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Mining bill has essential protections Print

Fort Collins Coloradoan
March 31, 2008

Reps. should be commended for listening to their constituents' concerns

Colorado lawmakers appear to have been listening to residents' concerns as the prospect of renewed uranium mining becomes more real in the state.

Friday, the House of Representatives appropriately passed HB 1161, which increases water quality protections and public oversight on in-situ uranium mining operations. The impetus of the legislation is a Canadian mining company, Powertech, proposing to mine uranium using the in-situ (water injection) process near Nunn in Weld County. Uranium projects are also being considered in Park County and Fremont County.

Uranium mining in Colorado already has a history that includes a boom-and-bust mentality, radioactive tailings removal and abandoned mines, primarily on the Western Slope.

Today, with uranium prices skyrocketing, the industry is renewing its efforts in Colorado. Meanwhile, uranium claims on public lands have increased from 120 in 2003 to 10,730 in 2007, according to Environment Colorado.

Protections outlined in HB 1161 are essential.

HB 1161 is limited in scope but it should be effective in requiring mining companies using in-situ restore groundwater to original, pre-mining condition based on state standards for radioactive materials and toxic metals. The bill also defines "designated mining operations" to enhance public health and environmental health oversight, and it requires mine operations to inform nearby landowners of their proposed permit.

Local state Reps. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins; John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins; and Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, are commended for listening to their constituents' concerns and crafting legislation that will provide more environmental and public health protection in light of increased uranium mining activity.

We look forward to seeing Gov. Bill Ritter sign this legislation.

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