Friday, July 22, 2011
Uranium in the Colorado River
The debate over uranium mining in northern Arizona continues to focus on fears of uranium entering the Colorado River. The Las Vegas Sun today editorialized, "Republicans should quit trying to roll back uranium mining moratorium."
"Republicans in Congress should quit trying to repeal the moratorium and should instead work to protect the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. It makes no sense to put millions of people’s drinking water at risk." The presumption seems to be that the river is uranium-free now.
However, a U.S. Geological Survey report issued in 2010, provided data showing that the river carries an average of 120,000 lbs (a range of 40-80 tons) of uranium down the Grand Canyon every year. The uranium is apparently eroded from normal crustal concentrations over the large drainage area of the Colorado River basin.
Do water managers fear that millions of people's drinking water is currently at risk from the tons of uranium being carried naturally by the Colorado River?
Ref: Hydrological, Geological, and Biological Site Characterization of Breccia Pipe Uranium Deposits in Northern Arizona, Edited by Andrea E. Alpine, USGS SIR 2010-5025
at 8:42 PM