Many in Nunn fear the nuclear-fuel project would destroy groundwater and lead to economic disaster.
Article Last Updated: 07/20/2007 01:58:41 AM MDT
Nunn - Company officials Thursday night tried to quell fears that a planned uranium mine near this town of 500 would cause environmental devastation.
"The oversight by us and several government groups will ensure this will be a good project," said Richard Clement, president and chief executive of Powertech Uranium Corp.
But many who crowded Town Hall to study Powertech's plans said the mining would destroy the Weld County town's groundwater and lead to economic disaster. Some held signs outside the meeting demanding the company go away.
"We don't want them here at all," said Shari Hiibel, who, with her husband, bought 70 acres in Nunn two years ago for a horse stable. "But there is no way we want to live here now," Hiibel said.
Powertech is proposing a 5,760-acre development that could produce 8 million pounds of uranium - the material used to fuel nuclear power plants.
Before any work is done, Powertech will have to go through at least three years of project reviews by federal, state and local agencies, Clement said.
The proposed Centennial Project could generate as much as $1 billion in revenue, thanks to an emerging market for uranium. Stores of processed uranium have nearly dried up while demand is growing, with plans for up to 100 new nuclear power plants around the world, company officials say.
Powertech is proposing using an "in-situ" mining process in which a solvent solution is injected underground to dissolve uranium and pump it to the surface. Although the process causes some uranium and attached heavy metals to dissipate into surrounding soils, it is not enough to contaminate aquifers, the company says.
"And if the water supply is affected at all, we will work with the parties to make it right," said Richard Blurbaugh, Powertech's vice president of environment and safety.
But several residents said the project will leach toxins into surrounding soil and aquifers.
"We have repeatedly asked Powertech for one example of a uranium mine that did not pollute," said resident Robin Davis, "and they don't seem to have any examples to give us."
Staff writer Monte Whaley can be reached at 720-929-0907 or