Category Archives: Outdoors

Uranium Company Calls Us “Egregious”? Sierra Club Offers Defensible Facts.

In the Phoenix New Times story, Canyon Mine Faces Accusations of Environmental Racism by Navajos, Sierra Club (March 21, 2017), the vice president for marketing and corporate development at Energy Fuels Nuclear (USA) Inc., who owns Canyon Mine, had a few interesting things to say.  Unfortunately, he put forward no evidence behind his statements, and we have photos and documents to back up ours.

 

1.) Water being trucked from Canyon Mine has elevated levels of uranium, and possibly other toxic chemicals too.  The Phoenix New Times article reported: 

…a spokesman for Energy Fuels previously told the Arizona Daily Sun that the water being trucked through the Navajo Nation has three times the amount of dissolved uranium than is considered “safe” to drink. And in a November report to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the company noted that the water contains 30 times the recommended level of arsenic.

But now Curtis Moore, vice president for marketing and corporate development at Energy Fuels, says that the water is not contaminated. “The excess water we are managing is relatively clean, and contains only trace amounts of natural uranium,” he wrote in an e-mailed response.

“In fact, the water we are trucking offsite either meets – or comes very close to meeting – EPA drinking water standards for dissolved uranium.”

FACT: Energy Fuels Nuclear (USA) Inc. told the Arizona Daily Sun that the water contained 90 micrograms per liter, three times the drinking water “standard” of 30 micrograms per liter set by the EPA.  This level of uranium contamination was confirmed in a conversation between Sierra Club and the Kaibab National Forest on March 17, 2017. This level is lower than the amount that Energy Fuels Nuclear (USA) Inc. reported to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in its “General Aquifer Protection Permit Annual Report for 2016”, when they reported 130 micrograms per liter of uranium (over four times the drinking water standard) and 292 micrograms per liter of arsenic (over 29 times the drinking water standard for arsenic) in water taken from the shaft of Canyon Mine on November 9, 2016.

 

2.) Contaminated water is being sprayed in the air – and radioactive mist is drifting into the Kaibab National Forest.

Making matters even worse, the Sierra Club says, Energy Fuels is now spraying some of the water from the mine into the air in an attempt to get it to evaporate. Photos captured by Sierra Club and Haul No! volunteers appear to show radioactive mist drifting into the Kaibab National Forest, which surrounds the mine…

Curtis Moore of Energy Fuels disputed the environmental group’s claims.

“We are not blowing water into the forest, as the Sierra Club claims,” he wrote in his e-mailed response.

“We have employed some commonly utilized enhanced evaporation machines that creates a mist over the pond to speed evaporation rates, which we shutdown during high-wind days to avoid the potential of the mist of this relatively clean water from crossing our fence-line.”

FACT: Here’s a picture taken at Canyon Mine on March 12, 2017, outside the perimeter fence of Canyon Mine, on a day when the average wind speed was only 4mph at the nearby Grand Canyon Airport, with gusts of 20 to 30 mph.

Overspray of radioactively contaminated water drifts into the Kaibab National Forest near Canyon Mine. Klee Benally photo.

Overspray of radioactively contaminated water drifts into the Kaibab National Forest near Canyon Mine. Klee Benally photo.

 

Aaaaaand, here’s another one:

Overspray of radioactively contaminated water drifts into the Kaibab National Forest near Canyon Mine. Klee Benally photo.

Overspray of radioactively contaminated water drifts into the Kaibab National Forest near Canyon Mine. Klee Benally photo.

Sure looks to me like the toxic mist is hitting the forest…

 

3.) Trucks moving uranium-laced water through the Navajo and Ute Nations are mislabelled or poorly marked.

FACT:  This photo shows a truck arriving at Canyon Mine’s front gate to pick up a load of water headed for the White Mesa uranium mill in Blanding, Utah.  The placard says “1268” which is a marking indicating the truck is hauling petroleum products.  Nothing indicates the presence of uranium in the truck’s contents.

A truck arrives at Canyon Mine to pick up radioactively contaminated water to haul to the White Mesa uranium mill in Blanding, UT. The placard is labelled for petroleum products. Ryan Beam photo.

