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Numerous articles, editorials, and letters to the editor are being published in local newspapers concerning uranium mining in northern Colorado. To view them, see the Reference page.
Uranium mining bill goes to governor Print

By Pamela Dickman
Loveland Reporter-Herald
May 6, 2008

A bill tightening groundwater standards for uranium mining companies awaits Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s signature.

House Bill 1161, requiring in situ mining companies to restore water to previous conditions or state standards, passed the Colorado Senate on Friday and the Colorado House again Monday. The next step belongs to Ritter, who can sign it into law, allow the bill to become law without his signature, or veto it.

Fort Collins Rep. John Kefalas, who sponsored the bill, said he expects Ritter to sign it “in the near future.”

“This is a significant victory for protecting our groundwater,” said Kefalas.

Four Larimer County lawmakers — Reps. Kefalas and Randy Fischer, both Democrats, and Sens. Steve Johnson, a Republican, and Bob Bacon, a Democrat — introduced the bill after area residents expressed concern about a potential mine near Nunn.

Powertech Inc., a Canadian company with offices in Denver and Wellington, wants to mine uranium there using an in situ leach process. Powertech is currently collecting data that will allow it to apply for federal, state and Weld County permits.

Officials with the mining company have said the process is safe and will not hurt the groundwater, which thousands of area residents rely upon.

“If companies like Powertech are true to their word that they can do this without affecting groundwater, they should have no difficulty with this,” said Kefalas, noting that the law was not to stop uranium mining but to make sure it is done safely.

Officials with Powertech said they will comment on the legislation after it is signed into law.

Many area residents are not convinced by Powertech’s assurances and have banded together as Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction to fight the potential mine.

Members worked with legislators on the pending groundwater legislation law as well as a second bill that also awaits Ritter’s signature. Senate Bill 228, which also passed Monday, makes information on prospective mines public.

It strikes a balance between protecting companies’ proprietary rights and alerting residents of potential mines, said Johnson.

“These can have significant impact on the landowners, their environment, their land, their communities, their way of life,” said Johnson. “We’ve seen in our area that citizens are concerned.

“The citizens have a right to impact the process ... If they don’t know what’s going on, they are denied their rights to be players in the process.”

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