FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) ¿ The Hualapai Tribe has renewed a ban on uranium mining on its land near the Grand Canyon, joining other American Indian tribes in opposing what they see as a threat to their environment and their culture.
The tribal ban adds to a temporary mining ban on nearly 1 million federally owned acres around the Grand Canyon. The combined actions mean uranium-bearing lands in northern Arizona open to companies hungry to resume mining are growing scarce.
Much of the uranium in Arizona is in the northwest corner of the state with other deposits on the Navajo Nation and other tribal lands. The high-grade ore used in nuclear energy and for medicine is especially attractive at a time when prices for uranium have risen.But members of northern Arizona tribes say it's not worth putting their health, water and land at risk, particularly when contamination from past uranium mining operations hasn't been fully addressed. "Contamination emanates from mining, does not know any boundaries and it could easily cross community after community without them ever knowing," said Robert Tohe, a member of the Navajo Nation, which banned uranium on its 27,000 square-mile reservation that spans three states in 2005. "I think that's the real danger, and that's why tribes have become unified."