A truck arrives at Canyon Mine to pick up radioactively contaminated water to haul to the White Mesa uranium mill in Blanding, UT. The placard is labelled for petroleum products. Ryan Beam photo.

 

Facts.  Nothing but facts here.

Please let us know what you think.

 

 

U.S. Court of Appeals to Hear Back-to-Back Cases on Uranium Mining Threats to the Grand Canyon Region, Thursday Dec. 15 in San Francisco

 

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Uranium mining on the plateaus surrounding Grand Canyon threatens creeks below its rims.  Uranium contamination from the Orphan Mine has rendered Horn Creek, between the popular Bright Angel and Hermit Trails, undrinkable.

Contacts:

Ted Zukoski, Earthjustice (303) 641-3149tzukoski@earthjustice.org

Neil Levine, Grand Canyon Trust (720) 339-0800nlevine@grandcanyontrust.org

Richard W. Hughes, Rothstein Donatelli LLP, (505) 988-8004rwhughes@rothsteinlaw.com

Eric Bontrager, National Parks Conservation Association (202) 770.7419ebontrager@npca.org

Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club-Grand Canyon Chapter (602) 999-5790sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org

 

San Francisco — The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco will hear oral arguments Thursday, December 15 on two key cases involving uranium mining on public lands near Grand Canyon National Park.

In the first case, Havasupai Tribe v. Provencio, the Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club challenge the United States Forest Service’s decision to allow Energy Fuels Resources to reopen the Canyon uranium mine, which was initially approved in the 1980s and had been closed since 1992. The federal agency permitted this “zombie” mine to reopen without analyzing the mine’s environmental impacts in light of changed circumstances in the intervening quarter-century.

The Canyon Mine is located on the Kaibab National Forest, a few miles south of Grand Canyon National Park, and is within a one million acre area that was withdrawn from mining in 2012 due to concerns about uranium mining’s environmental and cultural threats to the Grand Canyon watershed.

2012 11 21 Canyon Mine aerial 2

Canyon Mine was approved with no new environmental review after being closed for a quarter of a century.

Richard Hughes of Rothstein Donatelli LLP will argue on behalf of the Havasupai Tribe; Neil Levine of Grand Canyon Trust will argue on behalf of conservation groups.

The second case, National Mining Association v. Jewell, involves mining and uranium industries’ challenges to the Interior Department’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims on public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

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Northern Arizona students protest uranium mining near Grand Canyon.

The ban was requested in 2008 by Arizona’s governor, local governments, American Indian tribes, recreationists, and conservation groups concerned about a uranium mining boom’s impact on groundwater, cultural resources, and the iconic landscapes surrounding the Grand Canyon. It was issued by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2012. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona upheld the ban in two rulings, one in 2013 (decision here) and the other in 2014 (decision here), and the mining interests appealed.

The nonprofit law firm, Earthjustice, will represent the Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and National Parks Conservation Association in defending the ban. Department of Justice attorneys will also defend the Interior Department’s decision.

 


What: Arguments in Havasupai Tribe v. Provencio and National Mining Association v. Jewell before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Where: Courtroom 4, Room 260

               James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse

               95 Seventh St.

             San Francisco, Calif.

When: Approximately 9:30 a.m. PST, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016

Streaming: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/live_oral_arguments.php.


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Praise for Rep. Kirkpatrick’s Endorsement of Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, September 30, 2016

Contact: Celia Barotz, cbarotz@gmail.com, (928) 853-7295

Photo of House Rock Valley from Kaibab Plateau: trees, canyon

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick (AZ-1) today announced her support of the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, signing on as a co-sponsor to the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act. Kirkpatrick joins a long list of those speaking out for a monument designation, including more than 20 area Tribal Nations, more than 400 local businesses, and local and national leaders.

“I applaud Rep. Kirkpatrick for standing with many people in Arizona and throughout the country who want to safeguard these lands from new uranium mines,” said Celia Barotz, Vice-Mayor of Flagstaff.

The proposal enjoys strong support in the state, with 4 in 5 Arizonans supporting protecting the public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon as a national monument– support reflected nationwide with 82% of people in favor of the proposal. Across the country more than half a million people have joined the call for action by President Obama.

