Mining industry celebrates after the EPA withdraws proposed safeguards on uranium

Credit: Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

During the Obama administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule that would have, for the first time, substantially addressed the environmental and public health risks of "in-situ leach" uranium mining—an extraction method that involves pumping a solution deep underground to remove uranium and other heavy metals but that poses a significant risk to scarce sources of groundwater in the American West. On Friday, the Trump administration threw it out by deciding not to finalize the rule, years in the making. Industry execs (and their cronies in Congress) applauded the move, claiming the EPA has never found water contamination that would've been addressed by the rule anyway. But NRDC attorney Geoffrey Fettus begs to differ: "They don't do the monitoring where they would find the groundwater contamination," he explained, adding that the mining area is "profoundly contaminated…and yet there is very little requirement to restore or even monitor." You don't find what you don't look for.

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