By Monte Whaley
The Denver Post
October 14, 2007
FORT COLLINS — A controversial plan to mine uranium in Weld County is raising environmental concerns among the mine's neighbors.
Officials in Fort Collins and Larimer County have ordered studies on whether a mine will affect air and water quality in the region. Real-estate values in the area also will be weighed, said Larimer County Commissioner Randy Eubanks.
"Let's get past the emotion and give us the nuts and bolts of what kind of effect this mine will have on the region," Eubanks said.
No mining permits have been issued yet. But there is exploratory drilling going on at the site, which is on 5,760 acres of farmland between the towns of Wellington and Nunn.
The involvement of other government watchdogs over the proposal by Canadian-based Powertech Uranium Corp. to dig up more than 4,750 tons of uranium is welcome news to opponents of the idea.
"They will come to the same conclusion, that uranium mining just doesn't fit in public health," said Robin Davis, a Nunn resident.
Opponents hope the study will sway both state and Weld County regulators away from giving Powertech the permits needed to extract the ore.
Davis helped form Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction to oppose Colorado uranium mining, which the organization says damages groundwater supplies and pollutes the air with radiation.
Powertech officials say they are likely to use in-situ recovery to extract the uranium. That involves pumping treated water into uranium-laced deposits, which dissolves the mineral so the uranium can be pumped to the surface.
The ore is then removed from the water, and the water is returned to the area.
However, Powertech hasn't ruled out using open-pit mining to get at uranium deposits. Mining could begin in 2010.
Meanwhile, four other companies have bought mining rights in Weld County, Davis said.
Monte Whaley: 720-929-0907 or