Conservationists say little has changed at southern Utah uranium mill

By Ron Dungan
Published: Monday, April 11, 2022 - 3:48pm
Updated: Tuesday, April 12, 2022 - 8:11am

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White Mesa Mill
Ron Dungan/KJZZ
White Mesa Mill in southern Utah.

In December, the Environmental Protection Agency warned that a uranium mill in southern Utah was in violation of environmental guidelines.

Conservationists have found little has changed since then.

The EPA found that the mill operator had failed to cover a tailings cell with enough water, which helps reduce radon emissions into the atmosphere.

The agency wrote that the condition was unacceptable. Last week, representatives from the Grand Canyon Trust and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe found even less water in the impoundment.

“I was sort of shocked to discover that the level of the liquid is even lower than it was last summer," said Tim Peterson of the Grand Canyon Trust. "So, not only has this violation not been corrected, the problem is actually a little bit worse.”

The trust says the mill changed its business model from processing ore to processing nuclear waste when the price of uranium was low. In recent weeks the war in Ukraine has led to higher prices.


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