23 September 2010 Last updated at 22:12 ET
Comments: What kind of quote is this from a so call scientist: "Theoretically uranium could get into the water supply," said Andrea Alpine, senior adviser on the USGS uranium project.NOW look at this: "Company Description: The USGS serves the nation by providing
reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth" Ms Alpine's statement is not a so call reliable scientific information but Ms. Alpine uranium is getting in the water supply from mining, check the facts!
But with the increase in uranium exploration come concerns about the future
of the Grand Canyon, a Unesco World
Heritage Site and one of America's foremost natural wonders.
And Native American populations living near uranium mines fear exploration
could contaminate their drinking water.
For now, the sole active uranium mine near the Grand Canyon's northern rim is
run by Denison Mines Corporation, a Canadian firm.
On a recent trip into the mine, none of the miners wore masks, and their
hands and face were caked with uranium ore.
"It washes off," miner Cody Behuden, 28, told the BBC while licking his
US operations Harold Roberts said the miners were under no
danger from ingesting uranium.
Dr Lee Grier, a biologist at University of California at Riverside, said
exposure to uranium can be harmful, and the Navajo Native American reservation
nearby is still is grappling with contamination from previous uranium mining and
milling done by other companies. Those companies now no longer exist.
"The danger with long term exposure is that people breathe it, ingest it or
it seeps through the skin," he said.
"These particles start bombarding tissues and cause wild uncontrolled cell
growth like cancer."
After the ore is hauled from the mine, Denison Mines ships it north to a mill
in the US state of Utah where the uranium is extracted by dissolving the ore in
acid. The resulting product, called yellow cake, is then used in nuclear fuel
The waste from the milling process is 80% more
radioactive than yellow cake and has a half-life of 4.7 billion years. Thousands
of tonnes of waste are buried in containers lined with 60mm (2.4in) of
The Colorado River supplies drinking water to some 30 million people from Los
Angeles to Las Vegas.
"Theoretically uranium could get into the water supply," said Andrea Alpine,
senior adviser on the USGS uranium project.
Geologist Jim Otton, who contributed to the survey, said mining results in
When uranium comes into contact with oxygen it becomes soluble in water,
which increases the chance of contamination. Radioactive dust can also be blown
away by the wind or washed away by rain.
This is what Carletta Tilousi of the Havasupai Indian tribe fears most. The
Havasupai live on the bottom of the Grand Canyon and derive water from the rim.
"Mining companies are pursuing uranium for their own profit," she said.
"But the only benefit that we are going to get is a source of contamination.
We are concerned about the future of our children, that's why we fight