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Longmont Daily Times-Call

Publish Date: 11/21/2007


Medical society opposes uranium mining plans


By Ann Depperschmidt

Loveland Reporter-Herald

The Colorado Medical Society has added its name to a growing list of opposition to a proposed uranium mine about 10 miles northeast of Fort Collins.

On Friday, the Colorado Medical Society’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the Larimer County Medical Society in its opposition to a planned uranium mine between the towns of Wellington and Nunn.

“Without a doubt, the medical society believes (the proposed mine) is a mistake,” said Dr. Cory Carroll, who serves on the board and is also the president of the Larimer County Medical Society.

Powertech Uranium Corp., the company that owns mineral rights to the area, is working to get proper permits in order to begin mining operations in 2010.

The state medical society board cited uranium mining’s potential health risks in making its decision.

Powertech has said repeatedly that mining operations will be safe, will not contaminate the environment, and will have the proper governmental oversight to prevent any problems.

But the proposed mine, called the Centennial Project, has not received a warm welcome in Northern Colorado.

A group of opponents, Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction, has been hosting meetings and soliciting petitions to raise awareness about the mine and its potential health and environmental effects. Almost 5,000 people have signed the group’s petition, which is tracked on the group’s Web site.

Politicians also have gotten involved in the opposition. U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican who serves the proposed mine’s area, has spoken out against the plan, and Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., has asked federal agencies to look into the mine’s effect on water quality.

Two Larimer County Democrats, State Reps. Randy Fischer and John Kefalas, are drafting a bill they say would improve out-of-date mining rules. And Larimer County’s Environmental Advisory Board is studying possible effects on air, land and water associated with uranium mining.

Still, Powertech officials say uranium mining is necessary to fuel the growing need for nuclear power.

“As we have said time and time again, we expect the regulatory process to play itself out,” said Pete Webb, a spokesman for Powertech.

The Larimer County Medical Society now plans to seek support from the American Medical Society in opposing the plans.



Uranium mining information

Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction: www.nunnglow.com

Powertech Uranium Corp.: www.powertechuranium.com

Colorado State University’s Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences has developed a Web site to provide scientific information about uranium mining. The department does not advocate for or against uranium mining. www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/erhs/ uranium_mining_info.htm

Powertech’s Plans

Powertech Uranium Corp., a Canadian-based company, plans to mine uranium on 5,760 acres between the towns of Wellington and Nunn. The proposed mine, called the Centennial Project, is expected to produce more than 4,750 tons of uranium — enough nuclear power plant fuel to serve the residential power needs of a city the size of Fort Collins for 150 years, Powertech officials say.

Powertech plans to use a process called in-situ mining to extract the uranium.

The process involves pumping treated water into uranium-laced deposits, which dissolves the mineral so the uranium can be pumped to the surface. Then the uranium is removed from the water and the water is returned to the area.

Opponents say the process will contaminate Front Range water supplies and pollute the area with harmful amounts of radiation.

If Powertech receives the proper permits on schedule, the company will begin mining in 2010.