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Havasupai Tribe sends letter to ADEQ citing concerns over uranium mine

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality recently granted an aquifer protection permit for a uranium mine located less than 10 miles from a tribal community in the Grand Canyon, but the Havasupai Tribe still has concerns about the quality of its water.

The Havasupai Tribal Council sent a letter of opposition to ADEQ Friday.

It reiterated its opposition to Pinyon Plain Mine and said the state failed to consider the best science available or the concerns of the tribe, which has opposed the mine for decades.

For much of that time, uranium prices remained low, but the war in Ukraine has helped change that, and the tribe is concerned that the mine could go into production.

"We strongly believe as a tribe that Arizona Department of Environmental Quality isn’t doing their job. They’re not protecting the environment," said Stuart Chavez, a member of the Havasupai Council.

In 2016, the mine punctured a shallow aquifer.

Since then, it has had to pump out millions of gallons of contaminated water.

Ron Dungan has lived in Arizona for more than 35 years. He has worked as a reporter, construction worker, copy editor, designer and freelance writer. He's a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the undergraduate Writers’ Workshop, and has a master’s in history from Arizona State University.Dungan was an outdoors reporter and member of the storyteller team at the Arizona Republic, where he won several awards, and was a contributor on a border project that won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting.When not working, Dungan enjoys books, gardening, hanging out with his German shorthaired pointer, backpacking and fly-fishing. He's a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and Iowa Hawkeyes.