State drafting new air quality permits for 4 uranium mines

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 9.58.50 AMState drafting new air quality permits for 4 uranium mines

By Emery Cowan | Arizona Daily Sun

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is still working on developing new, more environmentally protective air quality permits for three uranium mines in the Grand Canyon region.

The action comes after news broke late last year that elevated uranium levels had been measured in soils near Pinenut uranium mine, located 10 miles north of the Grand Canyon and owned by Energy Fuels Resources. In response, ADEQ decided to suspend its work on air quality permit renewals for all four uranium mines operated by Energy Fuels Resources.

ADEQ is now working to complete drafts of the new air quality permits for public review and comment. The revisions include faster execution of enhanced dust control measures if elevated uranium or radium levels are detected and extensive changes to the required soil sampling and radiation survey plan to mitigate potential impacts from high wind.

The state department will host public hearings on the new draft permits in Flagstaff, Tuba City and Fredonia, which it hopes to begin in early summer.

The department also reported that Energy Fuels Resources has ceased operations at Pinenut mine and transported all uranium ore to milling operations in Utah. The company is therefore no longer seeking to renew its air quality permit for that location. Permanent closure of the Pinenut mine is a long-term process and will require working with multiple agencies.

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