Do You Know the History of the Paradox Valley?
Aug 20, 2009 | 1401 views | 7 7 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print

At the Thursday night, Aug.13 public comment meeting at Nucla High School the Montrose County Commissioners listened patiently to the crowd against placing a uranium mill in Paradox Valley. I was astounded by the number of people from the Bedrock/Paradox area of our county who stood up and made fools of themselves by not knowing the history of their own area.

Didn’t the real estate agent tell you that you bought property in a mining district? Didn’t they realize that on all four sides of your little area is one of the largest mining districts in the State of Colorado? And it’s not a former mining district, it’s an existing mining district. One poor woman, apparently knowing nothing about the valley, mentioned the pending cellular mutation of the Redd cattle and the destruction of the Swain Ranch as instances of what was to come if the mill was allowed to get any dust in the air.

Uh…excuse me, but your living in a mining district. There is radioactive dust in the air currently and has been since you set foot in the valley. I recently read a great book about Charlie Redd who, without investing in the boom, profited from the era and even rented his LaSal home to the manager of Homestake Mining Company. He shared the BLM property with the miners and grazed his cows right beside their mine dumps along LaSal creek and fed them hay from Paradox. The low-grade waste dumps are all around you.

And also there is the age-old story repeated often in our local paper about Thomas Swain who, in 1895, sent specimens of yellow carnotite to the British Museum. In 1906 Madam Curie sent a buyer to Paradox from France. The realtor didn’t tell you that? It’s one of our best stories.

To the southwest of your area is the Big Indian mining district where Charlie Steen hit his mother lode. Do you think he and all the 500 mines in your immediate area picked up every granule of ore. Of course not and still today the wind hurls it right down into your front yard. To the northwest of Paradox Polar Mesa in the Uravan mining belt where hundreds of low grade mine dumps dot the surface. It’s our history. When the price is down our people practically starve. When the price is up, we get busy and mine it.

As you drive the valley from Naturita, look to your left to see the road to the Nil Mine at the base of on Monogram Mesa. It’s one of several hundred. It is no longer in operation, but it could be, if the water was pumped out. Not too many years ago, the wastewater from the mines in that area, were pumped into ponds for cattle to drink. No one told you that? Water is constantly moving through that strata and has been for 20 million years. You should ask Energy Fuels if they could use that water in their mill. It would alleviate them drilling wells.

Another lady at Thursday’s meeting was sure earthquakes were going to erupt under the mill. Does she and her rude clapping followers not understand that 600 earthquakes were noted in the valley last year? The shaking of the earth certainly opens up tiny cracks in all the formations for surface water to penetrate the ground after it leaches through the 1,500 low-grade waste piles from former mines that surround Paradox Valley.

Energy Fuels reports the new mill will require 500 tons of ore per day. That’s PEANUTS. The mill at Uravan operated at 200 tons per hour, twenty-four hours per day. Understand also that only a small part of the yellow cake produced is radioactive. It has to be refined before it is dangerous. That is why it will be transported to Illinois. All you fools holding your breath when you drive through the former Uravan, should think about the natural dust blowing off the former and existing mines in the surrounding mining districts. Mining uranium and vanadium is what we do here in Montrose County.

Building a vanadium/uranium processing mill in Uravan was not a good idea, but it was the only existing site where the U.S. Government could quickly get their hands on processed yellow cake during World War II. It is the primary reason the folks in Paradox Valley are not speaking Japanese today. The tax money from uranium mining paid for building the schools in Nucla, Naturita and Paradox and it contributed to the Montrose high school. It was Western Colorado mining resources that built St. Mary’s hospital. Not farming and tourism. Grand Junction is an energy hub with rich history and great future potential.

Another fool at Thursday’s meeting stood up representing [a nearby resort] who is against the mill. That facility is smack dab in the middle of a uranium mining district and he should advise visitors that their facility was constructed in the Uravan Mining Belt and the dust on the back roads where they escort tourists is in a uranium mining district where many hundreds of mines once existed and are in operation currently. Didn’t anyone tell them there was radioactive mine dumps in the area before the developed the resort? I’m sure they knew some of the history. Their tourist attraction and museum has increased Gateway traffic in the narrow canyon as much as eight times. It alone has contributed to more deaths than any mining currently operating. They should put up a sign notifying everyone the surroundings are radioactive.

