Posts Tagged ‘uranium’

from HaulNo.org

Energy Fuels Inc. is planning to poison the Grand Canyon including the precious Colorado River. Are we going to let our future be poisoned for thousands of generations by this greedy corporation? We say, “Haul no!”

#HaulNo! is an awareness & action tour that is being planned for Spring 2017 throughout Northern Arizona and Southern Utah along the proposed uranium haul route from Energy Fuel’s Canyon Mine to its White Mesa Mill. Volunteers from organizations such as Diné No Nukes, Clean Up The Mines, Grand Canyon Trust, and concerned community members have joined forces to spread awareness and empower action to ensure that the Grand Canyon, sacred sites, precious water, and our communities are safeguarded from the deadly and toxic threat of uranium contamination.

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Spill at Cotter Mill lets loose up to 9,000 gallons of toxic water

Contamination allegedly “restricted to Cotter property”

By Shelby Kinney-Lang, Colorado Independent

As much as 9,000 gallons of uranium-contaminated water from underground pipes spilled onto Cotter property south of Cañon City on Tuesday, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Officials say no members of the public have so far been exposed to the spill.

Cotter Corporation informed the health department of the leaking pipes on Tuesday in a “verbal report” delivered over the phone. No health department personnel have inspected the spill site, as yet, and no formal report has yet been filed. Cotter said it will let the contaminated ground dry before excavating and repairing the pipe.

From the beginning of its operations in 1958, Cotter’s uranium mill site near Cañon City has visited a plague of leaks, spills and contamination to the area. The company has wracked up a long series of fines. Uranium mining is a dirty business that frequently results in environmental degradation and risks to public safety. In the past, government oversight of the Cotter property has been lax, turning on self reporting by the company. Community groups have been frustrated by the what they characterize as the meager information Cotter releases on its operations.

“We’ve got a company looking to walk away from a problem without actually cleaning it up,” said Travis E. Stills, an energy and conservation lawyer who has been working with community groups in Cañon City since the mid-2000s. Stills represents Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste on several ongoing state open records suits that seek information that passed between Cotter, the state health department and the Environmental Protection Agency concerning the uranium mill and the Lincoln Park Superfund Site, but which health department withheld from public review.

Uranium is extraordinarily toxic. The health department reports that if the pipe did in fact leak 9,000 gallons, the concentration in the water of uranium would be 834 micrograms per liter and the concentration of molybdenum, also a toxic chemical, would be 2,018 micrograms per liter. For perspective, the EPA places the health safety level of uranium at 30 micrograms per liter.

“This is water that they’ve sucked out of the ground, and they’re pumping back to evaporate,” said the health department’s Edgar Ethington.

In fact, he said, the contamination is not new. The leak comes in a pipe used to pump contaminated water from the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) Dam pumpback to ponds on the Cotter property where the contamination will slowly return to solid form. He made the release sound simple.

“They got a hole in the pipe and it leaked back into the ground,” he said.
Warren Smith, community involvement manager in the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division of the department, insisted there was no danger to public health.

“There is no public health risk here, because there is no exposure to the public,” Smith said. “Health risk depends on two factors: the release and exposure. If there’s no receptor to be exposed to it, where’s the risk?”

Smith said that the health department performs regular inspections of the Cotter site. The most recent was a September inspection. Because the pipe was buried, Smith said it would be a stretch to “characterize it as an [inspection] oversight.”

Smith said it would be a serious lapse if Cotter had failed to report the spill. Inspections don’t occur often enough for the state to have happened upon the spill any time soon.

“A lot of this is performance based,” Ethington said. “You expect a breakdown from time to time. You just have to make sure the breakdown does not result in a release that gets off-site.”

The Cotter site is not operational. Most of the buildings have been demolished. Yet spills are a regular occurence. The process of closing the mill has been in the works for years, as community groups, the EPA, and Cotter see-saw through negotiations on what the cleanup will look like. That’s why the trickling information from Cotter frustrates interested locals.

“We should be getting immediate, actionable, good information on the agency’s website so the community can understand what’s going on,” said Stills. “We keep hearing back from the CDPHE that there is no problem there, and we can just leave the place and go on, without cleaning up the ground water, and without doing a full cleanup of the site.”

Stills said the community group in Cañon is working “to get some real clean-up, that doesn’t allow General Atomic, which owns Cotter, to walk away and leave a contaminated neighborhood in its wake.”

Paradox Valley uranium mill on hold

Posted: September 8, 2013 by earthfirstdurango in environmental justice, mining, uranium
Tags: ,
The proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill would sit on the flat land in the foreground in this view of the Paradox Valley, in between Naturita and the hamlet of Paradox, in Montrose County.

The proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill would sit on the flat land in the foreground in this view of the Paradox Valley, in between Naturita and the hamlet of Paradox, in Montrose County.

