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Groups Urge Denial of Permit Renewal for Uranium Mines Near Grand Canyon

Joshua Lott/Reuters

Environmental groups say three mines near Grand Canyon National Park pose a significant threat to public health and the canyon’s ecology. The groups want state officials to deny the mines’ air-pollution permits, which are up for renewal. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports. 

The groups including the Grand Canyon Trust worry radioactive dust from the Canyon, EZ and Pinenut mines could spread to Flagstaff and nearby tribal communities. They say the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality hasn’t properly reviewed the effects of the mines’ air pollution. And along with tribal leaders, they say contamination from the mining process could taint the Grand Canyon’s watershed.

A spokesperson for ADEQ says the mines have good air-pollution compliance records, and some environmental regulations at the sites will become stricter. The public comment period for the mines’ permits is open until Jan. 4. ADEQ says it’ll address every comment it receives before considering the renewals, and plans to hold public meetings in Tuba City and Flagstaff early next year.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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