Fort Collins Coloradoan
By Lyndsey Struthers
October 14, 2007
Residents voice concern about proposed plan
NUNN — Rep. Marilyn Musgrave questioned Powertech (USA) Inc. officials Saturday about a proposed uranium mine in western Weld County.
Musgrave, who hosted a forum on the mine, asked Powertech officials if they could assure concerned residents that the mine wouldn’t damage the area. Critics say the mine could contaminate water in aquifers below the plains, which residents use for drinking and irrigation.
Lane Douglas, project manager for the proposed mine, said unless the company can demonstrate that it will not cause damage to surrounding aquifers, it won’t go ahead with the mine.
“If we are unable to prove that, we won’t get a permit,” he said.
About 200 people turned out for the forum at the Nunn Community Center, most of whom opposed the proposed mine.
“There have been few issues that have elicited the concern this proposed uranium mine has caused,” Musgrave said.
Powertech is considering mining uranium from 5,760 acres east of Wellington for which it owns the mineral rights.
The company has said it intends to use a process known as in-situ recovery that uses treated water pumped under high pressure to extract uranium ore from underground deposits in the area. But Richard Blubaugh, Powertech’s vice president of environmental health and safety resources, said Saturday he couldn’t rule out an open-pit mine.
Officials have said the company is more than a year from applying for permits from state and county regulatory agencies.
The proposed mine has been met with heavy opposition from locals who cite threats to water quality, the economy and quality of life. Opponents also filled out a panel of speakers at the forum, which included Lilias Jarding of Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction, Jeffrey Parson, senior attorney with the Western Mining Action Project, Dr. Cory Carroll of the Larimer County Medical Society and Kent Peppler, president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. Douglas joined the panel after the forum began.
“One of the impressive things about this whole situation is we have people from all levels of government. We have people from both political parties, and that is certainly not true with most issues,” Jarding said.
During a public comment period, Powertech’s Douglas, who said he disagreed with information provided by the panel, said he would have liked to have been initially included on the forum’s panel.
Musgrave, after apologizing for company officials not receiving her invitation to sit in on the panel, invited Douglas to join the four opponents of the project.
“It is always better when people show up to talk,” Musgrave said.
Musgrave held the forum to give residents a better understanding of the potential impact of the mine in Northern Colorado.
“I think we can make the best decision when we have all of the information,” she said.
Jarding said she was glad to have the backing of Musgrave, who grew up in the area, on “one of the most important things to the area in a long time.”
“She comes from a rural background, she knows the importance of water,” Jarding said. “I don’t think there is any doubt about that.”