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Southern Utah uranium mill takes on low-level radioactive waste from Estonia

Conservationists say White Mesa Mill in southern Utah is processing radioactive waste from Europe.

The mill is located near Bears Ears National Monument. It was built to process uranium ore and can also extract uranium from radioactive waste, a practice approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

But the Grand Canyon Trust says that if the mill accepts nuclear waste, it should be regulated as a low-level nuclear waster facility.

The trust recently learned that the mill is bringing in waste from Estonia, the first shipment of European waste that they know of. 

In the past, it has taken waste from Canada and Japan. 

"There’s really a concern that the mill not become the world’s sort of choice for radioactive materials disposal on the cheap," said Tim Peterson, a spokesman for the trust.

Members of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe have raised concerns that the mill poses a threat to its drinking water.

Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.