From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):
Proponents of the comparatively carbon-free nuclear power industry, including Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, maintain the state’s toxic past was born of ignorance about the dangers and new technology makes mining and processing much safer. State lawmakers clearly want more concrete assurances. “Our number one goal as a legislature should be public safety,” Rep. McFadyen said in a release. “This no nonsense legislation ensures toxic waste cleanup and the health of our citizens.”
HB 1348 would require uranium operators to clean up existing problems before applying for expansion permits; allow local governments, the public and other stakeholders to provide input during the Colorado Department of Putlic Health and Environment’s annual reviews of cleanup financing; require uranium companies to notify residents with water wells near groundwater contamination; and require state licensing when companies accept “alternate feed,” or toxic waste from industrial or medical operations.
“Actions have consequences, and uranium companies need to clean up their mess,” said Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, another sponsor of the bill.
More coverage from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):
Though the measure could affect one operating near Canon City, the planned Piñon Ridge mill 12 miles west of Naturita already would be required under existing laws to do much of what House Bill 1348 calls for, said George Glasier, president and CEO of Energy Fuels Inc., which is hoping to open the first uranium mill in the nation in 25 years.
Glasier said the measure, introduced by several southern Colorado lawmakers, is aimed at the Cotter Uranium Mill in Fremont County, which has been plagued with contamination problems since the late 1950s. The lawmakers said they introduced the measure to deal with long-standing concerns over cleanup of that mill, parts of which already are a federal Superfund cleanup site. The bill is aimed at existing mills that release radioactive material into the groundwater, requiring them not only to report how it is being cleaned up, but also ensuring they have set aside enough cash to pay for it, said Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, and the bill’s sponsor. It would bar mills from expanding operations until the contamination is removed, she said…
The bill would make it harder for Cotter to get the site cleaned and make it impossible for other sites, including ones not yet opened, to stay in business, [John Hamrick, Cotter’s vice president of milling] said. “The bill as written essentially will prevent uranium milling within the state because of language concerning release of materials,” Hamrick said. “If you have a shovel full of uranium ore and you dump it on the ground, at that point you have a release that would exceed standards. That’s a poison pill for uranium mills.”