Dolores River: The Colorado Court of Appeals affirms Montrose County permit for the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill


From The Telluride Daily Planet (Benjamin Preston):

“This is an important project for western Colorado, and is going to mean an awful lot of job opportunities in a depressed part of the state,” said Gary Steele, an investor relations officer for Energy Fuels, Inc., the Canadian company slated to develop the project.

In order to obtain the permit from Montrose County, Energy Fuels had to agree to 18 conditions, which covered everything from the quality of uranium processed in the mill to the amount of water it can use. The conditions also include a 500-ton per day processing limit, plant footprint restrictions and a water quality monitoring requirement. The company has seven years to commence construction of the mill before having to go through the permitting process again.

“While those conditions aren’t adequate in our opinion, they’re better than no conditions at all, and they help protect the San Miguel River,” said Jennifer Thurston, a project coordinator with Sheep Mountain Alliance. In the wake of Energy Fuels’ recent triumph, Thurston said that SMA has not yet decided if they will attempt to have the case heard again by the appellate court, or try to push the case up the ladder to the state Supreme Court.

One thing is certain: SMA will pursue legal action against the project by way of the permit Energy Fuels received from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in January. The towns of Ophir and Telluride are co-plaintiffs in that case. Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser said that although Telluride isn’t opposing the mill just for the sake of opposing it, the town council wants to make sure air and water quality standards are as tight as possible.

Montrose County officials applauded the appellate court’s decision, but County Commissioner Ron Henderson wondered why SMA filed the suit to begin with. He said the case cost the county hundreds of hours of staff time, plus litigation fees, the amount of which he did not know.

“We included everyone who would possibly have a say during the permitting process,” he said. “I really don’t understand why Sheep Mountain Alliance filed [these lawsuits]. I guess it’s the American way, but it wasn’t very productive.”

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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