The Havasupai Tribe, along with several environmental groups, has appealed a court ruling that would allow a long-contested uranium mine to go forward near the Grand Canyon.
The ruling was handed down last month on a case filed by the Havasupai and its allies in March 2013 calling for tribal consultation and a new environmental impact assessment. The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and Grand Canyon Trust had joined the tribe in challenging a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to allow Energy Fuels Inc. to reopen the mine, which is six miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and just four miles from the Red Butte designated traditional cultural site.
About 200 tons of uranium would be extracted from the mine daily during its three- to five-year lifespan, according to the Phoenix New Times.
Much concern has been raised about the mine’s potential effects on groundwater—damage that would be irreversible—as well as the threat it could pose to tribal sacred sites. In addition to the Havasupai Tribe, the land that the ore lies under includes sites sacred to the Hualapai, Kaibab Paiute, Zuni, Hopi and Navajo tribes.
“Canyon Mine threatens tribal cultural values, wildlife and endangered species, and has the potential to contaminate the aquifers and streams that sustain the Grand Canyon and Colorado River with toxic uranium-mining waste,” said the Center for Biological Diversity in a statement announcing the appeal.
But the company is “extremely confident that there will be no impact on ground water,” Energy Fuels spokesperson Curtis Moore told the Phoenix New Times.