The proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill gets state license #ColoradoRiver


Here’s the release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Radiation Program today announced Energy Fuels Resources Corp. has met all the regulatory requirements for a radioactive materials license for the Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill in western Montrose County, Colo. State law requires the department to approve applications when such requirements are met.

The license was required before Energy Fuels could construct its planned 500-tons-per day uranium/vanadium mill approximately 12 miles west of Naturita, Colo., in the Paradox Valley.

The mill will process uranium ore from mines in the region to produce uranium oxide, which requires additional processing outside Colorado to become fuel for nuclear reactors. The mill also will recover vanadium, a metal used in steel alloys and high-tech batteries.

The license imposes a number of conditions on Energy Fuels involving construction of the mill; the receipt, possession, use and transfer of radioactive materials; and procedures to minimize risks to property and public health and safety, and to prevent loss or theft of radioactive material. Notably, the license requires an enhanced groundwater monitoring plan, subject to annual review.

A separate settlement agreement between Telluride and San Miguel County with Energy Fuels sets up additional protections related to the transportation of radioactive materials, blowing dust and water quality monitoring. In addition to the approximately $13 million financial surety established by the state, this agreement increases Energy Fuels’ total surety to an amount not less than $15 million.

Dr. Chris Urbina, executive director and chief medical officer of the department, said, “With the approval of the license, our work is not done. We will continue to work with the community members and officials to keep them informed of progress.”

During construction and operation of the Piñon Ridge facility, the department’s oversight will continue, including regular inspections and an annual review of the financial assurance. The department expects to have at least one staff member whose primary assignment will include monitoring and inspections of the facility.

Ron Henderson, chairman of the Montrose Board of County Commissioners said, “An exhaustive process has been followed and validated with the approval of this license.”
Montrose Commissioner David White said, “This validates the science behind the application, design and potential construction of the mill. It is a state-of-the-art facility and will benefit the citizens of Montrose County, the state of Colorado and the United States for decades to come.”

The license application was submitted by Energy Fuels on Nov. 18, 2009, and has undergone a thorough technical and regulatory review. Prior to its approval of the license, the department and the applicant conducted eight public meetings in 2010 in Nucla, Naturita, Paradox, Montrose, Telluride and Ophir. And in November 2012, the department held a six-day hearing in Nucla to allow cross-examination of witnesses and to solicit additional public comment. All of the information was thoroughly reviewed by the state’s Radiation Program prior to the decision to grant the license.

The administrative record includes comprehensive reports and comments by engineers, scientists, environmental and business groups, government officials from western Colorado counties and towns, and regulators. Anyone interested can view the department’s Decision Analysis and Environmental Impact Analysis, which includes a copy of the license and the department’s responses to public comments.

Dr. Urbina said, “From the beginning, we have listened carefully to the public and worked with Energy Fuels to minimize risks to public health and the environment. Today’s engineering standards – and strict environmental regulations – far exceed those in place when the last such mill was constructed more than 25 years ago. We are confident these standards and regulations will ensure the safe construction and operation of the facility.”

From the Associated Press (Alexandra Tilsley) The Denver Post:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued Toronto-based Energy Fuels a radioactive materials license, clearing the way for the creation of the Pinon Ridge Mill in western Colorado’s Montrose County…

That doesn’t mean construction is imminent. Energy Fuels spokesman Curtis Moore said the company is waiting for the price of uranium to rise. Currently, Moore said, uranium is priced at about $40 per pound, down from about $72 per pound before the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Plant in 2011. The spot price of uranium was more than $135 a pound when Energy Fuels announced plans for the mill in 2007…

Energy Fuels also plans to open or reopen a number of Colorado mines, Moore said. Those mines are all small—perhaps a few hundred acres in size—and are mostly in areas that have been mined previously. “These are historic mines, historic mining districts. These are not pristine wilderness districts,” Moore said…

Warren Smith, community involvement manager for the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division of CDPHE, said importing radioactive waste is not allowed under the license. He notes that waste produced by the mill will be stored in underground cells designed to last at least 200 years. The license carries a number of other environmental safeguards, including requirements that Energy Fuels monitor groundwater for contamination and install fences and wires to keep wildlife away from areas that might have radiation…

Montrose County Commission David White said that most area residents seem assured that the plan is environmentally sound and are excited about the economic possibilities. Once constructed, the mill is expected to create at least 85 jobs, with up to 400 jobs generated by opening additional mines and increasing economic activity, according to Moore.

More Piñon Ridge uranium mill coverage here and here.

Forecast news: Scattered showers possible for the southern mountains, thunderstorms southeast #COdrought #COwx

From the National Weather Service Pueblo office:

A weak weather disturbance is expected to ripple across Colorado today…bringing isolated to scattered rain and snow showers to the region this afternoon into tonight. Area temperatures are expected to continue their warming trend…with highs climbing to the 50s to low 60s over much of the high country and into the 60s to near 70 over the eastern plains.

