Judge John N. McMullen tells the CDPHE that it’s time for a do-over on the radioactive license for the proposed Piñon Ridge Mill


The Sheep Mountain Alliance (@sheepmtn) sent out this tweet yesterday morning:

Victory for @sheepmtn in our lawsuit to stop the Piñon Ridge #Uranium Mill

They were kind enough to link to the judge’s order on Scribd. Here’s an excerpt:

The Court, having found unlawful CDPHE’s action in issuing the License, sets aside that action, invalidates the License, and remands the case for further proceedings consistent with this Order

From the Montrose Daily Press:

The CDPHE has been ordered to convene a hearing within 75 days of July 5, and to notice that hearing. “This hearing will be a substitute for the Feb. 17, 2010 public meeting,” the ruling says. The CDPHE must remake its licensing decision by following statutory procedures. The body has 270 days from July 5 to approve or deny Energy Fuels’ application. Until such decision is made “Energy Fuels Resources may not proceed with any activity on the site formerly permitted by the license.”

The company, can, however, take reasonable action to protect the public and the environment, and to prevent economic waste as long as doing so does not endanger the public or environment. Such actions have to be taken under the supervision of the CDPHE.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Judge John N. McMullen ruled June 13 that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment erred by issuing the license to Energy Fuels without public hearings required under the regulatory process.
Pinon Ridge would be the first new rock-crushing uranium mill to be built in the U.S. in 25 years. Communities in the area said they were concerned that lapses in state’s approval process prevented a thorough evaluation of potential and water quality impacts. “We asked for an opportunity to have meaningful public participation and we got it,” said attorney Richard Webster, who represented the towns of Telluride and Ophir in the lawsuit.

Another concern for the towns was the issue of bonding against potential future cleanup costs, as well as the spread of pollution from radioactive dust, Webster said, adding that the lawsuit focused on the regulatory process rather than those substantive issues.

Federal nuclear regulators appeared to agree with the local challenges. In a March 6 letter to environmental attorney Jeff Parsons, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also said that the state didn’t fully meet legal requirements for public involvement.

From the Denver Business Journal (Neil Westergaard):

Denver District Court Judge John McMullen on Wednesday invalidated the mill’s license, citing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for not following state and federal rules guaranteeing public input into the licensing process. McMullen, however, upheld the department in all of the other claims brought in the case by Public Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm, that acted on behalf of the towns of Telluride and Ophir…

The health department reserved comment, but in a statement, noted that the court ruled in the department’s favor in 10 of the 11 issues before it in the case. “The court ruled against the department only on the 11th claim, based upon a conflict in the Colorado Radiation Control Act and state radiation regulations,” the department said in its statement. “In doing so, the court rejected all arguments about how to reconcile the conflict and instead fashioned its own remedy. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s claim, raised for the first time in the plaintiff’s opening brief, that the department’s administrative record filed with the court was defective…

Energy Fuels said last year that it expects to spend $140 million reopening the uranium mill. The mill would employ about 85 people. Another 200 would work at the company’s two uranium mines in Colorado and Utah, which already have been permitted.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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