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May 4th, 2010
Grijalva Calls for Scrutiny as EPA Finds Northern Arizona Uranium Mine Violated Air Quality Permitting Rules

Note: The original version of this release said the distance from the mine to the Grand Canyon is 70 miles, although the actual distance is closer to seven miles. This version reflects that change.

Washington, D.C. – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier today announced that the Arizona 1 uranium mine in northern Arizona has violated multiple air quality and permitting regulations. Despite operating the mine since late last year, Denison Mines Corp. never obtained proper air monitoring permits and failed to inform the agency of the mine’s start date, according to the agency’s new Finding of Violation.

Arizona 1 was dormant for nearly two decades before reopening in late 2009. The mine has been monitoring its radon emissions without agency approval for its methods, according to the EPA complaint.

The EPA lists a total of five “findings of failure” at the site. It faults Denison for proceeding with mining operations on the basis of a permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality despite the state’s lack of authority over EPA’s National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants program.

“This is yet another example of why mining claims need to be viewed with extreme caution,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, who chairs the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. “When companies feel free to flout environmental regulations near our country’s most extraordinary and popular natural landscapes, something has gone seriously wrong.”

The mine is approximately 7 miles north of the Grand Canyon. Grijalva is the sponsor of HR 644, a bill that would remove 1.1 million acres surrounding the canyon from future mining claims.

“Tourists will not visit any scenic area, even the Grand Canyon, if they know there’s a serious risk of radon violations,” Grijalva said. “I thank EPA investigators for giving this matter prompt attention, and I intend to follow the matter closely.”

Depending on the company’s response and EPA’s determination of the severity of the violations, the agency could fine the company up to $37,500 per day of violation.

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