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Let's put responsibility on mining company, where it belongs Print

by Howard M. Williams (Letters to Editor)
Greeley Tribune
February 17, 2008

Comment Comments Print Friendly Print Email Email The predictable whining, wailing and moaning of uranium mining companies has begun following the recent announcement of two pieces of legislation at the Capitol: House Bill 1161 and HB 1165. They are water-protection bills presented by Republicans and Democrats. Uranium mining is a nonpartisan issue.

The proposed mines are close to populated areas of Weld County, near a drinking-water aquifer, and damage to it would adversely affect 40,000 ranchers, farmers and rural people, regardless of their political affiliation, and potentially many future Front Range communities.

Those bills put the burden of responsibility on the mining company to prove that what they intend to do is safe for our environment and our residents. Plus, this legislation makes mining companies accountable for damages and cleanup costs following mining. The taxpayers will appreciate not having to pay for mining disasters like Summitville a few years ago. HB 1161 and HB 1165 place greater authority in the hands of local authorities for land-use permits, rather than in the hands of state or federal agencies. This should appeal to everyone statewide.

We have had several "open" town hall meetings so residents, elected officials and the mining company could openly discuss the proposed mine. During one of these meetings, organized by U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., at the Nunn Community Center last July, the congresswoman personally asked Powertech officials about groundwater safety and other environmental issues. Following more than an hour of discussion, she concluded that Powertech had not provided sufficient enough assurances for her to support of the Centennial Project. Thank you, Congresswoman Musgrave.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and several Texas county officials have said all along that in-situ mining in a drinking-water aquifer tends to irreversibly contaminate that groundwater. Therefore, it should not be attempted in our drinking water. Pat Calhoun, president of the Goliad, Texas, County Farm Bureau, agrees that in-situ leach mining in someone's drinking water aquifer is like a surgeon removing a tumor from your brain with a meat clever. Both operations are successful except the patient dies following surgery, and the aquifer dies during and following the mining.

The attorney for Kleberg County, Texas, stated in the Greeley Tribune on Jan. 6, 2008, that "there has never been an in-situ mined aquifer in Texas returned to the water quality promised by the mining companies. They just lie to everybody".

The proposal to mine uranium in Weld County so close to large populations and our drinking water is a huge mistake on the part of the mining company. Those who have invested in this company have made a mistake as well. There are other investment opportunities for uranium mining in Colorado that will not adversely affect communities like ours. I would suggest you invest in them.

I urge support of HB 1161and HB 1165 for the good of all state residents. If you feel like I do, call or write your county, state and federal representatives. The mining industry has had a free hand in reaping huge profits in Colorado at our expense in the past. Let's put a stop to that now. For comprehensive, up-to-the-minute information on these issues, go to or

Howard M. Williams lives in Carr

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