposal to protect 1 million acres of public land around Grand Canyon National Park from new mining claims and the development of existing claims lacking valid existing rights. All three mines permitted today occur within the million-acre area; none of the mining claims in the area have valid rights.

Contact: Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 310-6713
Alicyn Gitlin, Sierra Club, (520) 491-9528
Roger Clark, Grand Canyon Trust, (928) 774-7488

  • EdBlu
    March 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm



  • Gloria sink
    March 28, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Uranium mining has never been mined safely in the world. Why now. What can be shown to convince anyone it is safe? It is simple greed. The Bible states " man will destroy himself". " The Love Of Money Is The Root Of All Evil". What more can be said? I am within 2 miles of Coles Hill. My family stands to lose everything. HELP


  • Cory
    May 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I visited the Havasupai Nation in the 90's. Even waaay back then there was illegal uranium mining just above the village and uranium was leaching into their water supply. Tribal members were being arrested for protesting and trying to stop the miners.
    Everywhere we turn the corporation devils are poisoning our earth and stealing what we the people hold the most important. The hardest thing is that the police and armies protect THEM because the corporations actually OWN them. Even if we wanted to gather arms and fight our govt as stated in the first amendment, the army has bigger and more powerful arms with which to fight, built using our taxed incomes to develop.

    Please, Please, Please, there has to be an intervention from something more powerful than this nameless demon. Greed and disconnectedness cannot be THEE strongest force in life... that just seems ridiculous. Where will the demon go once all this world is poisoned and eaten up, but into outerspace to other planets with other resources. What kind of humanity will they represent to the rest of the universe when they leave? Will other space cultures know all of humanity as represented by these subhuman greed and hate filled monsters? Will these advanced races with higher technology actually let this newly hatched little demon gain any resemblance of power OUT THERE? I would hope it's doubtful. So why the hell are the demons rushing so hard and fast to destroy this wonderful blue planet and our wonderful lives? Where will they go when it is to toxic to live here? Do they really think they will be welcome somewhere? Anywhere?


  • Lisa Jensen
    May 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    I am shocked. I am sure the news did not say a thing about it. Can you do a protest? The natives, that would be great.


  • May 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    It would be good to see some protests over this, absolutely -- especially now that the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the denial of a Preliminary Injunction against Uranium mining.

    Word on this just came in a few days ago, see


  • Thunderbeing
    May 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I have foreseen Arizona burning so to speak for his insult to this living planet.i suggest that if you live in areas like Arizona Texas Washington,Florida Montana ,and where the 9th circut court is in San Fransisco.All these areas that knew what they were doing was wrong and against the will of mother earth shall face the whirlwind they so desperately want.But he rest of you don't need to be in the middle of this war it is wise to leave these areas this me


  • Anonymous
    August 8, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Get a life people, uranium mining is the most highly regulated industry in the us. Yes even more regulated than your doctor. uranium mining brings Jobs! builds our economy and provides clean efficient energy. So don't buy into this economy killing b.s


    • Ahni
      August 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      Friend, don't waste your time trying to pass off uranium mining as some eco-friendly champion. I mean, there's a reason the industry's so heavily regulated. If you're not sure why, go have a look at the children of Jadugoda, India.

      Uranium is one of the most dangerous minerals on the planet and no amount of good-sounding words can change that.

      The fact of the matter is, like any other industry, accidents are going to happen. Those physical, environmental, economic and cultural risks outweigh any real or perceived benefits.

  • Deplorable Ebenezer
    November 4, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Gotta replace the uranium that Hillary sold to the Russians...


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