“What’s good for the environment is also good for our economy. People travel from around the world to see an untouched Grand Canyon, not uranium mining operations,” said Ash Patel, president and CEO of Southwest Hospitality Management, LLC and past chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.  “Protecting Grand Canyon for future generations is dear to my heart. The step Rep. Kirkpatrick took today brings us one step closer to ensuring this natural beauty stays in its more rare form.”

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Say NO to Uranium Mining Around Grand Canyon!

Speak up at Uranium Mine Public Hearings

Canyon Mine_ Sarah Ponticello photo

Canyon uranium mine.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is issuing new air quality permits to three uranium mines within 20 miles of Grand Canyon National Park. Two mines are preparing to open for the first time: Canyon Mine south of Grand Canyon and EZ Mine north of Grand Canyon. One mine is on “standby” and not currently producing ore: Arizona 1 Mine north of Grand Canyon. The Pinenut Mine, also north of Grand Canyon, is preparing for “reclamation” and is not being required to have an air quality permit.

ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING:

Monday, August 29 6pm

Fredonia High School Gymnasium

221 E. Hortt St.

Fredonia

Tuesday, August 30 1pm-3pm

Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites
Tsotsvalki Conference Center
Tunatya Room #3
Junction of Hwy 160 and Hwy 264 in Tuba City 

Tuesday, August 30 6 pm

Sinagua Middle School Auditorium Mini A

3950 E. Butler Ave.

Flagstaff

SUBMIT A WRITTEN COMMENT:

Written comments are due August 30. More information and link to submit comments at https://www.azdeq.gov/PN/EnergyFuelsResources

 

Here are some talking points to use when preparing your comments. Choose points you feel confortable talking about, and personalize with your own reasons for opposing these mines. If you have questions or want help preparing for the hearing, contact Alicyn at alicyn.gitlin@sierraclub.org or (928) 774-6514.

  • Deny these permits. These mines are all located in Grand Canyon’s watershed and threaten the water, soil, and air of the Grand Canyon ecoregion.
  • It is ADEQ’s responsibility to protect the air and water resources of this state, and to enforce the Clean Air Act and protect the citizens from pollution.
  • Uranium dust is most dangerous when ingested or inhaled. Once inside the human body, it can damage the lungs, kidneys, bones, or cause birth defects. Trucks will only be covered with tarps and can spread dust along roadways. They can also pick up contamination from the ground at the mine and shed it as they travel.

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    Northern Arizona University students protest a mine approved before they were born and shuttered until the present day.  Students demanded a public approval process that included them.  Their demands were denied by the Forest Service.

  • Ore trucks should be completely sealed – not just covered with a secure tarp.
  • 10-12 trucks per day will move through Valle, Williams, Flagstaff, Cameron, Tuba City, and much of the Navajo Nation on their way to a mill in Blanding, UT; then, empty trucks will return along the same path. Tell ADEQ how the risks associated with these mines affects your ability to enjoy your property and to feel safe on your community’s roadways and public lands. Tell them about your fear of inhaling dust or receiving a dose of radiation while sharing the roads with these vehicles. Make your testimony personal.
  • Contamination was found around the closed and reclaimed Pigeon and Hermit mines north of Grand Canyon, and soils near roads were also contaminated. Roads near the 1979 Church Rock, NM uranium mining disaster showed contamination near haul roads. There must be dust sampling along all haul roads, and communities should be prepared with emergency response plans in case of an accident causing an ore spill.
  • Uranium and arsenic have been consistently detected at elevated levels in the soils surrounding previously mined areas in northern Arizona.
  • Red Butte, adjacent to Canyon Mine, is a Traditional Cultural Property that is significant to the Havasupai, Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, and Hualapai tribes.
  • The Plan of Operations for Canyon Mine is over 30 years old and should be revised before air permits for it are issued.

    CANYON MINE 1

    10-12 trucks per day will travel from Canyon Mine, 6 miles south of Grand Canyon, through Williams, Flagtaff, Cameron, Tuba City, and much of the Navajo Nation on their way to a mill in Blanding, Utah.

