Group to sue mill over radioactive output

An environmental organization said it plans to sue Energy Fuels Inc., saying that the company’s uranium mill in Blanding, Utah, has violated the Clean Air Act with radioactive emissions.

The Grand Canyon Trust on Wednesday mailed notice to Denver-based Energy Fuels that it intended to sue in federal court.

Energy Fuels officials noted that no governmental action actions have been taken against the company.

“The issues raised by this group are either inaccurate, have been addressed, or are being addressed as part of the normal regulatory processes,” said Curtis Moore, Energy Fuels director of investor and public relations. “Both Energy Fuels and the regulators are well aware of these matters, none of which has resulted in a violation.”

Energy Fuels has 60 days from the postmark to respond to the notice.

The company told the Utah Division of Air Quality that emissions had exceeded standards, Anne Mariah Tapp of the Grand Canyon Trust said. In addition to the air-quality issues, the notice said that the mill operated six tailings impoundments even though only two are allowed. Two of the impoundments are larger than the maximum allowed size of 40 acres, the trust said.

The notice “opens the door for the company to fix the problems,” Tapp said. Whether the trust files suit “really is going to depend on their willingness to address the problems they created.”

Energy Fuels is operating the mill and plans to place it on standby in mid-2014, but the company still will fulfill contract and delivery requirements, Moore said. It also will receive materials for later processing and perform all required environmental and permit compliance activities, he said.

The trust cited emissions of radon 222 from the mill, noting that it is associated with cancer, genetic defects and increased mortality.

Radon 222 is the most stable isotope of radon, which is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that occurs as the result of the decay of uranium and thorium.

Company officials have said they planned to close the mill, the last one built in the United States, this year and reopen it next year, the trust said, noting that would give it an opportunity to address the air-quality and other issues.

Energy Fuels officials have said they are awaiting a turn in uranium-market conditions to begin construction of a uranium mill near Naturita.


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