/ Modified apr 9, 2015 5:36 a.m.

Environmental Groups Fight Grand Canyon Uranium Mine

Site south of national park gets judge's approval under 1872 federal mining law.

abandoned-uranium-mine_617x347 Cleanup work at an abandoned uranium mine site on the Navajo Nation
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

By Laurel Morales, Fronteras Desk

Environmental groups say they plan to appeal a federal judge’s decision that would allow a uranium mine south of Grand Canyon National Park.

In 2012, the Obama Administration passed a 20-year ban on new mining claims on more than a million acres surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.

Environmental groups recently sued the Forest Service, saying it violated federal law by allowing the Canyon Mine, an old mine, to reopen without going through a new environmental permitting process.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell rejected those claims and said the old mining right is valid under the 1872 mining law.

The Grand Canyon Trust’s Roger Clark pointed to studies that found contamination in 15 wells and springs near Grand Canyon.

“All of this information is since the 1986 decision by the Forest Service to allow Canyon Mine to mine without any kind of groundwater monitoring,” Campbell said.

Energy Fuels plans to open Canyon Mine this spring. The price of uranium has increased to $39 a pound after dropping to a multi-year low.

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