SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Three conservation groups want to stop the U.S. Forest Service from allowing a private mining company to drill 16 uranium exploration holes and two 6-foot-diameter vent holes on national forest land in southeast Utah.
Uranium Watch, the Center for Water Advocacy and Living Rivers say the Forest Service gave Denison Mines Corp. permission to drill two radon vent holes and 16 exploration holes on federal public lands in the Moab/Monticello Ranger District of the Manti-La Sal National Forest.
The uranium exploration project allows Denison to not only drill for uranium, but also build or upgrade more than a mile of public roads and dig several waste pits, the groups claim in Federal Court.
The two new vent holes are part of an expansion of the Pandora Mine and will release “hazardous radon gas” into the atmosphere, the groups say.
The Forest Service allegedly approved Denison’s projects without a full environmental analysis, in violation of National Environmental Policy Act.
The groups say the government improperly excluded the vent project from federal regulations, deeming it a “special use” rather than a traditional mining operation.
“The agency thus illegally bypassed the strict permitting and environmental protection requirements of its special use regulations,” the groups claim.
They want a federal judge to vacate the Forest Service’s decision allowing Denison to drill and make vent holes without an updated environmental analysis. They say Pandora Mine is still operating under environmental studies from 1981.
They are represented by Joro Walker and Charles R. Dubuc of Western Resource Advocates.