International Toxic Waste Dump on Tribal Lands

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International Toxic Waste Dump on Tribal Lands

Date: 03/31/2023     State: UT     Issues: Climate, Mining, Wild Lands     Partners: Grand Canyon Trust, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Wildlands Conservancy Airport Origin : Blanding, UT    


Watchdog the White Mesa Mill, that is been out of compliance with EPA regulations for years. Partner with leaders working to protect the landscape and the White Mesa Ute Mountain Ute Community.

Right next to Bears Ears National Monument and the White Mesa Ute Mountain Ute community is the White Mesa uranium mill. The mill poses outstanding risks to the Ute Mountain Utes, poisoning their land and groundwater with toxic and radioactive waste. These problems are only intensifying. White Mesa has become a worldwide destination for radioactive waste, recently accepting 1.4 million pounds of toxic waste from Estonia.

White Mesa has been in violation of EPA regulations that require cells holding radioactive waste to be fully covered with water. The inadequate liquid coverage emits about 10 times more radon than a covered cell. We originally flew over White Mesa on August 4th, 2021 and discovered the Mill’s violations, and flight passengers alerted the EPA. The EPA later discovered these violations have persisted since June 2020. EcoFlight has continued to aerially watchdog the Mill; each time White Mesa continued to be out of compliance, with significant amounts of radioactive material exposed to the atmosphere.

On our March 31 overflight, the Mill was still out of compliance, but the cells were being covered with liquid. After pressure from our flight partners, the community, and the Ute Mountain Utes, the operator has began covering the radioactive material, but remains out of compliance with holding pit regulations.

EcoFlight and our partners will continue working to monitor the situation from the air and advocate for restorative environmental action.

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