Well, it has been a long, expensive, painful wait – about half a lifetime for many of us in southeast Utah. But on April 30, 2008, the Dennison Mill on White Mesa (six miles south of Blanding) officially began milling uranium ore. It is the first time that has happened in the United States in decades.
The fact that it is actually happening may mark a huge shift in popular opinion towards nuclear power. World conditions have changed dramatically in the last few years. Since fossil fuels have fallen from favor as the fuel for power plants, uranium and nuclear power generation may become the reincarnated “rock-star” of the energy world.
The White Mesa Mill is the only federally licensed uranium processing mill that survived the downturn. What a blessing it may be to the economy of this area.
It was definitely an upbeat atmosphere at the main office at White Mesa on April 30. The parking lot was filled and so was a vacant field east of the paved parking lot. There are 150 full time employees and 75 private contractors working on site. Mountains of grey uncrushed uranium ore are everywhere. Ore trucks arrive and dump their covered loads of ore and head back to the mines in a never-ending stream from all directions.
Press information concerning the mill operation must come from the company’s Canadian Headquarters and company officials did not respond to a request for information.
Simply beginning milling operations after such a long delay represents a monumental achievement. It may be the dawn of a new era in San Juan County.