Concerns expressed about in situ uranium mining

Jun 6, 2012

With uranium mining making a comeback across the country and especially Wyoming, a recent government report recommends that better coordination between federal agencies is needed for financial assurances  and that agencies need to update databases to find out how many abandoned mines actually exist in the U.S.

Government Accountability Office and environmental director, Anu Mittal  says in situ mining - a process where operators inject chemicals and water underground to pump uranium back to the surface for processing, may also pose future problems.

"The in situ process is a relatively newer technique that is gaining in popularity because it has less surface disturbance. But the problem with the in situ process is that there’s a lot of issues related to groundwater contamination, or potential groundwater contamination, and the remediation and reclamation that comes with groundwater contamination."

The G-A-O report focused on uranium mining on federal lands, and looked at the Smith Ranch and Highland operations here in Wyoming as case studies. Mittal says as a result of the federal study, agencies should coordinate more closely to make sure adequate financial services are obtained from operators for future remediation.