Energy policy — nuclear: State Representatives Randy Fischer, John Kefalas and “Buffie” McFadyen petition state for tougher uranium in situ leaching rules

A picture named uraniuminsituleaching

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

State Rep. Randy Fischer wrote a letter also signed by Reps. John Kefalas and Liane “Buffie” McFadyen urging state mining officials to ensure mining companies can’t slip through a loophole in new rules being written to govern in situ uranium mining statewide.

The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety is in the process of finalizing the rules, which implement a 2008 law requiring mining companies to comply with strict environmental regulations if they plan to use in situ leaching. The rules will directly determine if and how Powertech will be able to proceed with its plans to mine for uranium in Weld County less than 10 miles northeast of Fort Collins.

Uranium mining companies, including Powertech, will be required to test the groundwater before they begin mining to determine baseline groundwater quality so they can learn the level of purity to which they will be required return the groundwater when they shutter the mine site.

But Fischer said many people living near potential uranium mine sites are worried uranium prospectors could search for uranium intending to mine using conventional methods but decide later to mine using the in situ leaching process. Conventional prospecting could be done without regard for groundwater quality, throwing off baseline water quality tests.

More on uranium mining from Kathrine Warren writing for The Telluride Daily Planet. From the article:

“There’s uranium throughout the Colorado Plateau, it’s not unique to the Paradox Basin,” said uranium expert and Colorado School of Mines geology Professor Sam Romberger. “The geology around the basin exposes part of the sedimentary layers that contain the uranium.”[…]

Uranium was a part of Earth’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago and is a major source of heat in the Earth’s core. The element is found in small amounts all around us. However, the rainfall and petrified organic matter from millions of years ago made the Morrison layer the perfect host for one of our planet’s primordial elements. The moving waters of this once-tropical coast brought uranium in contact with the organic matter of fossils or petrified trees. “Those channels were perfect for not only the transport but the deposition of uranium,” Romberger said. The deposits of the Morrison Formation are exposed to mining because of the San Miguel and Dolores rivers that wind through the formation. Most know parts of the exposed Morrison Formation as the Uravan Mineral Belt, the home of the most productive mines of Colorado and Utah’s uranium boom. “The Paradox Valley is what geologists refer to as a breached fold,” Romberger said. “The Morrison has been bent up and exposed to erosion along the rivers.”

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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