Susan Gordon, coordinator for MASE
GRANTS, N.M.— On May 1, the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division will hold a public hearing on whether the Mt. Taylor uranium mine can remain on standby status and continue to pollute the surrounding environment. The hearing is open to the public and people will be given an opportunity to give comments.
The Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) – a network of groups located in the Grants Mining Belt of New Mexico – will present testimony on living with the impacts of toxic pollution from the Mt. Taylor Mine. MASE will also present testimony on the failure of the mine’s owner, Rio Grande Resources (RGR), to conduct interim reclamation at the mine site and the company’s unreasonable predictions of economic viability of the mine in the face of a continued depressed uranium market.
“Mt. Taylor is a zombie mine,” says Susan Gordon, coordinator for MASE. “It’s neither producing uranium nor is it cleaning up its existing mess – it’s simply festering. It hasn’t operated in 25 years and pretending that it will operate in the future just prevents real cleanup in our communities. It is time for the Mining and Minerals Division to require reclamation of all uranium mine sites in New Mexico.”
A subsidiary of General Atomics, RGR’s Mt. Taylor Mine has not produced an ounce of uranium since 1990. Since then the operator has repeatedly received standby permits which allows the mine to sit idle. The mine was productive for a total of eight years but since it stopped producing, the toxic waste piles and infrastructure have been left idle and exposed.
“In order to continue standby status, RGR must show the mine will be economically viable during the standby period,” says Eric Jantz, staff attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. “But every credible source indicates that current uranium production will satisfy any demand for years to come. This mine will not produce uranium anytime soon. RGR should start creating high paying jobs by starting reclamation right now.”
Previously, the Mining and Minerals Division approved a standby permit despite documented groundwater contamination at the mine and no prospects for renewed production.
WHEN: 10:00 AM, Friday, May 1, 2015
WHERE: Cibola County Convention Center, 515 West High Street, Grants, NM 87505 (map)