Uranium mining is one of the top things Bill is asked to talk about when he makes appearances. There are at least 8,600 mostly uranium mining claims in Arizona on federal land within the Colorado River watershed. Currently, these lands are under a mining moratorium. However, our current administration, is trying to lift this moratorium.
The mine inspector does not develop policy, the office only enforces it. The mine inspector cannot stop uranium mining from occurring. However, it is also the mine inspector’s duty to inform the public of potential safety hazards from mining, and Bill’s obligation as a Radiation Safety Officer to do so, by law.
Uranium is water soluble and has a half-life hundreds of millions of years. Mining this mineral in the watershed that supplies drinking water for up to 40 million people opens up the potential of an environmental disaster that would impact all life downstream from the Grand Canyon and the water supply for Phoenix, Tucson, and nearly all Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico. It is unsurprising that 3 out of 4 Arizonans oppose any mining in the Grand Canyon area..
Much of the groundwater on the Navajo Nation has been contaminated due to mines that were operated out of compliance in the past. Residents of the Navajo Nation have to truck water in from hundreds of miles away in order to drink, shower, and wash.
We hear about how Flint Michigan has been without clean water since 2014. The Navajo Nation will be without clean water for millions of years due to its drinking water contamination from uranium mining. Yet this may be the first time you are hearing about this crisis happening in our own state.
Unfortunately, there is little we can do to clean up drinking water once it has been contaminated by water-soluble uranium. With the potential of renewed uranium mining in the Colorado River watershed, it is of utmost importance that these mines operate in full compliance at all times.
Uranium mining is also extremely dangerous for miners. Those who work in uranium mines have a much higher death rate from lung cancer than even regular smokers. Their families and others who live around uranium mines suffer from debilitating birth defects and other medical issues.
Bill feels it is his duty to encourage all Arizonans to contact their Federal lawmakers and ask that the ban on uranium mining be upheld, and that existing mining safety regulations are kept in place. If the moratorium is ended, it is of utmost importance that a strong mine inspector be in place to ensure mining follows all safety standards to protect these fragile lands and waters.
Paid for by Pierce for Mine Inspector, Authorized by William "Bill" Pierce