Environmentalists worry about water pouring into uranium mine - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Environmentalists worry about water pouring into uranium mine

(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The Canyon Mine in northern Arizona has been in the planning phases since the 1980’s. It has survived five court challenges, multiple reviews and it is finally just about ready to produce uranium ore. But environmentalists are concerned about something that started happening at the mine at the end of 2016.

That’s when the main shaft struck an aquifer and the mine began taking on water.

[SPECIAL SECTION: CBS 5 Investigates]

“They’ve been pumping the water out,” said Alicyn Gitlin, who is the Grand Canyon conservation program manager for the Sierra Club.

She argues that there are too many unanswered questions about what potentially contaminated water can do to the water table, the wildlife and the surrounding communities.

The location of the mine adds some urgency to the debate. It stands less than 10 miles from the Grand Canyon.

“We have very little knowledge about the nature of any fractures or cracks that have been in this area or how the groundwater moves,” said Gitlin. “What we’re seeing is wildlife, especially in this drought year, using this as a water source,” she said.

But to Mark Chalmers, who is the CEO of Energy Fuels Resources, which owns the mine, this is just another attack on an operation that has withstood scrutiny since its inception.

“Both the US Forest Service and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality continue to support the mine to this day,” wrote Chalmers in an email to CBS 5 Investigates.

The Energy Fuels website states that the Canyon Mine is the highest-grade uranium mine being developed in the U.S. today.

But according to information from the U.S. Forest Service, the mine is not operating today because the price of uranium is too low. Recent moves by the Trump Administration may change that.

Last week, the U.S. Commerce Department announced that it was exploring the idea of limiting or restricting the importation of Uranium from outside the country. That could raise the domestic price and make mines like the Canyon Mine more profitable.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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