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A federal judge will allow a uranium mining company to drill several new holes in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Three Moab conservation groups had asked Judge Dale A. Kimball to halt the drilling planned by Denison Mines Corp. at its Pandora Mine, claiming the U.S. Forest Service permitted the project without an adequate environmental study.

Uranium Watch, Center for Water Advocacy and Living Rivers argued that Denison would create radioactive air emissions and heavy metal contamination if it drills 16 exploration holes and two radon vent holes, a project approved by the Forest Service.

Kimball gave more weight to Denison's environmental expert, who said there was no significant risk of environmental harm. Kimball also wrote that the Forest Service followed procedural rules when it allowed the project without environmental assessments or impact statements.

Erin Alberty