Ute Mountain Ute Tribe demands action on uranium mill site

The White Mesa Uranium Mill is only three miles from the Utah portion of the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. Photo from Energy Fuels

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is asking the state of Utah for help in addressing emissions from uranium mill ponds.

The ponds at the White Mesa Uranium Mill lie just three miles from a community on the reservation. Calculations predict that the facility generates radioactive emissions at far higher than acceptable levels.

But attempts to get the Environmental Protection Agency to address the matter appear to have gone unresolved. So the tribe and environmental groups want the state to step in, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

"You must take action now. There needs to be a discussion and further investigation," Sarah Fields of Uranium Watch told the Utah Air Quality Board at a public meeting on Wednesday, the paper reported.

The tribe is primarily based in Colorado but its reservation extends into Utah, where the White Mesa community is based. The community sits downwind from the uranium site so emissions are a big issue.

The White Mesa Mill is the only fully-licensed and operating conventional uranium mill, according to the Energy Fuels, the company that runs the facility.

The uranium mine in the Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property of the Havasupai Tribe of Arizona. The Grand Canyon sits six miles to the north. Photo by Bruce Gordon / Ecoflight

The company also operates a uranium mine six miles from Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The Havasupai Tribe opposes the facility but lost a court challenge last month.

The tribe and environmental groups are taking the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Get the Story:
Environmental groups, Ute Tribe worried about radon emissions from uranium mill, ask state to intervene (The Salt Lake Tribune 5/6)
More legal wrangling over uranium mine near Grand Canyon (The Summit County Voice 5/4)
Arizona Uranium Mine Decision Appealed by Plaintiffs (The Phoenix New-Times 5/1)

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Native Sun News: Walk hits uranium mining sites on reservations (4/17)