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Radioactive waste eternal Print

by Nora Flanagan (Letter to the Editor)
Windsor Beacon
February 21, 2008

The catastrophic failure of the Leadville Drainage Mine Tunnel, which dangerously threatens to contaminate the water of people in Leadville and in communities living downstream, clearly shows the grave threats to our groundwater, health and safety that can result when mining is conducted near populated areas and sources of water.

The potentially catastrophic crisis at Leadville is fully relevant to proposed uranium mining in Weld County and northern Colorado. The Leadville crisis shows what mining operations can do to our groundwater.

Groundwater is not a closed system. The in-situ mining proposed by the uranium industry for Weld County will not use any walls or barriers to trap or contain the groundwater disturbed in the mining well-field. No device or mechanism will be in place to permanently confine the chemically-treated water which is injected under pressure into the aquifer or the toxic waste water which is re-injected into the aquifer after extraction of uranium.

Any protections proposed by the uranium mining industry will be designed and made by humans. Things made by humans do not last forever. Only the radioactive wastes will be here forever. Eventually, all structures fall apart and all machinery fails. The looming disaster at Leadville is just one prime and immediate example of this.

We must implore our state legislators now to pass Colorado House Resolution 1161, which will strengthen and modernize standards for in-situ mining, and House Resolution 1165, which will establish local control over mining operations.

Nora Flanagan lives in Fort Collins




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