Dear AZ Department of Environmental Quality Members
I am writing to urge the department to NOT renew air quality permits for uranium mining in the Kaibab National Forest.
AZ has a long history of contamination from uranium mining, culminating most recently in December 2015 when radioactivity four times ordinary levels were detected around Pinenut.
As I’m sure you are aware, a single alpha particle emitted by an inhaled atom of uranium can cause lung cancer.
Moreover, new research suggests that uranium’s risks derive as much from the element’s chemical toxicity as from its radioactive decay. Uranium can bind with DNA before chemically severing it.
Freed from the mineral matrix, uranium is essentially genotoxic in very tiny amounts.
Uranium mining in the Kaibab National Forest threatens the atmosphere and the water supply since the mines are located in watershed areas.
Uranium in drinking water is a growing national problem. Uranium mining has the proven effect of exacerbating uranium levels in drinking water, as the Navajos’ plight has demonstrated.
The Colorado River already suffers from uranium contamination in the Grand Canyon area (see the US Geological Survey Study Hydrological, Geological, and Biological Site Characterization of Breccia Pipe Uranium Deposits in Northern Arizona (edited by Andrea E. Alpine) http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5025/).
The state and federal government have poor records of mitigating environmental contamination by uranium. Decades and decades have passed after uranium mining in Arizona poisoned the Navajos and yet those mines still threaten human health.
Uranium is over-produced and current market prices are very low by historical standards. There is no strong economic argument for more uranium mining. There is no shortage of national and international supplies.
I strongly recommend that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality NOT issue air quality permits that will allow more uranium mining, and uranium contamination, in the Kaibab National Forest.
Continued uranium mining threatens vital natural resources and human health.