by Kevin Duggan
Fort Collins Coloradoan
February 28, 2008
U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., is keeping the heat on a uranium operation proposed for the high prairie between Nunn and Wellington.
Musgrave, whose district includes Larimer and Weld counties, has sent a letter to the Larimer County commissioners urging them to join her in opposing the mining project proposed by Powertech (USA). She has sent a similar letter to the Weld County commissioners, according to her office.
Powertech wants to use a process known as in-situ recovery to extract ore from sandstone deep underground. The process employs treated water to dissolve and recover the uranium. The water is circulated through a series of wells. Extracted uranium would be collected and ship out to Wyoming to be processed into fuel for nuclear power plants.
Powertech owns mineral rights on 5,760 acres west of Nunn. Uranium holdings within its Centennial Project are estimated to be more than 9 million pounds.
Although the company insists the in-situ process is safe, critics say it could contaminate the water, land and air around the mining area with radioactivity and heavy metals. The pollution could spread to other areas, including Fort Collins and Greeley, critics warn.
Larimer County is not among governmental entities that would have to grant permits for the Centennial Project to move forward. The county may, however, express its opinion to federal, state and Weld County regulators who will be asked for permits. Company officials expect to apply for permits in December.
The Larimer County commissioners held a public meeting Monday about the proposed mining operation, taking comment from Powertech, representatives of Coloradoans Against Resource Destruc-tion, or CARD, and 27 members of the audience.
Commissioner Randy Eubanks said he would offer a resolution in the coming weeks that would oppose the uranium mine. Eubanks said he would work with his fellow commissioners on the wording of the measure.
Commissioners Kathay Rennels and Glenn Gibson, while not as outspoken about the Powertech project as Eubanks, did express concerns about the proposal and its potential impact on water quality.