Spiritual Walk to protest the White Mesa Mill

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Spiritual Walk to protest the White Mesa Mill

Date: 10/22/2022     State: UT     Issues: Mining, Watersheds     Partners: Grand Canyon Trust, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Greenaction, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, White Mesa Concerned Community Airport Origin : Blanding, UT    


Protest with Tribes, including the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and environmental groups to raise awareness of the White Mesa uranium mill's unsafe practices. Conduct an overflight of White Mesa Mill with affected community members, electeds, and members of the media to spread public awareness.

On October 22, around 100 people marched in opposition of the White Mesa uranium mill and its pursuit to accept radioactive waste from around the world. Members of the White Mesa Ute Mountain Ute community, multiple other Tribes, environmental groups, and concerned citizens joined together for a Spiritual Walk, marching 5 miles to the entrance of the uranium mill. The mill is located next to Bears Ears National Monument and the White Mesa Ute Mountain Ute community. The mill poses outstanding risks to the Ute Mountain Utes, poisoning their land and groundwater with toxic and radioactive waste.

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. EcoFlight conducted overflights before the Spiritual Walk to find that the Mill is still in violation of the Clean Air Act - violations that have persisted since June 2020. EcoFlight has partnered with communities and organizations working to protect the White Mesa Ute Mountain Ute community’s health, water, air, land, culture, and sacred sites from the uranium mill and the mill’s desire to expand its operations to receive toxic waste from Estonia and Japan. We originally flew over White Mesa on August 4th, 2021 and discovered the mill’s violations, and flight passengers alerted the EPA. We flew the site again in January, April, and July of 2022, and found the Mill was out of compliance each time, with significant amounts of radioactive material exposed to the atmosphere. The overflight on October 22nd showed that little had changed. The Mill’s operator begun filling the waste holding cell with water in spring 2022, and originally stated the process would take several months. Now, the operator says they will not have the waste fully covered, and in accordance with EPA regulations, until March 2023.

The EcoFlight team is so grateful for our partners' dedication and advocacy to provide justice, clean air, and safe drinking water for the White Mesa Ute Mountain Ute community. EcoFlight will continue to watchdog the White Mesa Mill and advocate for the health of the Ute Mountain Ute community and surrounding environment.

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