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Flagstaff City Council Mulls Resolution Opposing Uranium Hauling

Blake McCord/Grand Canyon Trust

Flagstaff leaders are concerned about the safety of uranium that’ll soon be hauled from a mine near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the city council is considering a resolution to oppose trucking the ore through the area.

Flagstaff officials say uranium dust could have negative public health effects as it’s transported on the region’s roads and highways. There are two proposed routes the expected 10 truckloads per day will take from the Canyon Mine to southern Utah: One using Interstate-40 near Williams, and another on forest roads north of the San Francisco Peaks.

According to city officials, however, Flagstaff has no say in the matter because the U.S. Department of Transportation regulates all uranium hauling.

Flagstaff Vice-Mayor Jamie Whelan says the resolution is mostly symbolic.

"As a local body we are preempted a lot. So that’s why we’re able to make resolutions and say, ‘You know what, we don’t like this, and we want you to change it,’" Whelan says.

Whelan wants the resolution to oppose all uranium hauling, but at the very least force the company to use sealed containers. City staff are drafting it, and the council could vote next month.

A representative with the Canyon Mine’s owner, Energy Fuels Resources, says they follow all state and federal regulations for uranium hauling, and make the shipments as safe as possible. 

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers 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 frequent contributor to NPR.
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