By Kevin Duggan
Fort Collins Coloradoan
January 18, 2008
The prospect of uranium mining coming to its neighborhood is prompting a Weld County animal sanctuary to consider moving its operations.
Denkai Animal Sanctuary founder and director Floss Blackburn announced Thursday the nonprofit hopes to buy a 640-acre ranch near Grover and move there before uranium mining begins near its current location in Carr.
Blackburn said the sanctuary hopes to raise $80,000 in the next 30 days for the initial payment on the property. Buying the ranch and moving the sanctuary would cost about $500,000.
Denkai was considering a move from in its current site when its two-year lease on the property ends, Blackburn said. Word that Powertech (USA) plans to extract uranium ore from under the prairie south of Carr pushed the nonprofit to look harder for another home, she said.
Blackburn said she's worried contamination from the mining process could affect the sanctuary.
"There's no reason to put ourselves at risk or these animals," she said.
Pete Webb, a spokesman for Powertech, said the sanctuary's fears are "unfounded."
Powertech officials would discuss the Centennial project and its impact on groundwater with sanctuary operators, he said, but have not been approached for information.
The sanctuary houses about 150 domesticated animals, mostly horses and llamas. Powertech has done test drilling two miles south of the sanctuary, Blackburn said.
The sanctuary's previous home in Nunn was among properties purchased by Powertech for mining, she said.
Powertech officials have said they plan to apply for permits to mine uranium using the in-situ recovery process, which uses treated water to dissolve and extract ore from sandstone beneath the surface, by the end of 2008. The project must be approved by federal, state and local authorities.
Uranium exploration is occurring across northern Weld County, Webb said, including Grover.