by Staff (Staff Reports)
April 1, 2008
A bill that would impose stricter standards for uranium mining in Colorado passed the state House on Monday morning.
The bill -- HB 1161 -- stipulates that uranium mining companies in Colorado clean up groundwater after they finish mining. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
A companion bill -- HB 1165 -- would give increased power to the Mined Land Reclamation Board to consider public health and the environment when considering a uranium mining operation. That bill will be heard in a House committee meeting Wednesday.
Powertech Uranium Corp., a company with plans to open a uranium mine near Nunn, lobbied to amend the bill and loosen language in the bill before it was heard in the entire House.
Opponents of the mine say uranium miners are never able to restore groundwater to pre-mining levels and that uranium mining is dangerous.
Powertech officials have said the in-situ -- literally "in-place" -- leach mining technique they are proposing to use at the mine near Nunn is safe and that groundwater will be protected.
The House passage comes after a group against the proposed Nunn mine sent a letter to legislators this week detailing violations at a uranium mine in Wyoming and urging them to vote for the uranium regulation bills.
The Wyoming mine -- which is not owned by Powertech but rather by a different company, Power Resources Inc. -- has had trouble cleaning up groundwater, has had about 80 spills of chemically treated water, leaks and other shortcomings, according to an investigation by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.