Lake Powell in southern Utah was constructed in a mining district and when it filled, the water covered up hundreds of high-grade uranium mines, but people still love to go there and the fish are doing well. The people downstream are born have five fingers per hand.

I agree that mistakes have been made back when the U.S. Government was the only authorized purchaser of yellow cake. But technology has drastically improved and we are now back under the free enterprise system and controls are in place. The President of the company submitting the applicant is George Glasier, and like Howard Hughes, he has been in the industry his entire career and has his whole life and reputation wrapped up in this project. The last recent catastrophic meltdown I can remember was on Wall Street and even though I don’t know George personally, I trust him more than the president of my own bank, who has virtually nothing to lose.

If the fanatic folks in Paradox Valley are really interested in clean air, they should concentrate their efforts to research large power plants back east that spew millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year along with thousands of tons of radioactive particles. You just can’t see them. AND there is no clean coal technology other than pumping CO2 into the ground.

I don’t own mining stocks, I don’t own mining claims and I don’t need a job. I simply have studied good science and know the history of western Montrose County. I want to tell Paradox Valley residents not to be sorry you moved here. They can be part of the global solution.

Tom Kyle, Norwood

A Number of Ways to Support Lunch Program


Thank you for your timely and well-written article on the Free and Reduced Meal Program for the Ridgway School District. A lunch committee was formed at the end of the 2008/2009 school year to help support the secondary school lunch program. We would like to encourage all parents that qualify to fill out the paperwork in their children’s packets. When students qualify for free and reduced lunch it helps out our lunch program financially. If you are not sure if you qualify, the school secretaries can help. The bottom line is the more students in the free and reduced meal program, the more revenue for Ridgway schools breakfast and lunch program.

With the 50-cent increase for the secondary school meals, the lunch committee decided to research the real cost of preparing bag lunches at home. It was found that a bag lunch that contained a PB&J sandwich with one carrot, one apple, one serving of Doritos and one serving of cookies, along with a small container of milk cost $2.92. A bag lunch that contained the above, exchanging a ham and cheese sandwich for the PB&J costs $3.74. At $3.00 for secondary student lunches this year, it’s still one of the best bargains around. And with all the wonderful, freshly prepared food that our school cooks serve, the nutritional value is outstanding.

Another way to support our food service program is for parents of children in the school to buy their own lunches at the school. The cost for adults for lunch is $5.00. The serving times are generally from 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. You may want to check before coming to the school around holidays and early release days.

We are so fortunate to live in this beautiful community and to have such thoughtful and hardworking folks feeding and teaching our children.


The Lunch Committee: Deb Willits, Michelle Kyne, Sheila Manzagol, Scott Middelton, Colleen Gardner, Denean Colby, Trisha Middelton, Andy Daley, and Kelly Lannan
Comments-icon Post a Comment
for the record
August 31, 2009
Actually, based on a survey using the assessor's parcel maps the majority of land owners and residents of Paradox Valley are opposed to the proposed uranium mill. Petitions with the signatures of this majority have been provided to the Montrose County Commissioners. So lets put an end to this lie that it is "only a few people" opposed to the mill and state the truth that it is the majority out here. The people in Nucla and Naturita don't live in the Paradox Valley, so their opinion counts no more or less than everyone else outside of the valley - you choose. By the way - most of the "new comers" have cleaned up this valley, while some of the "old timers" maintain pig styes. I'd much rather have the "new comers".
Nukes is a loser
August 28, 2009
Nuclear power has 4 seemingly insurmountable problems:

1. Security: If the 911 hijackers had driven those planes into Indian Point, half NY state would have been uninhabitable for three centuries.

2. Waste: No one has figured out where to put the deadly waste. Yucca Point is dead and no one is stepping up to take its place.

3. Proliferation: Nuke plants churn out enriched uranium--the key ingredient to nuclear bombs. Pakistan already has 50 and unless you've been comatose, you probably understand that it's not the most stable country. N. Korea... how many more countries do you want to have this stuff?

