Sheep Mountain Challenges Mill’s License Again
by Gus Jarvis
Jun 06, 2013 | 1313 views | 1 1 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MONTROSE COUNTY – The Telluride-based environmental group Sheep Mountain Alliance is continuing its fight against the proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill in the West End of Montrose County with yet another legal challenge to the mill’s recently reissued radioactive materials license.

Last week, Sheep Mountain Alliance filed the complaint against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, arguing that the neither the agency nor the hearing officer Judge Richard Dana addressed “substantial concerns” raised in last year’s public hearing in Nucla. 

According to Sheep Mountain Alliance, extensive expert and public testimony was presented at the six-day public hearing held in November 2012, identifying problems with water, shallow hydrogeology, air pollution, tailings design, economic impacts, safety and environmental protections. These concerns, Sheep Mountain Alliance alleges, were not addressed by Dana or the state in their decision to reissue the license.

“The State of Colorado has once again blatantly ignored scientific and technical evidence that the Piñon Ridge Mill as proposed would endanger Colorado's clean air, clean water, public health and economy,” said Hilary Cooper, executive director of Sheep Mountain Alliance. “Meanwhile Energy Fuels continues to pursue a license for a facility it has publicly stated that it does not have the funding or intent to develop.”

According to Cooper, an administrative hearing resulting in a definitive ruling by an independent law judge is a key component of modern nuclear fuel licensing. Sheep Mountain Alliance’s complaint asks the court to invalidate the license and require that modern licensing requirements are met before allowing the mill to be built. During the November 2012 hearing, according to SMA, Colorado’s chief regulator of radioactive materials said that the agency lacks the resources to carry out its regulatory functions over uranium milling tailings disposal.

“Currently, there are no Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations that require licensees to promptly remediate radiological cleanup,” said Travis Stills, an attorney with Energy & Conservation Law representing Sheep Mountain Alliance in the complaint.

“With its continued pursuit of the license for a facility it does not intend to build, Energy Fuels is deceiving the communities surrounding the Piñon Ridge Mill,” Cooper said. “We will continue to fight this application to ensure that the highest standards are met and that the clean air and water of the Dolores River Basin are protected from an industry with a legacy of contamination and expensive taxpayer cleanup liabilities.”

In response to the latest legal challenge, Energy Fuels spokesman Curtis Moore said on Tuesday that the complaint is repetitive.

“We think Sheep Mountain Alliance is trying to re-litigate issues that have already been decided,” Moore said.

As for when Energy Fuels plants to begin construction on the uranium mill, Moore said in a previous interview that the company is waiting for uranium prices to strengthen before it does so.

Twitter: @Gus_Jarvis

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June 07, 2013
I think Energy Fuel's Curtis Moore is totally correct! EF has to wait for uranium prices to rise enough, long enough, with a good future in order to invest in a mill that would produce a profit. The mill is proposed for a forty year operation.

Now look at uranium prices for the past 5-7 years and you will see that, except for a small increase (from $20 to $70) for about 1.5 yrs, uranium prices will never meet the level required by Pinon Ridge; well maybe since they aren't telling exactly what that price and outlook stats would inspire them to break ground. California just decommissioned a nuclear power plant; one more purchaser out of the mix. Uranium is being discovered all over the world in places with far less overhead and environmental concerns as USA. In theory, EF is a global company and they don't give a damn about Naturita or Nucla.

For those who weren't at the hearing, EF's main guy said in a cross exam question that if the mill were operating and the price fell below profitability that they would immediately close the mill. Bust heaven!! No whining!!

I think this is a scam and feel for the folks in Nucla and Naturita who are being led along by this boardroom fantasy and the Montrose County Commissioners. As a taxpaying Montrose County West End resident, I'd like to know exactly where are the Montrose County Commissioners, in supporting the economic development of those folks? Outside of this fantasy that may be years away, I see nothing.

So MBOCC, while you are supporting Canadian (penny stock) Energy Fuels to the hilt, help out your own in the West End. Put some money where your mouth seems to be; not sure. Haven't heard anything from you guys except uranium. They need help now, from you!! not from some foreign company in a murky future.