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Time to stop denying hazards of uranium Print

by Randy King

Guest Commentary
Greeley Tribune
September 13, 2007

A nuclear storm is brewing in northern Colorado so we may consider practicing the old duck and cover.

A Canadian company called Powertech has purchased thousands of acres of mineral rights to extract 1 million tons of uranium from the immense Cheyenne Laramie Fox Hills Aquifer. An aquifer lying beneath much of northern and northeastern Colorado, supplying drinking water for tens of thousands of people, and agricultural water to grow crops and animal products for millions.

The uranium deposit is harmless if left undisturbed. But if mined, it will certainly trash a most precious water source, as well as the prestigious distinction northern Colorado has as a choice place to live, recreate and raise children. We will be left with greatly deflated property values and a Super Fund site, while Powertech officials exit the state with $1 billion stuffed in their pockets.

This dastardly procedure is to take place within 25 miles, predominantly upwind, of nearly one-half million northern Colorado residents. Another 3 million in the Denver-metro area are not much farther away. It will take 10 to 12 years to accomplish and require the extraction of billions of tons of material, leaving an underground cavern (in the aquifer) of unfathomable proportions, filling with water so polluted it can never be used by humans again. There will be extracurricular activity including the hauling of tailings and uranium across the entire region.

All this to supply a nuclear power resurgence in the United States and in developing countries that have little regard for safety or the environment. An industry that has never been, or ever will be, safe or clean.

Remember Chernobyl? It's still melting down 21 years later and still poses a worldwide threat that will most likely last forever. We still don't know what to do with the waste generated from nuclear power plants we have now (with a half-life of ten thousand years). Then there are serious security issues, with the times we now live in, that must have groups like al-Qaida licking their chops!

We are on the cusp of tremendous alternative energy technology that will propel us far away from the need of fuels like nuclear and fossil. We know the answers and the right thing to do. The question is will we continue to live in denial and remain our own worst enemy? If so, we have no one to blame but ourselves for our ultimate destruction. Let's not go there.

Randy King has worked for 27 years in water quality and treatment in northern Colorado. He lives in Wellington.




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