Energy Fuels Plans Uranium Mill for West End Near Naturita | Around the Cone
by Art Goodtimes
Apr 04, 2008 | 848 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PIÑON RIDGE MILL …George Glasier of Energy Fuels Resources, the Nucla-based subsidiary of EF Inc, a Canadian corporation based in Toronto, Ontario, held an open house in Naturita last week, and a lot of folks came. Including me … A new uranium mill in the West End is big news for Norwood. Hundreds of uranium leases have been inked on public lands in San Miguel County alone, and once a new mill is in operation, a West End uranium boom is very likely … Right now, there’s one operating mill in the U.S. over in Utah, across the border near Blanding, but it doesn’t have the capacity to process much more yellowcake than it’s currently handling. And the Cotter mill in Cañon City, where some trucks were hauling ore previously, has been shut down. And it looks permanent for now. Cotter tried appealing. Lost and has finally thrown in the towel on its appeals … Of course, in the process, they hired a lot of out-of-work miners, gave them a few paychecks, and then fired the lot. It was boom/bust at its worst, and it left a bad taste in lot of mining mouths around here … Many folks at the meeting, even uranium industry supporters, were guardedly optimistic. But there were still a lot of questions. Where will 300,000 gallons a minute of consumptive use water come from to power the mill. Deep wells? Maybe, but it sounds like a long shot … And this time around there were half as many critics of the industry as supporters listening to a raft of experts explain how changed the industry was, how much better it would be about air and water quality, and how living near a mill or mine was equivalent to a couple cross-country airplane flights a year, in terms of radioactivity … But there were a couple of good signs that were unmistakable – especially for one like me who cut his teeth in the West End opposing a uranium mill slated for Nicholas Wash in Disappointment Valley near Slick Rock back in 1979. It eventually got licensed, but the downturn (bust) in uranium prices in the early 1980s meant the mill never got built … First, the industry has changed and the regulations have gotten stricter and more environmental. In fact, one of the state regulators assigned to this project, Philip Egidi, sports a ponytail like me, was a KVNF dj in Paonia for years, and is very serious about protecting the environment … Second, Energy Fuels is going about things the right way. Full disclosure. Open houses before any permitting meetings. A willingness to talk … In fact, I asked Glasnier if we could have a presentation to the San Miguel County Board of Commissioners in Norwood, and he said yes, absolutely, with the kind of optimistic enthusiasm of someone with nothing to hide. I found that encouraging … Like wilderness, or OHVs, or lots of those tricky issues that divide rural folks in our region, the uranium industry has its local supporters and its detractors. But whatever one’s opinion, it’s good to know that this time around we’ll be in on the project’s scoping, our comments will be taken seriously and addressed (whether we like the results or not), and this project will have to pass muster to be built – not just zip through an abbreviated process with no teeth … So, stay tuned. Glasier and his cohorts will be coming to Norwood soon to fill us in on what kind of project the Piñon Ridge Mill will be and what kind of impacts we might expect from it in the way of jobs and economic vitality as well as environmental issues and mitigations.

NATURITA POETRY … Susan Culver invited me (and wants to invite you) to an open poetry reading at the Naturita Community Building on April 18, at 7 pm. This is the second year for the April poetry reading, sponsored by the Naturita Library. And it’s also National Poetry Month.

SUMMER INTERN … I’ve long been seeking to share my knowledge of politics on the local level with a summer intern, and finally I think I’ve found one. Will Krebs of Michigan, who’s been working down on the Navajo Rez, wants to understand how government works at the county level, in exchange in helping me cope with the volume of email (100 a day sometimes) and amount of paper (a ream a week) that passes through my commissioner in-box at the Miramonte Building up in Telluride … Problem is, he needs a roof to throw his mattress for two months, June and July. So, a request … Anyone need some caretaking work in exchange for shelter, or have an extra room they can spare? … Will’s a fine young man, studied psychology in college and has worked as a teacher. I think he shows promise as a leader to come, and I hope I can help steer him that way.

PLP/CLUB 20/CALIFORNIA … That’s not your standard interconnection, but that’s my itinerary for the end of this week. Over to Delta for the Public Land Partnership meeting where I’m going to pitch my SAD (Sudden Aspen Decline) monitoring project, having already lined up a prospective intern from Duke to do the baseline studies. And to report on the SAD conference I attended in Fort Collins with Forester Tim Garvey of the USFS. We will be partnering on the monitoring project – to be modeled after the on-going Burn Canyon Salvage Logging Monitoring Project that we’re still engaged in … Then it’s up to Grand Junction for the board meeting for Club 20, the Voice of the Western Slope lobbying group that will be holding its annual spring gathering. The Governor is supposed to speak, and I’m looking forward to that … And then off to California again to check up on my dad, see how things are going for him, now that he’s back on his meds and back into the routine of living alone … For county business, I’ll be accessible by email and by cell phone (708-0387).

THE TALKING GOURD

April Fool’s

-a Ganci

No, they’re not going to

do whatever they say.

Nobody makes sense

on a day when fools rule.

Better bet the ranch

than build a better mousetrap.

Better lean on luck

than lurk with engineers.

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