The groups – Uranium Watch, the Center for Water Advocacy, and Living Rivers – filed the action in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on July 29, challenging a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to allow the drilling of 16 exploration drill holes and two radon vent holes as part of an expansion of the Pandora Uranium Mine.
The suit says the Forest Service gave Denver-based Denison Mines Corp. (USA) approval for the drilling operations as part of an expansion of its Pandora mine complex without completing a full environmental analysis.
The groups also filed a request for a preliminary injunction at the Pandora Mine to stop ground disturbance and construction of the exploration holes and radon vent holes until the case can be fully heard by the federal court. The groups are seeking to overturn the decision to allow the drilling.
The groups say some of the radon that will be vented poses a danger to residents of La Sal and students at La Sal Elementary School.
Sarah Fields, program director for Uranium Watch, said the Pandora Mine is operating under an inadequate and outdated operations and environmental assessment plan.
“The Forest Service should not approve any expansion of the mine until there is a fully updated plan,” Fields said.
Ron Hochstein, president and CEO of Denison Mines, said he could not comment on the lawsuit because the company’s legal team is still going through the documents. Denison Mines is not named directly in the suit, and Hochstein said the company is now considering whether to become actively involved in the legal action.