Nuclear Power's Other Tragedy: Stories from the Frontlines of Uranium Mining


June 23, 2011

Report Documents Lax Standards, Safety Violations, Inadequate Cleanup

WASHINGTON, June 23 -- The past and future of uranium mining threaten communities across America, which an antiquated federal law fails to protect from the hazards of abandoned mines, toxic waste dumps and contaminated water, according to a new report from Earthworks.

The recent decision by the Obama administration to advocate for the withdrawal from mining of one million acres around the Grand Canyon demonstrates the serious threat that uranium mining poses to water resources.

"The 1872 Mining Law does not even require uranium miners -- unlike all other extractive industries such as coal, oil and natural gas -- to pay royalties to taxpayers that could be used to clean up radioactive contaminated sites, says the report, Nuclear Power's Other Tragedy: Communities Living with Uranium Mining.

"It is long past time that regulation of uranium mining is brought into the 21st Century," said Lauren Pagel, policy director of Earthworks, an international mining reform organization. "This outdated federal statute allows uranium mining companies, who are often foreign multinationals, to take minerals from public lands for free while polluting our country's irreplaceable natural resources."

The report pulls together alarming data on the lax standards and high number of safety violations at all active uranium mines and cleanup sites in the United States. Some of the more startling examples:

But the report also tells the stories behind the numbers, with case studies of Native and Anglo-American communities that are struggling with uranium mining's legacy and concerned for the future. The report spotlights people working to help those affected by uranium mining's legacy, and to prevent future tragedies. They include:

The report calls for removing uranium from the jurisdiction of the antiquated 1872 Mining Law which allows mining companies to extract uranium from public lands without paying royalties. The Uranium Resources Stewardship Act, introduced by Reps. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, would institute royalties, a competitive leasing program, and give federal land managers more say over whether mining should be allowed in sensitive areas.

-- ENDS --

For more information:

Nuclear Power's Other Tragedy: Communities Living With Uranium Mining


Lauren Pagel, Policy Director, 202-887-1872 x107

Tagged with: uranium, nuclear power, grand canyon, 1872 mining law

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