Biggest Threat to the Grand Canyon    | Home |

Few, if any, would deny that the Grand Canyon [A] is one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. Every year, its overwhelming and awe-inspiring panoramas captivate nearly five million visitors from around the world.

click on picture to view a larger image But like numerous other natural wonders in the world, the Grand Canyon National Park is threatened by air pollution and poor air quality. It is so serious that  the U.S. National Park Service maintains a special web page devoted entirely to reporting the daily air quality in the Grand Canyon with special emphasis on visibility, ground ozone levels and weather data.

The air pollution and air quality in the Grand Canyon region often adversely affect not only the ability of visitors to view this incredible landscape but can be harmful to health on those days when ground ozone levels are elevated. This pollution and ozone are in large part a direct result of burning fossil fuels. The equation is basic:

air pollutants + nitrogen + sunlight = ozone.[1]

These pollutants not only come from the usual culprits (aircraft, cars, trucks, trains, buses and other fossil fuel users) but also from the over 10,000 coal, petroleum and gas fueled electric power plants in the United States. Many man made pollutants, as well as the ozone itself, are blown to the Grand Canyon by prevailing winds, often from hundreds of miles away. But this, of course, does not take into account pollution that is produced locally from the presence and transportation of almost five million visitors per year into and out of the Grand Canyon National Park.

While the U.S. National Park Service points out that air pollution and poor air quality are threats to the park,  nowhere does it mention the naturally occurring uranium leaching in the park.  Nor does it list uranium mining OUTSIDE the park as a threat.

In an extraordinary twist of irony, the vast uranium deposits in Northern Arizona OUTSIDE the Grand Canyon National Park could (by providing the fuel for non polluting, non carbon emitting nuclear power plants) greatly alleviate the biggest problem the Grand Canyon faces today and in the future air pollution, poor air quality and elevated ozone levels.

Although uranium mining is not listed as a major concern by the Park Service, anti-uranium mining groups continue to insist that the hazards of mining these high grade uranium deposits OUTSIDE the Grand Canyon National Park is a much greater problem for the park in spite of mountains of documentation to the contrary. This misinformation is confusing to those not familiar with the park itself nor the thirty years of environmentally sensitive uranium mining which has occurred OUTSIDE the Grand Canyon National Park.

The U.S. National Park Service is FAR MORE CAPABLE of discerning the dangers facing the Grand Canyon National Park than ANY OTHER GROUP. They are, after all, the agency DIRECTLY responsible for protecting the park for visitors today and for future generations.

[A] The Grand Canyon National Park encompasses over 1,904 square miles and is administered by the U. S. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. With its awe-inspiring and beautifully raw landscape, the Grand Canyon captivates people by its enormous size and scope: 277 river miles long and up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep in places.
[1] Ozone is a colorless gas that exists naturally in the Earth's upper atmosphere where it helps shield the Earth from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. When ozone is present at or near the Earth's surface, it is referred to as ground ozone. Ground ozone is a harmful air pollutant because repeated exposure can damage lung tissue, exacerbate already existing respiratory diseases and make many people more susceptible to respiratory infections. Ground ozone is formed by a reaction between both certain naturally occurring chemicals, man made pollutants, nitrogen and sunlight. Source: condensed from Wikipedia and numerous other readily available Internet sources.
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