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Judge Dismisses 2014 Claims Against White Mesa Uranium Mill

Austin Cope

A federal judge has dismissed all claims made by an environmental group against the White Mesa uranium mill near Blanding, Utah. The mill, which sits five miles from the White Mesa portion of the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation, is the nation’s only currently operating conventional uranium mill. The Grand Canyon Trust filed suit in 2014 against the facility’s owner, Energy Fuels, because one of the mill’s tailings cells had been emitting radon above federal standards. The mill had itself reported the violations and taken action to contain the emissions. But the Grand Canyon Trust sued to force the mill to speed up the tailings cell’s closure. The Trust provided statements from four of its members, two members of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the other two from nearby Bluff, Utah. They said they had curtailed their outside activities near the mill because of concern about radon exposure. But in September, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled the emissions standards that the mill had exceeded did not apply to that particular cell because it was no longer in operation and the standards were for active cells.

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