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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 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.