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Washington, D.C. — As the Nation debates our energy future and the role of nuclear power in meeting our energy needs, uranium experts and people from communities impacted by uranium are arriving in Washington DC on May 10th to educate Members of Congress and the Obama Administration about the impact of uranium development on their communities.  Citizens from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming are telling our government that we cannot ignore the adverse effect that nuclear power as a fuel source has on public health, water supplies and the environment in areas where uranium is extracted.  

Currently, uranium mining is governed by a patchwork of federal and state laws, including partial regulation under the 1872 Mining Law, an archaic statute that considers mining to be the highest and best use of the federal land.  In these modern times, demands for nuclear fuel need to be balanced with other values from our federal lands, and reforms in our Nation’s mineral policy are long overdue.

Uranium mining and exploration is on the rise, fueled by speculation about the demand for the mineral associated with nuclear energy production.  There are over 60 uranium mines currently permitted, and at least another 26 somewhere in the permitting stage. Uranium mines have now opened next to Grand Canyon National Park.  Exploration for new uranium sources is occurring along the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to millions of Americans, and in Native communities and near rural towns across the country. 

Uranium mines pose many of the threats to public health, water and the environment. Uranium is highly toxic. When mined, other radioactive decay elements such as radium and thorium are produced. Lung cancer, skin cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, kidney damage and birth defects are all linked to exposure from these radioactive elements

This month, Congress and the Administration will continue to debate a new climate and energy policy, and the role of uranium development to fuel nuclear power.  The group of experts and community members hope to encourage members of Congress and the Obama administration to consider the impacts of uranium mining when pushing for new nuclear power projects and they will advocate for new, stringent regulatory protections as well as clean up funds for communities impacted by uranium mining.

— ENDS —