Canyon Uranium Mine

The Canyon Uranium Mine near Tusayan.

Once again the record needs to be set straight regarding uranium mining on what used to be multiple use national forest land near Grand Canyon National Park.

In the July 3 issue of the Daily Sun one letter writer was upset because approximately 10 acres of forest land was fenced off due to the presence of an active uranium mine that prevented her from enjoying a small sagebrush meadow. She states that there was widespread opposition from environmental advocates and Native Americans to this mine, but forgot to state that there was also widespread support from the USFS, USGS, and people who actually work for a living and understand that our modern standard of living is dependent on mining.

The fence is required by the USFS and is in part necessary to keep vandals out. In one incident, environmentalists tried cutting down numerous power poles that supply electricity to the mine site, potentially putting the miners lives in jeopardy.

There are a total of 1,542,791 acres in the Kaibab National Forest. It seems to me that there is plenty of room elsewhere in the forest for the write to recreate in beside the 10 acres currently being used for uranium mining that the writer is complaining about being deprived from using. Once mining is complete the disturbed ground will be fully reclaimed and will once again become multiple use land for all to enjoy.

I find the writer's arguments against uranium mining to be totally misguided. I too recreate extensively in and near the Grand Canyon. I have drunk the water from Horn Creek and have worked in uranium mining for over 30 years with no ill effects. I'm far more concerned about parasites and bacteria in the water than trace amounts of uranium.

 The writer states that uranium mining renders the land to be unusable to the rest of us. If that is really the case, Grand Canyon National Park should be closed down because of the presence of high grade naturally occurring uranium eroding into the park's watershed and beyond. There is no difference between mined and naturally occurring uranium except that modern uranium mines are not allowed to discharge anything into the environment, unlike Mother Nature.

The Daily  Sun asked Flagstaff City Council Candidates if they support a Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument. Most of the candidates responses showed their complete lack of knowledge on the subject, so once again I'm offering all the political candidates and anyone else an opportunity to take the uranium challenge and go see naturally occurring uranium eroding into the Grand Canyon from its very own watershed. Please contact the Daily Sun for my contact info.

Yes, uranium mining back in the 1950s and 60s was largely unregulated and did create problems, but modern technology and strict regulations have corrected the problems. Continuing to blame miners for sloppy mining practices is totally unwarranted.

The whole issue of uranium mining near the Grand Canyon needs to be revisited with a conclusion based on science, not hype, emotion and politics.

Frank Bain of Flagstaff is an NAU graduate and a registered professional geologist with over 35 years of experience in minerals exploration and mining.

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