by Ann Depperschmidt
The (Loveland) Reporter-Herald
December 15, 2007
Petition gains 5,700 signees
A company that wants to mine uranium less than 10 miles northeast of Fort Collins can be stopped, opponents of the mine said Friday.
“Uranium mines have been stopped before,” said Lilias Jones Jarding, a member of Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction.
Jarding and Jackie Adolph, both active opponents to the proposed uranium mine between the towns of Wellington and Nunn, spoke at Friday’s Loveland Kiwanis Club meeting.
Canadian-based Powertech Uranium Corp. plans to mine uranium on 5,760 acres of farmland in Weld County. Powertech is in the permitting stage now and plans to begin mining in 2010.
Last week, the Kiwanis Club heard from Powertech’s vice president of exploration on why the mine, known as the Centennial Project, will be safe.
Powertech plans to use a process called in-situ mining, which involves pumping treated water into uranium-laced deposits to dissolve the mineral so the uranium can be pumped to the surface.
The uranium is then removed from the water, and the water is returned to the area.
Powertech maintains that the process will be safe and will have the proper regulatory oversight to prevent any problems from happening.
But a growing number of people disagree.
More than 5,700 people have signed a petition circulated by Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction opposing the mine.
U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican who serves the proposed mine’s area, has spoken out against the plan, and Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., has asked federal agencies to look into the mine’s effect on water quality.
Two Larimer County Democrats, State Reps. Randy Fischer and John Kefalas, are drafting a bill they say would improve out-of-date mining rules. Larimer County’s Environmental Advisory Board is studying possible effects on air, land and water associated with uranium mining.
And the Colorado Medical Society, Larimer County Medical Society and the Fort Collins City Council have approved resolutions opposing the planned mine.
Jarding, who has a PhD in political science with an emphasis in environmental policy, said past studies have shown in-situ mining contaminates the environment and causes increased rates of cancer nearby.
It also lowers property values, something she said is already happening to the area surrounding the proposed mine.
“Some say property values have decreased 20 to 30 percent there,” Jarding said. “But nothing has sold there, so it’s a little hard to tell.”
She said the radioactivity coming from a uranium mine — whether it’s in-situ or traditional hard-rock — would hurt livestock, contaminate underground water supplies and cause health problems, among other issues, if allowed to move forward.
Instead, Northern Colorado, and the country, should focus on building its renewable-energy industry, Jarding said, noting that 96 square miles of solar panels could produce enough energy to fuel the country’s electricity needs.
“Northern Colorado is trying to be seen as a renewable-energy hotbed,” she said. “Clearly (a uranium mine) is not compatible with that.”