by Bill Jackson,
April 6, 2008
Weld County Commissioner Dave Long has thrown his support to a bill making its way through the Colorado Legislature that would impose stricter standards for uranium mining in Colorado.
House Bill 1161 passed the House Monday and has moved on to the Senate. It stipulates that uranium mining companies in Colorado clean up groundwater after they finish mining. A companion bill, HB 1165, was killed by a House committee Wednesday.
Long represents northern Weld County where Powertech Uranium Corp. has plans to open a uranium mine near Nunn. The company lobbied to amend HB 1161 and loosen language in the bill. 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.
Opponents of the mine say uranium miners are never able to restore groundwater to pre-mining levels and that uranium mining is dangerous.
Long said he planned to visit the State Capitol Friday afternoon while he was in Denver for another meeting and express his support for the bill to its sponsors.
"For me, it's a matter of private property rights and the value of those rights. That value is connected with water that is under the property, and it's important the quality of that water is protected," Long said.
He said he is also throwing his support to the measure because it provides a mechanism to insure that land disturbed by any mining operation would be returned to the way it was prior to that operation.