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Be prepared for what the wind blows Print

Fort Collins Coloradoan
by Randy Redmond-Ott
October 4, 2007

Last month, I began to speak about the Powertech Uranium Corp. and its desire to begin uranium mining on the border between Larimer and Weld counties.

Image There was an informational meeting in the Lincoln Center last week, and about 200 residents showed up to hear and to become informed. That means a vast majority of you have either made up your minds about the issue, or are still completely clueless.

There is an idea among some I spoke with that this uranium mining isn't our problem here in Fort Collins; that it is happening out on the border and the impact on us in town has little potential for danger.

Let me again point out that the southern border of this project is 10 miles from town, and that location is where Powertech is planning on open-pit mining. Powertech has publicly stated plans for sand and gravel pit mining at this location. I'm sure that it is a complete coincidence that the site where uranium deposits are closest to the surface and easily extractable just happen to be where they are doing gravel pit mining.

Those of you who were here when Mount St. Helens exploded may remember a layer of ash on your vehicles. This was an event that occurred about a thousand miles away. Do you really believe that an upslope wind can't move radioactive dust and debris 10 miles into town?

When City Council elected not to pursue the proposed Health and Safety tax, it shelved a plan to establish an air quality monitoring program to look for radioactive contamination. As it now stands, our plan is to hope for the best.

Powertech is wildly exuberant about this project, and why shouldn't they be? They stand to make wheelbarrows full of money because the price of uranium is now about $100 per pound, up from $10 a pound a few years ago.

Company officials are completely confident that they can do this project safely, without impact to the environment. A quick check of the company history shows that four years ago, its business was boilers and hot water heaters, and that it reorganized and reinvented itself two years ago to get into the uranium game. The company has never done in-situ mining or uranium mining, and seems to have never generated any revenue from the uranium mining business. No wonder they are optimistic.

Powertech's current vice president of Health, Safety and Environmental concerns is Richard Blubaugh. He formerly held the position of vice president of Health and Governmental Affairs for the bankrupt Atlas Corp. Atlas left the town of Moab, Utah, with at least 10.5-million tons of contaminated uranium extraction waste. Because the company was broke, all it could do was cover the pile with some gravel and hope it didn't leach a hundred yards or so into the Colorado River. About $600 million dollars and years of effort later, the taxpayers and federal government will have buried the waste in Crescent City, Utah.

I understand that Powertech has $300,000 worth of bonds for clean-up of this project.

The only way to stop this project is to become active.

Our governor touts himself as the green governor. Drop him a note at the state Capitol and let him know how you feel.

Or sit back and watch the wind blow.

Randy Redmond-Ott's Community column appears the first Tuesday of the month. Send e-mail via

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