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Nunn Operation Could Harm Fort Collins Print

by Marina Mayer


ImageJust four weeks ago, my husband and I moved to Fort Collins. We bought a beautiful house with 10 acres, where we were planning on keeping livestock and growing vegetables.

This house was the result of a two-year long search for paradise. We visited Fort Collins just once last February and knew immediately that we found it: our paradise. There is beautiful scenery with views of the Rocky Mountains, friendly people who are looking after themselves and their environment. A great community where we hope to grow old.

Everything changed April 24, when we first heard about Powertech Uranium, a Canadian company that is planning on mining uranium in Nunn. A lot of people will now say: "Nunn, that's far from Fort Collins. This will not affect us." I say different. This will affect all of Northern Colorado. And I will explain why:

Water is the most precious commodity of Colorado. So how is it possible that a company, which is in the business of uranium mining only since 2006, can buy 5,760 acres of uranium mineral rights and start to mine for uranium with the potential result of contaminating the groundwater and aquifer with radioactive metals?

Powertech states on its Web site that it estimates it will recover 9,581,000 pounds of uranium U308 in Nunn, which has a resell value of roughly $125 per pound as of June 5. That would mean that Powertech could make $1.2 billion by selling the uranium to China or India, which are the countries with the highest demand in uranium today. I guess this sounds great - for the investors! This company makes billions of dollars by exploiting natural resources of Colorado. They might even be able to get around paying taxes in the United States because it is a Canadian company and they'll make enough money to pay good tax consultants.

In addition to the money they'll make, they could make a big mess!

The technology company officials say they want to use what is called "in-situ" leach mining. Here is what the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated 2007 about "in-situ" leach mining: "Although these 'in-situ' leach mining techniques are considered more environmentally benign than traditional mining and milling practices, they still tend to contaminate the groundwater" (NCR: Consideration of Geochemical Issues in Groundwater Restoration at Uranium In-Situ Leach Mining Facilities (NUREG/CR-6870), prepared by J.A. Davis, G.P. Curtis, published in January 2007).

So, what does that leave us with? Radioactivity in the groundwater that spreads into the drinking water and eventually finds its way into crops, livestock and, finally, people. As most of you already know: the result is cancer!

If Powertech starts to mine uranium, a lot of people will move away from these dangers. Real estate prices will drop, businesses will go bankrupt and unemployment will increase. Fort Collins will no longer be "the best place to live." It will be the worst.

But, is moving away really the solution to this problem? I don't think so.

Nunn is not the only victim of the new "gold rush." Because prices for uranium increased from $10 per pound in 2003 to now $125 per pound, no place with uranium resources is safe. There were more than 3,000 new uranium mining claims filed in Colorado in 2005.

Few will benefit from this "gold rush"; many will suffer.

Indigenous peoples from around the world issued a global ban on uranium mining on native lands during the Indigenous World Uranium Summit, held in December 2006.

Let's ban uranium mining in Colorado!

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