Arizona cool to new uranium mining

May 15, 2011 at 2:29 PM
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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., May 15 (UPI) -- County officials and environmentalists say they have several concerns about a U.S. government study of the risks of expanded uranium mining in northern Arizona.

The study conducted by the Department of the Interior was chided as overestimating the economic benefit of expanded mining and underestimating the risk to the water supply in the area around the Grand Canyon.

"There is entirely too much risk, too many unknowns and too many identified impacts to justify threatening one of the most important U.S. landmarks and one of the most world-renowned national parks to justify the relatively small economic benefit associated with mining of uranium in the Grand Canyon region," the Coconino County Board of Supervisors said in its written response to the report.

The Interior Department said opening up to 30 new mines and expanding exploration in the area would create hundreds of new jobs. But critics say the economic benefits are overstated, The (Flagstaff) Daily Sun said Sunday.

At stake is the re-opening of about 1 million acres of federal land around the canyon to exploration once a 2-year moratorium expires this summer, the newspaper said.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has not yet made a final decision on allowing the moratorium to expire.

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