Uranium mining is blamed for a host of illnesses and other impacts. Photo: Leana Hosea
Shocking legacy of 'uranium poisonings' haunts Obama's looming mining decision
2nd November, 2010
Despite disturbing claims about the impact of uranium, ten-thousand proposals for exploration in the Grand Canyon area have been submitted. A key fuel for nuclear power, the US must now decide between full scale uranium mining, partial mining or a twenty year moratorium. Leana Hosia investigates
Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon it's easy to see why it's is called the crown jewels of the United States and a wonder of the world. Millions visit each year, generating some $600 million in tourism revenue. But a new wealth has been discovered here: America’s largest concentrations of high grade uranium - the fuel for nuclear power. In his energy policy President Barack Obama said 'it is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option.'
Last year ten-thousand claims for exploration in the Grand Canyon area were submitted and the government decides next year between full scale mining, partial mining or a twenty year moratorium.
Mineral interest is not new to Arizona. The Spanish came in the 1500s looking for the legendary cities of gold, but found only the mud-walled homes of the indigenous people. Then in the 1800s rush Jake Snively struck gold in Arizona. Geologist Jim Rasmussen works for the uranium industry: 'I fill the niche of the old prospector with the mule, the gold pan and the hammer wandering around the desert. The difference is I drive a pick up and have more technical tools.'
On the plateau...
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