Uranium and the Grand Canyon – A Call to Close and Cleanup the Pinyon Plains Uranium Mine

One of the most beautiful and majestic sights is found by looking across and down into the Grand Canyon at the spread of the red walls, the patches of green and the glorious Colorado River.  All of this is threatened by an exemption from a federal law banning uranium mining in the watershed that feeds the complex river system.  Uranium mining is allowed on U.S. Forest Service lands where the Pinyon Plains Uranium Mine is located less than ten miles from the Grand Canyon’s south rim.  https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/grand-canyon-uranium  

In December 2023, the Pinyon Plains Uranium Mine, formerly called the Canyon Mine, began mining operations.  The owner of the mine, Energy Fuels Inc., plans to begin transporting extracted uranium 300 miles across the Navajo Nation to the corporation’s White Mesa Uranium Mill in southeast Utah.  https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/white-mesa-uranium-mill and https://www.energyfuels.com/

Tribes and others in this large area know little about the corporation’s plans for transporting the dangerous materials.  The federal and state agencies have done little, or none, of the required consultation with the tribes and communities about the transportation plans.  The corporation has brought the threat of harm while ignoring its responsibilities to consult with those who want to keep their families safe.  See links to the Uranium and the Grand Canyon panel conversation below.

The Navajo Nation passed a law against the transport of uranium across its lands. https://opvp.navajo-nsn.gov/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/President-Nygren-signs-uranium-legislation-for-April-30.pdf  It is unknown what the Nation will do when the first load leaves the mine.   It is irresponsible to mine, let alone transport uranium ore through the Grand Canyon Watershed when we have already experienced the harm done to all living beings by decades of uranium mining.

A recent mapping project by Stanford University shows about 23,000 abandoned uranium mines across the country.  One must question beginning a new round of uranium mining when closure and cleanup of previous mining efforts have not been done.  As a result, water continues to be contaminated.

New groundwater scientific studies reveal what Peoples living in and around the Grand Canyon know:  that the high interconnectivity of the groundwater systems makes uranium mining not only risky, but extremely risky.  https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/blog/uranium-mining-near-grand-canyon-too-risky-research-shows and https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/blog/flooding-uranium-mine-near-grand-canyon-tops-66-million-gallons

To learn more, watch the June 27, 2024 Uranium and the Grand Canyon  panel conversation with a tribal leader, a health professional, an activist, and a former uranium miner.  https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-iba-3&ei=UTF-8&hsimp=yhs-3&hspart=iba&p=kjzz+news&type=teff_10019_FFW_ZZ#id=3&vid=9775763ef083421924a855a8b7311be1&action=view

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren provided an opening message. https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-iba-3&ei=UTF-8&hsimp=yhs-3&hspart=iba&p=kjzz+news&type=teff_10019_FFW_ZZ#id=2&vid=9d88817057e55e3bb6c9803bc3b59c88&action=click

Gabriel Pietrorazio, of KJZZ News, hosted the event.  He is a national award-winning tribal natural resources reporter.  Pietrorazio’s most recent article about these issues:  https://www.kjzz.org/news/2024-06-27/inside-pinyon-plain-mine-the-grand-canyon-uranium-dispute-from-two-points-of-view

Take action by going to the Grand Canyon Trust website to sign the petition to close and clean up the Canyon Mine, which was recently renamed the Pinyon Plains Uranium Mine.  https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/take-action

  1. Friday, June 28th at noon – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the four corners of Alameda and Sandoval in downtown Santa Fe with Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, Loretto Community, New Mexico Peace Fest, Pax Christi and others.



  1. Monday, July 1, 2024 from 10 am to 11:30 am Mountain Time – Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction webinar, Understanding the New Nuclear Arms Race: Views from Washington, Moscow and Beijing.  The webinar delves into the multifaceted dimensions of the contemporary nuclear arms race, offering in-depth analyses from three of the world’s nuclear powers, their motivations, defense policies and diplomatic postures providing the audience with a comprehensive understanding of each nation’s policies and perspective.  Speakers include:  Sharon Weiner, Associate Professor, American University; Dr. Timur Kadyshev, Senior Researcher, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy; Dr. Tong Zhao, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Dr. Zia Mian (moderator), Princeton Program on Science and Global Security.

Registration:  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_tTNNZNszTdeq0VU_NRVzgQ?emci=724d8fdb-e42c-ef11-86d2-6045bdd9e096&emdi=c6795da1-e52c-ef11-86d2-6045bdd9e096&ceid=9313915#/registration



  1. Saturday, July 13th from 7 am to 4 pm Red Water Pond Road Community – Church Rock Uranium Spill Commemoration – 12 miles north of Red Rock State Park on Highway 566 from Church Rock, NM. Bring your own chairs and tents/umbrellas.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided.  All day:  silent auction, kid’s corner, and educational booths.  Free t-shirt for first 150 people at event.  24 Commemoration flier



  1. Sunday, July 14th at 2 pm –Interfaith Vigil Marking the Anniversary of the Trinity Nuclear Detonation – Impacted Communities and Religious Leaders Call for Nuclear Abolition at St. John XXIII Catholic Church, 4831 Tramway Ridge Drive NE, Albuquerque. It is a free event featuring music, speakers, exhibitions and moments of reflection and prayer.  Pre-registration is encouraged at jotform.com/241400030658141.  The event will be livestreamed.  For more information, call the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Office of Social Justice at 505 831-8205.  https://files.ecatholic.com/17613/documents/2024/6/240612_PR_TrinityCommemoration.pdf?t=1718216433000



  1. Thursday, July 18th 5 to 7 pm – KAFB Bulk Fuels Facility Project – KAFB Groundwater Treatment System facility open house and site tours of the facility.   For additional information on this event, please contact 377th Air Base Wing/Public Affairs at (505) 846-5991 or by email – pa@us.af.mil.

Also, community members may review Air Force Environmental Restoration Program documents by visiting the Kirtland AFB website at https://www.kirtland.af.mil/Home/Environment/ or the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center Administrative Record website at http://afcec.publicadmin-record.us.afmil/Search.aspx.



  1. Save the Date! Monday, July 22nd  – DOE HQ event with Candice Robertson, Environmental Management (EM-1), and Jill Hruby, NNSA Administrator, similar to April 4th, 2023 event at Santa Fe Community Convention Center.  We’ll post information as we receive it.



  1. Monday, August 5th through Friday, August 9thNM Water Quality Control Commission public hearing about reuse of fracking “produced water” waste continues. https://www.defendnmwater.org/



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