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Flagstaff Council Votes to Support Uranium Mining Ban

December 10, 2010

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Flagstaff has joined five Arizona tribes in opposition to uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park. The city council has voted 6-1 to support a 20-year moratorium on new mines proposed by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Arizona Wildlife Federation president Tom Mackin spoke to the council before the vote. He says with the recent spike in price for uranium, literally thousands of new mining claims have been filed near the Grand Canyon over the past two years.

However, the public lands near the canyon have been valued for generations by hunters and other visitors, Macklin says, and should be protected for future generations.

"There are places that have been set aside, that have been cherished, that have been long established as a site for Americans and visitors to enjoy without having to do that in an industrial setting."

Mining leads to road construction, noisy truck traffic and pollution, including possible contamination of surface and groundwater from ore spillage and tailings, Mackin says. He points out that wildlife habitat must have several things to maintain a sustainable population, all of which can be disrupted or destroyed by mining: "space, resting areas, water, feed and the ability to travel between these areas somewhat unimpeded."

Uranium is used mostly for nuclear power and weapons. Mackin says most of the new mining claims near the Grand Canyon have been filed by international companies, and denies that the proposed mining ban will result in any shortages for power production or military uses.

"There are other deposits in the United States. Many of them are here in the West, but there are other states where uranium is being mined, too. Canada even has uranium deposits."

Mackin hopes the mining ban will eventually be extended or even made permanent. Coconino County and Arizona Game and Fish have also voiced support for the mining moratorium.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