O’Halleran Responds to Mohave County Vote to Expand Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon

February 27, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, following reports that the Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted in support of expanded uranium mining on lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) released the following statement:  

“I am extremely displeased to see this vote in Mohave County. Expanding uranium mine operations on lands near the Grand Canyon puts more than just the natural beauty and cultural significance of the area at risk—it threatens the health of Arizonans, our water supply, and our state’s tourism economy.

“Cancer diagnoses among families living on the nearby Navajo Nation are extremely high when compared to the national average, and studies have shown that this is a direct result of uranium exposure in the area, dating all the way back to the Cold War. Additionally, forty million people rely on the Colorado River and local aquifers for their water supply. Uranium mining contamination in the area has the power to pollute this water source beyond repair.

“Mohave County Supervisors have cited economic viability of the region as their reasoning behind this vote. Yearly, the Grand Canyon brings in over six million tourists to rural Arizona. These visitors spend billions of dollars in our local economy and support tens of thousands of jobs across the region. Potential uranium mining contamination of surrounding lands put our state’s tourism industry at risk of collapse.

“We must ensure that this sacred land is protected for the groups that call it home and all who know it as a spiritual place. I will continue fighting to protect our Canyon from the toxic legacy of uranium mining.”

According to KNAU, District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson himself acknowledged that “current market prices are too low for new uranium mines in the area to be profitable.” Additionally, according to federal data, both New Mexico and Wyoming have three times the amount of uranium reserves as Arizona, Colorado, and Utah, combined. Uranium imports to the United States are lower than they have been in fifteen years, and Canada is our largest supplier.

In October 2019, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act, legislation O’Halleran helped introduce that would permanently ban uranium mining in and near the Grand Canyon.

O’Halleran has also introduced legislation to expand compensation for individuals exposed to radiation while working in and living near uranium mines or downwind from nuclear weapon test sites, and a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Environmental Protection Agency must do more to clean up and remediate toxic, abandoned sites on the Navajo Nation.

In the 115th Congress, the House approved an O’Halleran-led initiative to secure $1 million funding to clean up abandoned uranium mine sites.

Yesterday, Arizonans celebrated the 101st anniversary of the Grand Canyon’s designation as a National Park.