From the National Weather Service Grand Junction office:

A weak system will move across the southern half of the area, with scattered afternoon and evening showers across mainly southwest Colorado and isolated showers over the central Colorado mountains. Isolated thunderstorms may occur as well with this system. Otherwise, skies will be partly sunny today with warmer temperatures than the previous few days, with high temperatures near normal. This warming trend will continue into the weekend and through the first half of next week, with well above normal temperatures and dry conditions.

Snowpack/Drought news: Denver Water is breathing easier these days, they plan to keep Antero Reservoir open #COdrought




Here’s the release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney):

Thanks to a snowy April, Denver Water will no longer need to close Antero Reservoir in order to move the water and store it in Cheesman and Eleven Mile reservoirs during the ongoing drought.

“Managing water supplies through a drought is an ever-changing process,” said Dave Bennett, water resource manager for Denver Water. “While we are still in drought and need our customers to save water, the recent snow has helped our supply situation. Keeping Antero open will be a benefit to Park County and those who love to fish there. If we drained the reservoir, it would take about three years to refill.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages the fishery and says effective immediately, the regular bag and possession limit — two trout per angler — at Antero will be reinstated.

Antero Reservoir will be open for recreational use from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. Hand-launched vessels will be allowed, but no trailered boats will be permitted until details about aquatic nuisance species inspections can be determined.

The reservoir was last taken out of service to assist with water management during the drought that began in 2002.

From email from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (Jennifer Churchill):

Due to Denver Water’s decision not to drain Antero this year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reinstating the bag and possession limit to two trout per angler immediately.

For questions regarding Antero operations, contact Denver Water at 303-628-6117

For more information on fishing hot spots in Colorado, see the new Colorado Fishing Atlas at:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state parks, more than 300 state wildlife areas, all of Colorado’s wildlife, and a variety of outdoor recreation. For more information go to

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

With a rebounding snowpack, Denver Water officials said this week they won’t drain Antero Reservoir, in Park County, as previously planned.

More Denver Water coverage here.

Record flooding in the midwest


Click on the thumbnail graphic for the map of streams in flood stage across the U.S. The midwest is getting pounded (depicted by the black triangles) as is the Red River along the Minnesota/North Dakota border.

It’s the time of year when water suppliers, irrigators, emergency responders, state water agencies and water wonks start watching the streamflow gages across the US. Click here to visit the USGS Water Watch website. Be careful though, if you are a data and map junkie the visit could eat up all your extra time for a while.

If you are in Colorado click here to visit the Division of Water Resources website. They have all the USGS streamflow gages along with those operated by the division.

More USGS coverage here.

Salida: Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas Wetlands Program and Field Trip, May 14 and 18


From email from the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas:

Wetlands Program and Field Trip

Program – May 14, 2013, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, Salida Community Center

Field Trip – May 18, 2013, 8:30 am to 11:30 am, location close to Salida, details given the night of the program

Join us for a exploration of wetlands. What are wetlands? Why are they so important? Why should we care? And, what types of wetlands are found in Central Colorado? Bill Goosmann will help us answer these questions. Bill has a Master’s of Science and is certified as a Professional Wetland Scientist. He managed the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado Division of Wildlife wetland programs. Bill has also designed and implemented wetland creation, restoration, and mitigation projects.

We will start with a program on May 14th at the Salida Community Center (corner of Third and F Streets), 7:00 pm. The following Saturday (May 18th) we will go out into the field to a wetland site just west of Salida. In addition to Bill, joining us on the field trip will be the Raquel Wertsbaugh, Wildlife Conservation Biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Raquel manages all the non-game programs in the region Also, Land Trust Executive Director, Andrew Mackie will round out the trip leaders. He is an avid birder and wetland ecologist by training.

The field trip will put into practice what we learned during the program. We will also search for and discuss the many species of wildlife that depend upon wetlands.

You must attend the Tuesday program to attend the field trip on Saturday. The program and field trip are free and open to the public. Please email or call the Land Trust to register at or 719-539-7700.

More conservation coverage here.

Denver: Water For People is presenting the Festival for Water at Civic Center Park on June 9


From the Associated Press via The Denver Post:

As Colorado prepares for what’s expected to be another dry summer, water organizations are planning a free festival in Denver to raise awareness about what it takes to get clean water to people worldwide.

The Denver-based nonprofit group Water For People is presenting the Festival for Water at Civic Center Park on June 9 in collaboration with sponsors, partners and the Denver-based American Water Works Association, whose annual conference kicks off that day in Denver.

Festival spokesman Aaron Carlson said the event, which is both a fundraiser and awareness builder, will feature bands including The Motet, plus food trucks. The idea is to get the public more involved in worldwide water challenges and not just draw the estimated 12,000 engineers, water providers, consultants and other water professionals attending the association’s conference, Carlson said.

