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September 11, 2002

State law found to cover uranium mines

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- Environmentalists are applauding a court ruling that makes clear that uranium mines in New Mexico are subject to state regulation and requirements for cleaning up closed mines.

"The point is that existing mining operations not be left unreclaimed, posing threats to the public health and environment," Douglas Meiklejohn, executive director of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, said Tuesday.

The state Court of Appeals, in a unanimous ruling issued Monday, said the New Mexico Mining Act applied to uranium mines that operated before 1993, when the law took effect.

The decision reversed a 2000 ruling by a district court in Santa Fe, which concluded that uranium ore wasn't covered by the mining law.

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