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Galvin Mudd Says Standard is High for Powertech Print

by Bobby Magill This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Fort Collins Coloradoan
August 19, 2009

An Australian environmental engineer told a crowd at the Fort Collins Senior Center on Tuesday night that if Powertech is allowed to mine uranium northeast of Fort Collins near Nunn, the mining should “do no harm” to the area’s groundwater.

Dr. Gavin Mudd, a lecturer at Monash University in Australia and an expert in in-situ leach uranium mining, told a crowd of more than 150 people Powertech has a very high standard to meet. The company must comply with a new Colorado law requiring it to leave the groundwater in the same condition it is today once mining is complete.

Citing a recent U.S. Geological Survey report, Mudd said no in situ uranium mine in the United States has ever been able to meet that standard.

The state is conducting a public rulemaking process for the 2008 law, House Bill 1161, which will determine how the law is implemented and if Powertech’s mining plans can go forward. A public meeting on the issue will be 1 p.m. today at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources headquarters in Denver.

Because it is so difficult for the uranium mining industry to prove it won’t harm groundwater, Mudd compared Powertech’s proposed in situ leach mining to a dilemma over the safety of nuclear waste.

“The problem with nuclear waste is you can’t do it until you prove it safe, and you can’t prove it safe until you do it,” he said.

He said it’s a myth that in situ leach mining is benign, but it is less harmful than open-pit mining.

Radon exposure is a serious concern with this type of uranium mining, too, he said, adding that uranium mining so close to a major population center could expose people living there to radioactive particles.

One woman in the audience asked Mudd which uranium mining method he favors. In response, Mudd compared all kinds of uranium mining to slavery because, historically, governments justified continuing an institution harmful to people because another country would out-compete them if they didn’t continue.

Discontinuing uranium development, he said, is the right thing to do regardless of the consequences because the risks of nuclear power are too great.

Wayne Heili, who said he works for a uranium mining company in Wyoming, traveled from Casper to hear Mudd speak.

“I came here to listen and understand and clearly not to make inflammatory statements,” Heili said. “The industry is not going to affect people the way they fear it will.”

Heili said government regulators and the industry have the expertise and knowledge to operate a uranium mine without harming people.

Carl Alexander of east Fort Collins said he’s not against uranium mining per se, but he opposes the mine being built so close to Fort Collins, the closest major population center to the mine.




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