On January 21, an amazing thing happened. In spite of the snowy weather, 300 people (per the Montrose Daily Press) took time away from their families to support the Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill. For those of you that don’t live here, 300 people represents a large percentage of the West End population. It was a truly impressive showing of community unity, as nearly all 300 people were there to support the mill.
We understand there are people who will never be convinced this mill is a good idea. Yet, these people are stuck in the past, thinking nothing has changed since the 1950s. But, think about the 1950s. Cars had no seat belts. Black and white TVs were state-of-the-art. Computers were the size of large rooms.
And, uranium was produced with no regulations or safety precautions. Waste was dumped directly into rivers. Tailings ponds were unlined. Mines were unventilated. This cannot happen in the 21st century.
Mill opponents like to point to the Cotter Mill in Canon City as an example of problems at a “modern” uranium facility. This is highly misleading. Cotter’s continuing problems are the result of things that happened decades ago. They continue to have groundwater issues because the early tailings were placed in unlined impoundments over shallow groundwater. This cannot happen now.
The West End knows what this mill means – safe jobs and opportunity for us and our kids. However, the mill has also taken on a symbolic quality. The mill represents victory for our economically challenged area. It shows that we are not helpless victims of a bad economy. It is a classic David vs. Goliath story, as we stand up to well-funded national environmentalist organizations. Most importantly, it shows the world that a united community can take control of its own destiny and triumph.