4. Cost: no insurance comps. will touch these plants--which is why they all require about $20 billion of the gov't dole.

In short, don't hang your hat on this one. "
August 28, 2009

You are so brave for putting your name on that comment. Wow. I am really flabbergasted. Awful Jackass.
Paradox resident
August 28, 2009
Mr. Kyle you are my HERO! You wrote an excellent letter and stated our situation very clearly.

Why can't the fearful anti mill folks get it through their heads that what Mr.Glazier said about radio activity already being everywhere is true? You get more radiation after a day in the sun "farming" or "recreating" than you will ever get from the Pinon Ridge Mill!

I believe we need a source of clean energy, meaning nuclear power plants which the rest of the world is already utilizing. I was dumbstruck at the article recently about Tri-States Power joining with New Mexico power company in the construction of a solar power "farm." 250 ACRES of solar panels to produce enough energy for 900 homes? That's utterly ridiculous! Who wants to look at 250 ACRES of solar panels? I thought we were supposed to be preserving nature?

Not afraid to sign my name,

Kris Sagrillo

Paradox CO

just sayin
August 22, 2009
I can respect how you feel but I don't see how if radioactive dust gets all stirred up by mining activity, it's not going to dust everyone down wind from the mine? Can't and won't dust carry radioactive particles to distant places? I guess we'd have radioactive dust on the snow, that's just great.

I live down valley in fall creek and if me or my family die from radioactive dust coming from some money making operation I'd be pi$$ed. Sorry to sound selfish but I'd like to ask the mining company to please take your radioactive $hit and do it somewhere where you'd want fish with 6 eyes and two heads. Or assure us and explain exactly how there are no health risks involved.

We've been duped by the banking industry, the auto industry, mortgage industry, etc.

I don't trust mining corporations. If my family's health and well being are on the line competing for some company profits then f$ck that.

August 21, 2009
Let me assure everyone that plenty of people in Paradox support the mine. Paradox and Naturita are equi-distant from the mine ... and Naturita is downwind.

There is just a small, vocal minority of people in Paradox and a bunch of outsiders from Telluride, Moab and Durango trying to dictate what goes on in the West End. They are waging a fear campaign, warning of death and destruction to people, water, air, wildlife, etc. ... all of that they say is either scientifically impossible or the risk so small that it shouldn't be considered. A single radioactive particle floating up from the eastern Paradox Valley to Telluride or Montrose? Really? Anyone who is afraid of this should live in a bubble in the basement of their house.

There are a few people who are against everything ... unless it is wind or solar or something. They are against mining, natural gas, oil, nuclear, coal, or any sort of development. We shouldn't let these radicals get in the way of reasonable projects like the mill.
August 20, 2009
It is so ironic to me that the majority of supporters of the Pinon Ridge Mill operation in Paradox don't actually live in Paradox. They come and state their opinions from Nucla, Naturita, Norwood, Montrose, and Grand Junction. They tell us how safe we are from the radiation caused by the process of uranium milling, they tell us all about the radiation that already exists (as if more is completely negligible) and yet I haven't heard one person from Paradox or Bedrock say the same things. It's easy to support the processing of radioactive materials and radioactive waste when it's not sitting in your own backyard. Having a differing opinion on the mill does not make a person a fool, it makes them a responsible, concerned citizen. If you were sitting at the meeting in Nucla did you also notice the fact that Energy Fuels refused to answer any direct question about the contamination of air in the valley? Every answer they gave said the same thing..."Radioactivity is everywhere" "The levels of radioactivity in Paradox are already above the governement allowed levels." Those are non-answers in the affirmative that mean they will be increasing the radioactivity in the area and have no concerns for the amount of radiation released by their work. And why should the residents of Paradox and Bedrock concentrate their efforts back East when there is a problem right here in their own backyard? Mining may have built Western Colorado, but it is farming that has kept it going. If not for the farmers who followed the miners when the first booms ended, towns along the Western Slope would have dried up and become ghost towns of the old West. Your attitude of "us or them" shows your own ignorance of the relationship between the two, not a lack of information on the part of the current landowners. I'm sick and tired of this "newcomers should just leave" attitude. If you want to adopt that attitude why don't you ask the Native American tribes what they think, apparently their thoughts will carry the most weight.