I am writing to express my extreme opposition to the proposed Pinon Ridge Uranium Mill. I urge you to consider all the negative environmental and health impacts not only on the Paradox Valley but also on the entire region and downwind neighbors such as Telluride. When you are reviewing the application, please consider the following:
* The mill will have a devastating effect on our air quality and drinking water. Global warming and the rising temperature of the oceans are creating more frequent and powerful wind events. This does not bode well for the Telluride area as we are downwind of the mill site. This means that, whenever we have a windy day, radioactive deposits will blow this direction, hit the mountains and land in our snow pack, lakes, and rivers. Given that our water in Telluride, Ophir and Mountain Village comes from the snowpack and open reservoirs, this could be devastating to our health and the wildlife in the region. How will this affect the health of our young children in critical developmental stages? This is a risk to great to take.
∗ The mill’s waste pools will be lined with liners that are unproven. There has never been a liner used in any mill that has not leaked. This means radioactive waste will flow directly into the rivers down below us wreaking havoc on human and animal populations. The radioactive life of uranium is 4.47 billion years. This isn’t a big deal if the uranium is locked in rock. It is a big deal once it’s released into rivers and lakes and oceans where it doesn’t belong.
∗ The Mill will require 300 gallons of water per minute. Our water supply is already a precious resource that is in high demand and short supply. This water will be pulled from our rivers and trucked from the Dolores River.
∗ Although advocates of the mill argue that the Uranium mill will provide a boost to the economies of Naturita and Nucla through the creation of jobs, this argument doesn’t really stand up. Historically the uranium industry operates on a boom and bust cycle. When the uranium spot price is low (l it has been hovering around $40/pound for the past year) operations shut down and jobs and revenues are lost. Currently, only one uranium mill operates in the U.S., the White Mesa mill in Blanding, Utah. Owned by Denison Mines, White Mesa Mill employed roughly half of its staff during most of 2009. Denison claims that the price must be at least $65 per pound for revenue generating operations. Although the uranium price fluctuates, it has not stayed high for more than one year since 1980.
Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on constructing a new uranium mill, wouldn’t it make more sense to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on reclamation and clean-up efforts or developing renewable and safe energy sources like wind or solar? Creating jobs for these purposes would certainly provide a boost to the depressed towns on the west end. If this uranium mill is approved, Telluride will be changed forever. Some change is good but this is one change that I can live without.
Thank you for your consideration,
– Annie Carlson, Telluride