“It’s important that people understand how lucky we are to turn on the faucet, and water magically comes out,” Carlson said. “There are people in parts of the world who have limited access to clean water. There are organizations in Denver that are working on the problem.”

Costs of the festival, estimated at about $80,000, are being covered by sponsors, including Molson Coors Brewing Co., for whom water is a key ingredient.

“Water supply is something you want to look at whether you’re expanding or going to developed or developing markets,” said Mike Glade, the brewer’s senior director of water resources and real estate.

In Colorado, farms, ranches, cities, environmental interests and various businesses have competing interests for limited supplies of water. Coors Brewing Co. in the past has tussled in court with the city of Golden over water rights and with the state over a 2000 beer spill that killed thousands of fish in Clear Creek.

Glade said Molson Coors, which is working to reduce its water use and protect watersheds, believes in the importance of collaboration to address water issues. “Reducing risk is a community effort. It can’t really be done alone,” Glade said.

More education coverage here.

Windsor first and second graders learn about wetlands in conjunction with the Jane Goodall Foundation


From the Windsor Beacon/Greeley Tribune (T.M. Fasano) via The Denver Post:

First- and second-grade students at Skyview Elementary School in Windsor are learning the importance of making the environment and the world they live in a better place.
The students — 44 in all — are participating in a service-learning project sponsored by The Jane Goodall Foundation’s Roots & Shoots program.

They’ll wrap up the project, which involves learning about their environment and rehabilitating the school’s wetlands, includes a field trip to the Ritchie Center on the campus of the University of Denver on May 4, where they will hear from Jane Goodall, who will reflect on her career as a conservationist and emphasize how young people can ensure a better future for the world.

The students’ project won’t end on May 4, however. Second grade teacher Kendra Jacoby said it will be an on-going learning experience for the classes. “I am part of a test group doing projects all over the Denver Metro Area and Northern Colorado,” Jacoby said. “Our campaign will last at least through this spring, and we are hoping that it becomes a service-learning project that will last for years to come. Our objectives are to rehabilitate the wetlands that are on the east side of our school grounds, and learn more about recycling and why it’s so important for our environment.”

The project started in February and has been extensive for the students, who also write in a reflection journal about what they’re learning for a language arts experience that also ties it to the state’s standards and curriculum. “It’s really important because when kids learn at this age they take that life lesson with them as they grow up, and they also go home and teach their parents,” Alexis Joens, outreach coordinator for Gallegos Sanitation in Fort Collins, said.

Jane Goodall speaks

Jane Goodall talks about inspiring and empowering young people. 9-10 a.m. May 4 at the Ritchie Center on the University of Denver campus, 2201 E. Asbury Ave. Event is free, but registration is required at

More education coverage here.

Grand Valley water related events during May #ColoradoRiver


From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

Grand Junction will be a hub of water activity in May with both educational events and major policy meetings. Here’s a sampling:

• May 13 — 5:30-7 p.m. Colorado Mesa University Ballroom: State of the River meeting

This annual meeting, co-sponsored by the Colorado River District and the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University, provides an opportunity to learn about our current and projected water supply situation. This year, there will also be presentations on the achievements of salinity control programs in the Grand Valley and research on the feasibility of a “water bank,” which would compensate agricultural water users for voluntarily cutting back water use in order to maintain critical uses during times of shortage. This meeting is a free educational event for the public, and light refreshments will be provided.

• May 14-15 — Colorado Water Conservation board meeting

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is the state’s primary water policy and water project financing entity. The board will have its May meeting in Grand Junction, giving local residents the opportunity to watch the board at work and make comments on agenda items. Details on the location and agenda will be published on the CWCB website prior to the meeting.

• May 16-17 — Colorado Basin Salinity Control Forum

When water is applied to the soils in our region, the flows back to the river often contain high levels of naturally occurring salts. The trouble this causes to downstream farmers has led to many efforts to limit deep percolation through our soils through measures such as canal lining and irrigation efficiency. The Colorado Basin Salinity Control Forum meets regularly to assess the effectiveness of these efforts, and in May, they will hold their meeting in Grand Junction in the Courtyard by Marriott on Horizon Drive.

• May 29-31 — Lower Colorado River Basin float and tour

Not all the water events in May are inside, wonk-talk affairs. On May 30-31, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education will host a tour of key sites in the Grand Valley and uphill on the Grand Mesa. Discussions and sites on the tour will illuminate issues such as the purchase of agricultural water rights to serve the Grand Valley’s growing urban population, energy development in water supply watersheds, endangered fish recovery efforts, and tamarisk control. Prior to the tour, on May 29, the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University will host a float down the river from Palisade to Corn Lake.


Details on all these events and many more can be found on the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University’s website, at

More education coverage here.