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February 18, 2010
Andrea Alpine (928) 556-7094 or (650) 245-2400 aealpine@usgs.gov
Lara Schmit (928) 556-7327 or (928) 814-9688 lschmit@usgs.gov

USGS report details uranium resources and potential effects of uranium mining near Grand Canyon

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Flagstaff, Ariz. — As part of the Department of the Interior’s evaluation of whether to segregate nearly 1 million acres of federal lands near the Grand Canyon from new uranium claims, the United States Geological Survey today released a report on uranium resources and uranium mining impacts in the area.

The studies contained in the report looked at uranium found in breccia pipe deposits and explored the geological, hydrological, and biological issues related to uranium mining on Federal lands near the park.

“The current two year time-out on new uranium mining claims gives us an opportunity to gather the best science and input from the public, Congress, stakeholders, and Tribes on whether to withdraw lands near the Grand Canyon from new mining claims for a longer period of time,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.  “The USGS’s report and ongoing research will be helpful to a thoughtful consideration of how to best manage these areas.” 

On July 21, 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced a decision to segregate nearly 1 million acres of federal lands in the Arizona Strip for two years while the Department evaluates whether to withdraw these lands from new mining claims for an additional 20 years.  The lands, managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, are within portions of the Grand Canyon watershed and contain significant environmental and cultural resources as well as substantial uranium deposits.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists were tasked to conduct a series of short-term studies on the possible effects of uranium mining on the region’s natural resources.

The report’s key findings follow:

“The research efforts undertaken by the U.S. Geological Survey will help decision makers better understand how uranium and uranium mining influence the water, soil, and wildlife of the lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park,” said Andrea Alpine, Director of the USGS Southwest Biological Science Center.

A USGS report evaluating uranium resources and summarizing findings about the possible effects of uranium mining in northern Arizona is available online


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