Some analysts doubt it will ever be built

By Joe Hanel, The Durango Herald

A proposed uranium mill in Southwest Colorado will not be built unless there is an unexpected turnaround in the price of uranium, the president of the company that is developing the mill said Friday in a conference call with investors.

Energy Fuels Resources Inc. will keep holding its license to build the Piñon Ridge uranium mill in the Paradox Valley of Montrose County, but it has no plans to act on the license, said President and CEO Stephen Antony.

“We intend to keep that license in a current, valid form, but not move on construction of the mill until market conditions support it,” Antony said.

The statement is old news to uranium experts, but it comes as a surprise to some Coloradans.

The company’s Piñon Ridge website says, “Energy Fuels anticipates starting construction in late 2012 or 2013.” And its plan on file with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment calls for the mill west of Naturita to be operational by early 2017, with construction beginning in 2015.

Warren Smith, a community involvement manager for the state health department, said Energy Fuels has not contacted his department with any plans to deviate from the schedule it has submitted. The license is valid for five years.

But uranium market analysts have known since Energy Fuels bought the White Mesa uranium mill in Utah that the company has put Piñon Ridge on the back burner. In fact, the company said so itself in a little-noticed statement in December 2012. It came in an annual report filed with financial regulators in Canada, where Energy Fuels is incorporated.

From Al Jazeera, by The Stream Team:

The vast reserves of uranium under Navajo Land have shaped the experiences of generations of Navajo, from the miners who were first employed to extract and refine the yellow ore to the families who still live with radioactive waste sites in their backyards. Approximately four million tons of uranium ore were extracted on Navajo Land between 1944 and 1986, and the Navajo people are still paying a steep price.

The Navajo Nation spans the Four Corners area, where the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet. When the US Atomic Energy Commission announced in 1948 that it would buy all uranium mined in the country, private corporations set up thousands of mines on Navajo Land.

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no uraniumUranium-mining concerns seek Navajo Nation projects

SHIPROCK, N.M. – Uranium-mining companies are showing signs of renewed interest in the Navajo Nation.

The Daily Times of Farmington reported that several companies during the past year have addressed the tribe, seeking permission to once again mine the tribe’s uranium-rich land.

The history of uranium in the area, however, is proving an obstacle.

“As you can guess, there is opposition. There’s no doubt about that,” said Albuquerque’s Mat Leuras, vice president of corporate development for Uranium Resources Inc.

In addition, several environmental studies have suggested that elevated levels of uranium in and around the mines caused health problems for the people working in and living around them.

The Navajo Nation sits on more than 70 million tons of naturally occurring uranium, a radioactive ore.

Uranium mining companies maintain that history will not repeat itself, especially since they are using advanced technologies and take more precautions.

The tribe still is reeling from the nearly 30 years that the federal government allowed uranium mining on and around the Navajo Nation. Between the late 1940s and the mid-1980s, about four million tons of uranium were extracted from the Navajo Nation.

At the time, uranium was mined to produce nuclear weapons for World War II and the Cold War.

The ore was removed via conventional underground mining, a practice that allowed uranium to seep into the land and water in the surrounding area.

“The industry’s learned its lesson,” Leuras said.

While the companies will not be able to extract the uranium within tribal boundaries, they might be able to get at the uranium deposits near them.

The tribe banned uranium mining on its land in 2005, though federal government has jurisdiction on Navajo Trust Land and in the “checkerboard” of Indian and non-Indian land. The trust land is land generally saved for the tribe, and the checkerboard is intermixed federal, state and tribal ownership.

Many of the companies already have secured mineral rights in the checkerboard area.

Uranium companies such as Uranium Resources Inc., Strathmore Minerals Corp., Rio Grande Resources and Laramide Resources Ltd. all have investments around the reservation boundaries. In some instances, however, the companies do need access on the Navajo Nation just to get to their projects.

Also see:  Uranium miners lobby Navajo for renewed access in New Mexico

Uranium mill appeal is denied

DENVER – An environmental group has lost its request for the state to deny a license for a proposed uranium mill in southwestern Colorado.

The Denver Post reported that Colorado health department director Chris Urbina on Thursday denied the appeal by Sheep Mountain Alliance but said the group’s testimony will be considered as officials decide whether to grant Energy Fuels a radioactive materials license for the mill.

The health department originally issued a radioactive materials license in 2011 for the company’s proposed Piñon Ridge uranium and vanadium mill near Nucla, but after legal challenges, it was forced to hold full public hearings on the issue last year. Sheep Mountain Alliance wanted health officials to deny a license after the hearings.

A final decision about the license is expected in April.

A year ago, Energy Fuels bought the U.S. assets of its rival Denison Mines, which includes an operational uranium mill in Southeast Utah.