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Uranium miners leave broken promises, pollution Print

by Weston Sands
Rocky Mountain Collegian
February 14, 2008

This is in response to Ian Bezek's article "Hysteria over Uranium Mining is Unjustified," an article that paints uranium mining as benign.

I would like to provide an alternative perspective.

Ian talked about the health problems of uranium mining being solved with technological advances.

Unfortunately, Powertech plans on using old mining techniques, specifically open-pit mining, that would spread radiation across the countryside and surface water. Exposure to any amount of radiation can lead to cancer, and the more exposure you get, the more likely you are to get sick.

Powertech does plan on using a newer technique known as in-situ mining, but this is not free of problems. Just east of Fort Collins at Grover, an in-situ site caused much-elevated radiation levels in the groundwater. Any studies to the contrary should be carefully scrutinized for funding from mining companies.

By looking at a similar current situation one can also derive the validity of these statements. In Goliad, Texas, a uranium mining company made the same promises that Powertech is making to Colorado residents.

Promises that their drinking water would not be affected and that they would benefit from the economic boost.

Residents of Goliad, living near the uranium exploration, are no longer able to drink from their wells due to high concentrations of Iron. They now have to pay for bottled water.

The Goliad County government has come out against the plan to mine uranium, because there have been all sorts of violations of laws that were designed to protect the public and because of radioactive pollution - and that's just during the exploration process. The mining company claims that the water was contaminated to begin with.

In Bezek's article, he quotes a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study, saying uranium is safe. Within the same study, they explain that ingesting uranium can cause kidney disease, and that they are unsure whether uranium causes reproductive problems.

The document's foreword informs readers that not all information was gathered in a clinical setting. And there is plenty of evidence (dozens of peer-reviewed studies) that show that uranium miners have much higher rates of lung cancer.

If this mine really has minimal risk to our health, then why has the Colorado Medical Society officially opposed the mine because of health risks?

The economic boost is an arguing point for the mine, but the numbers are deceiving.

Most of the jobs created by the mine require specialized workers that would be brought in. Few jobs would be created for locals, and they'd be short-term.

The amount of tax revenue is questionable, but we do know, if things go wrong, Powertech could leave a mess on our hands. They are a Canadian company and would only have to click a few computer keys to transfer all their money out of the U.S.

What is scary to think about is Richard Blubaugh, Powertech's vice president, was involved with a uranium operation in Moab, Utah that went bad.

He was in charge of clean-up, but his company went bankrupt and left the mess for taxpayers - to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

The federal government now predicts that that site will not be cleaned up until 2025 or after.

The most laughable of Bezek's arguments is calling Colorado's mining laws "stringent." Federal mining laws have not been updated since 1872, and Colorado stands alone as the only Western state to allow complete secrecy in mineral exploration activities.

The bottom line is a company wants to get rich and leave us with the clean up. If you look at the track record of the people who want to mine 11 miles from Fort Collins, you'd see a trail of broken promises and millions in wasted taxpayers' dollars.

You need not be an environmentalist to realize that this mine is a risk that is simply not worth taking. Sign the online petition at www.nunnglow.com if you want to help stop the mine.

Weston Sands is a junior psychology major. Letters and feedback can be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it




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