By Charles Ashby, Chieftain Denver Bureau
The Pueblo Chieftain
January 17, 2008
DENVER - Though aimed mostly at a Fort Collins uranium mine, two measures that five Northern Colorado lawmakers plan to introduce this week could affect Southern Colorado.
The Fort Collins-area lawmakers are embroiled in a battle against a proposed uranium mine near town that would use a controversial mining method called insitu leaching, which involves using water to separate minerals from ore deposits.
But the lawmakers, led by Democratic Reps. Randy Fischer and John Kefalas, are concerned about what it might do to groundwater supplies.
"Here in Colorado, we are at a crossroads with this new mining technology," Kefalas said. "Our old laws are not adequate to address the potential risks that are presented by this new technology, this potentially dangerous technology. A toxic and radioactive threat looms over the rivers and in our mountains and over our groundwater. There are hundreds of these (mining) claims around Colorado."
The first measure, HB1161, is designed to protect water from radioactive and heavy metal pollution by requiring mining companies to prove that they would be able to restore groundwater supplies to pre-mining quality.
The second measure, HB1165, would require mining companies to report where they are exploring for uranium, and where they are considering starting new mines.
Sharyn Cunningham, co-chairwoman for the Canon City-based Citizens Against Toxic Waste, said the two bills could go a long way toward protecting landowners and water users elsewhere in the state, including the Tallahassee area where she said some mining companies are already exploring for uranium.
"One of the things that's difficult is that our state is one of the worst in regard to keeping exploration information confidential," she said. "That's one of the things the bill addresses. The exploration part also pollutes water."