Uranium 'far preferable'


In response to Tanya Lee’s article on uranium exploration and mining in northern Arizona (“Grand Canyon uranium mining temporarily on hold” [Vol. 28, Iss. 13]), her otherwise well-fashioned writing evidenced three misunderstandings:

The House’s emergency resolution, if valid, does not stop exploration and mining activities on any claims that were located on the lands concerned before the resolution. Instead, (if valid) it only prevents the staking of new claims in the areas identified in the resolution for a period of three years.

The 1,100 claims Lee mentions are presumably only those claims found on the Kaibab National Forest south of the Grand Canyon – and these 1,100 claims (20.5 acres each) can continue to be explored with the goal of developing mines even during the three year period; i.e., they are not affected by the possibly valid House resolution. There are very many more than 1,100 valid and active uranium mining claims present north of the Grand Canyon, and most of these exist on lower elevation, unforested lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Secondly, the VANE Minerals drilling plan of operations on USFS lands south of the Grand Canyon was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the U.S. Department of Interior. USDA contains the U.S. Forest Service, which is the federal agency responsible for surface management of activities on Forest Service lands, including uranium exploration.

Lastly, there have been two uranium booms in the U.S. previous to the current one. The first, that which was instigated and promoted by the U.S. government and left behind some messes that are still being remediated, started during World War II and ended by the early 1960s. This boom was caused entirely by the U.S. government’s use of uranium in nuclear weapons. The second uranium boom began in the early 1970s and ended in the early 1990s – this boom began under the influence of the increasing energy prices caused by Middle Eastern oil supply problems occurring during that time, and was caused by the worldwide increase in use of nuclear energy as a domestic electrical energy source. The careful uranium industry work during that period of time in the Grand Canyon region caused no significant surface impact and was of the same exact nature as the work being done now.

Generally speaking of the controversy surrounding current uranium exploration and mining activity in northern Arizona, those people that are worried because they are, at least in their memories, still feeling the effects of the first U.S. government-sponsored uranium mining boom.

The mistakes of that careless and overexcited wartime period are no longer being made. In my opinion, careful exploration and mining for uranium, and careful use of nuclear energy for domestic purposes, are far preferable to the land and air disturbance resulting from increased (or continued) reliance on coal energy, and are far preferable to the hardships that will be imposed on people worldwide if the increasing shortage of oil energy worldwide is not compensated for by increased use of practicable alternative energy sources like nuclear energy.

Larry Turner
DIR Exploration, Inc.
Palisade, Colorado