  • The EZ Mine has had no federal review under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, or National Historic Preservation Act. ADEQ should wait for these processes to be complete and before issuing an air permit.
  • Require a permit for and monitoring of the Pinenut Mine (Permit #62876) until all radioactive material has been removed and no contamination or radiation can be detected for at least a year.
  • The permittee, Energy Fuels, is responsible for monitoring dust and emissions, and self-reporting emissions that exceed legal limits. They will also self report deviations from permit requirements. An independent third party should be responsible for monitoring and reporting problems.
  • The amount of water required to suppress dust will be large in comparison to the amount of groundwater available in the region. That groundwater is important to maintain vital seeps and springs that humans and wildlife depend on.

    2012 11 21 Canyon Mine aerial 1

    Canyon Mine.

  • Radon emissions (radon-222) limitations will be calculated as a function of the number of pounds of material processed, instead of having a hard limit on the amount of radon released. ADEQ should limit the total amount of radon that the mine is allowed to release per hour. Ore processing should not be allowed to occur at a rate that causes emissions to exceed the limit.
  • Soil and radiation monitoring outside the fence will be 100 feet from the fence. Sampling should also occur closer to the fence to catch problems before they spread that far.
  • Soil sampling will only happen once per year. It should happen at least quarterly. Gamma radiation will be monitored quarterly. Outside independent monitors should perform these activities.
  • We know that soil contamination has occurred near other areas where ore and mined rock have been able to stand at uranium mines. ADEQ shouldn’t wait until contamination is found before ordering the mine to implement measures to protect the ore piles. As a condition of this permit, the mine should have to: construct wind barriers, storage silos, or a three-sided walled enclosures to protect ore piles; or, piles should be covered with tarp, plastic, or other material that is regularly checked for tears and maintained as necessary to prevent holes and abrasions.

Related:

State of Arizona Asked to Reject Permit Renewals for Uranium Mines Near Grand Canyon National Park http://www.sierraclub.org/arizona/blog/2016/08/state-arizona-asked-reject-permit-renewals-for-uranium-mines-near-grand-canyon

Outdoor Retailer Show: Industry Leaders Call for Grand Canyon Monument

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Contact: Sarah Ponticello, info@gcwatershed.org, 831-998-2585

View as webpage

People standing on edge of a canyon with a quote from Nazz Kurth, president of Petzl America: "We cannot afford to stay static; a national monument is needed to preserve the outdoor experience of these public lands."

SALT LAKE CITY– As the Outdoor Retailer show gets underway in Salt Lake City,  leaders in the outdoor industry have united to urge President Obama to act quickly on a proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument in Arizona. The leaders join a long list of those speaking out for a monument designation, including more than 20 area Tribal Nations, nearly 100 local businesses, and local and national elected leaders.

The proposal enjoys strong support in the state, with 4 in 5 Arizonans supporting protecting the public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon as a national monument. Nationwide more than half a million people have joined the call for action by President Obama.

“During the Winter Outdoor Retailer show, it was clear that passions run deep in our industry for protecting the Greater Grand Canyon,” said John Sterling, executive director of the Conservation Alliance, which hosted a breakfast event that highlighted the monument proposal. “Since then support has continued to grow, as has the need to act. Now is the time to protect the Greater Grand Canyon’s heritage.”

“The Greater Grand Canyon boasts some great climbs, but it also hosts forests, grasslands and meadows. That opportunity for surprise is what ignites the passion for exploration that is central to Petzl’s mission. We cannot afford to stay static; a national monument is needed to preserve the outdoor experience of these public lands,” said Nazz Kurth, president of Petzl America.

“I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of my love for the outdoors, working with companies like Patagonia and Keen, which share my belief that access to wild places is foundational nourishment for the human spirit—a belief fed and watered largely by experiences offered by places like the Greater Grand Canyon,” said Casey Sheahan, Keen Footwear board of advisors.

“Future generations deserve to experience the unspoiled beauty of the Grand Canyon and the surrounding landscape as their ancestors did, as I and my family have,” said Danny Giovale, Kahtoola founder. “President Obama has an opportunity to ensure that all Americans have the chance to experience the grandeur of Grand Canyon’s watershed through the creation of the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. I urge him to work with the tribal nations and make a designation quickly. It’s a move that will benefit us all.”

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