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Uranium mines haven't gone away in Canyon Country

Uranium mines haven't gone away in Canyon Country

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Time for a whirl around the world of news...

We've always said that a moratorium on new uranium mines in the Grand Canyon region addressed only half the issue.

The other half are the dozen or so older mines likely to be grandfathered and reopened if uranium prices remain high.

Now, as we reported Sunday, a second mine is close to receiving Forest Service permits under a system that apparently doesn't require the mine owners to update a 26-year-old environmental impact report.

We suppose that, on paper, there's no difference in impacts if the mine will be operating exactly as proposed two decades ago. But what about new findings at other mine sites since then showing contamination of streams and groundwater in the vicinity of mines? Should the site specs and mining techniques chosen back then be the same today, knowing what we know now?

As for the state Department of Environmental Quality, it has its own permit system but does not appear able to enforce it -- DEQ says another mine north of the Canyon still needs a water runoff permit, but the mine is operating without it.

In other words, despite a moratorium that might make Grand Canyon supporters in other areas of the country feel better, those of us in northern Arizona are living with active uranium mines. We would hope they receive the oversight due an industry that has a lot to account for in the past half-century.

* * *

Admittedly, we weren't there. But 71 electric pulses from a Taser on an unarmed man -- some of them while handcuffed -- seem to cry out for a thorough review and a hard look at some alternatives.

Thankfully, that appears to be what the Coconino County Sheriff's Office is doing. Although a Taser spokesman insists that his product is still the best for a subject made uncontrollable by drugs and other conditions, we applaud the Sheriff's office for supplying deputies with enclosure blankets designed to contain a struggling suspect. Frankly, we'd go for a giant net if that's what it takes to keep from using a Taser so many times.

But we also need to note that a Taser, no matter the risk of sudden heart stoppages, still seems a better choice than a firearm when at all possible. And for that choice, we commend the officers involved in this situation.

* * *

It seems like a long time since residents downstream of the Schultz burn area have had much good news.

But the announcement Tuesday by the USGS that Cinder Lake east of Highway 89 can absorb more than enough stormwater runoff and funnel it underground without contaminating the nearby landfill is about as good as it gets.

Engineers now have a specific end point for the canals and ditches they are designing to channel monsoon storm runoff through Timberline and Fernwood. A key step is to get property owners to agree without delay to give the county the easements it needs for a continuous network, and with no compensation (or very little).

On paper, that's a government taking. But in reality, it's the right thing to do, not only for the owners but their neighbors, too.


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