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Uranium mine - Many dangerous hazards Print

by HOPE STEFFENS-NETT (Letter to the Editor)
Boulder Camera
August 11, 2008

The Bush administration continues to chide and threaten Iran because they are producing and enriching uranium. And yet, on private farmland in Weld County, 11 miles northeast of Fort Collins, a Canadian mining corporation -- Powertech Uranium -- is planning an open pit mine. Yes, you guessed it: A uranium equivalent in depth to a 12-story building.

Think desecration. Mine tailings (waste material) will accumulate on the Earth's surface. The uranium grade in this area is only about 0.1 percent, which means 2.9 billion tons of rock must be mined to remove the uranium.

Think cancer. Uranium is a naturally occurring element when left undisturbed. If taken to the surface, it becomes dangerous when ingested or inhaled.

Think wind and mine tailings. Just what we need in northeast Colorado, home of the state's first wind farm. A Navajo population living near uranium mining operations in southern Colorado experienced a 1,500 percent increase in testicular and ovarian cancer in children.

Think contamination. Water will be pumped from the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer to process the uranium. Pressurized water carrying dissolved uranium, forced through underground cracks and fissures, will potentially contaminate the aquifer. In addition, retention holding ponds will bleed uranium-laden water into the groundwater.

In 2001, there were 33,700 wells, which drew water from the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer. Several of the wells provide water to the Front Range farmers who bring their produce to our Farmers Market.

Think depletion. It's estimated that one million gallons of water per month will be drawn from the aquifer to process the uranium.

Think Iran. Think uranium. Think duplicity. OK for us but not for Iran? For more information, go to:

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