ADEQ Says No Mismanagement in Canyon Mine Water Disposal

Mar 28, 2017

Water tested at a mine near the south rim of the Grand Canyon shows three times the uranium content allowed under federal drinking water standards. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality says the mine’s owner is disposing of it.

Equipment at the Canyon Mine near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It recently accumulated a large amount of water after an unusually wet winter. The water's uranium content is three times what is allowed under federal drinking water standards.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

ADEQ inspectors found no evidence of mismanagement on the part of the owner, Energy Fuels Resources. The water collected in the Canyon Mine during the winter. The company says it’s not unusual for water to accumulate in mine shafts, but the season was a particularly wet.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Haul No! claim mist from evaporation machines is crossing the Canyon Mine fence line and drifting into the Kaibab National Forest. Forest officials deny the allegation.
Credit Klee Benally

The company is pumping it into on-site ponds, trucking more than a 130 shipments through the Navajo Nation to a treatment facility in Utah, and using misting machines to speed up evaporation.

However, environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Haul No!, say they’ve observed the mist drifting into the Kaibab National Forest. They worry it could contaminate plant and animal life.

The Canyon Mine isn’t yet operational, but the company could begin extracting uranium ore in June.