The White Mesa uranium mill near Blanding, Utah. Photo: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
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Ute Mountain Ute Tribe challenges new permit for uranium operation





The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is urging the state of Utah not to renew a permit for a controversial uranium operation in its homelands.

The White Mesa uranium mill has been operating with an expired license for more than a decade. It's only three miles from the tribe's village of White Mesa, where residents say it has caused numerous health problems.

“When the mill was going, the wind, and we could smell that smoke, or the dust, and our kids, our grandkids, when they play outside they could inhale that,” resident Thelma Whiskers said at a public hearing last week, KUPR reported.

But the operator of the mill, which is the last of its kind in the United States, has some powerful allies. State politicians are seizing on the Trump administration's review of the Bears Ears National Monument and have told Secretary Ryan Zinke that changing the boundaries will protect the uranium industry , The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

An aerial view of the White Mesa uranium mill near Blanding, Utah. Photo: Ken Lund

Utah's Department of Environmental Quality held two public hearings on the White Mesa mill and is accepting comments until June 30. It's possible a decision on the permit might be reached by the end of the year, The Tribune said.

Citizens of the Navajo Nation who live in the area oppose the mill, along with environmental groups like the Grand Canyon Trust.

Read More on the Story:
Tribes And Greens Oppose America’s Last Uranium Mill (KUPR 6/20)
Utah claims Bears Ears monument will kill uranium industry (The Salt Lake Tribune 6/9)
After operating with an expired license for a decade, White Mesa uranium mill may get new permits (The Salt Lake Tribune 6/8)

Some Opinions:
Yolanda Badback: Put White Mesa’s children ahead of uranium mill (The Salt Lake Tribune 6/17)
Editorial: Rules for White Mesa uranium mill are not confidence inspiring (The Salt Lake Tribune 6/12)