David Kreamer, a professor of hydrology and an authority on groundwater contaminants on the College of Nevada, Las Vegas, disputed that assertion.
“I’m all for mining if it’s completed responsibly with correct safeguards,” Mr. Kreamer mentioned. However he referred to as Pinyon Plain a possible “time bomb” that might have detrimental results in a decade or so.
Mr. Kreamer mentioned he was particularly involved about drilling exercise on the mine that pierced an aquifer a number of years in the past, releasing tens of millions of gallons of water excessive in each uranium and arsenic.
To forestall the water from contaminating close by areas, Power Fuels is accumulating it in a pool on the mine, the place a few of it evaporates. The corporate has additionally trucked the water practically 250 miles to White Mesa, Utah, the place the corporate owns the nation’s solely totally licensed and working typical uranium mill. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, whose members dwell close to the White Mesa web site, referred to as final 12 months for the mill to shut.
In correspondence this 12 months with Arizona regulators, Scott Bakken, vice chairman for regulatory affairs at Power Fuels, mentioned the corporate was additionally measuring the each day quantity and conducting periodic sampling of the water pumped to the floor. Mr. Bakken added that Power Fuels would enhance the frequency of pumping to mitigate any threat to groundwater if water high quality requirements are usually not met.
The Arizona Division of Environmental High quality on Thursday gave the corporate the inexperienced mild to proceed, transferring to grant an aquifer safety allow to Power Fuels. The ruling, which is the newest stamp of regulatory steerage for the undertaking, permits the corporate to make use of engineering controls to “scale back discharge of pollution to the best diploma achievable,” the company mentioned.
However members of the Havasupai Tribe, in addition to hydrologists comparable to Mr. Kreamer, are additionally expressing concern that the uranium-heavy water launched by the aquifer, regardless of the corporate’s efforts to gather it, may jeopardize the availability of water to close by Supai Village, residence to Havasupai households, and is derived throughout the Grand Canyon itself.