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Proposed Mining Rules Revised Print

BY BOBBY MAGILL This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Fort Collins Coloradoan
October 18, 2009

Powertech would have to cite examples of successful cleanups

The state on Tuesday will issue a revision of proposed rules that will determine how a potential uranium mine northeast of Fort Collins will be required to prevent groundwater contamination near the mine.

The rules will directly affect Powertech USA's proposed Centennial Project uranium mine between Wellington and Nunn. If built, the project will be an in situ leach uranium mine, which many in the region fear could contaminate the area's groundwater.

Already, city and town councils in Fort Collins, Greeley, Nunn, Wellington and other cities have passed resolutions opposing the mine because of its potential impact on area water quality.

If approved, the proposed rules will implement a 2008 law, House Bill 1161, which regulates in situ uranium mines across the state, requiring mining companies to return the groundwater around an in situ leach mine to the same quality it was prior to mining.

Before the state can issue an in situ leach mining permit, the law requires mining companies to cite five examples of other similar mining operations that did not harm groundwater.

On Friday, the draft rules were still being revised, and changes were still being made throughout the document based on public comments the state Office of Mined Land Reclamation had received, office director David Berry said.

The rules and the law will "provide a minimum level of protection for groundwater from in situ uranium mining," said Jeff Parsons of the Western Mining Action Project in Boulder. "Powertech's proposal is in an inappropriate place surrounded by water wells on all sides."

In a Soapbox printed in the Coloradoan Oct. 1, Powertech Chief Operations Officer Wallace M. Mays said the company supports "rational, well-tailored" state rules.

After the revised rules are issued Tuesday, the public will have until Nov. 10 to submit comments. A hearing will be Dec. 3.

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