In response to the letter by Mr. Tom Kyle from Norwood, I am Marie Moore and I have been a resident of Paradox for 17 years. I am the “poor woman” you referred to in your letter and who you accused of speaking for some of the farmers and ranchers in the Paradox Valley at the hearing for the Special Use Permit for the Uranium Mill on August 13th. I gave a list of farms in the Paradox Valley. I did not say that I was representing any of those farms or the stance that any of those ranchers and farmers have about the mill. They can speak for themselves, and many of them did. I said that if there is contamination or stigma from the milling and mining of uranium it could affect all of the farmers and ranchers here and their ability to gain their livelihood. It could. I was not speaking for the Paradox Valley Sustainability Association either.
I have studied about the history of this area and I would like to point out that farming and ranching existed here before mining and milling. In his article Mr. Kyle failed to mention about the “Legacy of Death” which was also part of the history of the uranium industry in this area. He failed to mention about the many cancer and lung disease deaths in people working for an industry that lied to the public about the dangers and risks involved. He failed to mention that our government has paid out millions of dollars for restitution to families who suffered because someone in the family (usually the breadwinner) had died from cancer or lung disease from working in this industry. Which, for those in this area who say that uranium mining and milling do not cause cancer – that it was just because the workers smoked – tell me, why have you all accepted the money from our government which was paid to you because our government has determined that those people died from cancer and lung disease because of working with radioactive materials? If uranium doesn’t cause cancer it seems to me everyone who has benefited from the restitution money are fraudulent and should return the money. No one gets restitution just because they die of cancer from smoking.
Yes, we have earthquakes here often, and earthquakes can crack brittle liners and cause leaching of contaminants into the groundwater. Mr. Kyle, you seem almost proud of the fact that the mining companies in the past had no consciousness about the contamination they left behind for our tax payers to pay to get cleaned up.
I know that people in Nucla and Naturita need jobs. Presently the BLM received stimulus money for doing mine closures of many of the mines west of Paradox. These jobs have just come up for bid and there will be more in the next year. Contact for information about this is Barney Buria at the BLM office in Montrose 240-5333. He mentioned to me that the mine closures are being done because of the accidents and deaths that have happened when people have driven ATV’s into mines and fallen down mine shafts, etc. Getting the mines closed and the mess cleaned up that was left behind by the mining companies that pulled out leaving mine tailings to blow in the wind will lessen any contamination that would blow around now. I have had people make readings for radioactivity on my property in Paradox and the readings were only .002 points above the national average. Considering that we are at 5,200 ft. above sea level and considering that the higher you go the readings get higher, I think we can say that there is either no or very little contamination from uranium at this time where I live.
The history of mining and milling makes excellent material for tourism when it is past history and no longer threatens people’s health and well being. Naturita has beautiful river frontage and is on Hwy. 141, upon which many tourists travel. I cannot understand why residents in Nucla and Naturita want to resurrect the uranium industry that caused so much death and sickness there when they have the opportunity to bring tourism into their towns as a way to make money. For those who want to build houses to bring into this area workers for the mill and mines, wouldn’t building cabins for tourists to stay by the riverside bring in more money in reality? (I thought the mill would employ locals so why do we need houses to bring in outsiders? Or would there be few jobs in reality for locals?) If you read the report done by the Sonoran Institute for Gateway Canyons, tourism is the business that has had a steady increase in revenues for this area for many years. Why are the residents of Nucla and Naturita not realizing that tourism has made Telluride, Moab, Gateway, and partially Grand Junction and Montrose prosper? Isn’t it time that the West End partake in the tourism prosperity? The history of mining and milling, the farming and ranching, the hunting and fishing and outdoor recreation, rafting on the river, the bicyclists, the rock climbers, gift shops, restaurants, retirees and tourism all support and benefit each other, so why not make the Western Slope a unified whole in supporting those activities for gaining a livelihood?
The stigma and contamination of the mining and milling is in direct opposition to the flourishing of all of the above-mentioned ways of making a living. So do we continue a history of not caring about each other and just trying to get for ourselves or do we look at the whole region and make our choices based on what will benefit everyone?
– Marie Moore, Paradox Deny Special Use Permit for Uranium Mill
To the Montrose County Board of County Commissioners:
I am writing to urge you to deny the Special Use Permit application for the proposed Pinon Ridge Uranium Mill. Development of a uranium mill will unfairly devalue the properties of existing landowners in the Paradox Valley. It will provide a short-term revenue source for 85 locals, but when this industry collapses, what will future generations of the region do for a living? Right now, people of the Nucla and Naturita area enjoy the income from boaters on the Dolores River and other recreationalists, such as rock climbers and road cyclists. There is potential for exponential revenue growth in the region given the history and scenic beauty of Paradox Valley, the climate, and the natural amenities. Should residents create some mountain bike trails and choose to provide tours of rock art and wild horses, etc., their economic well-being would be guaranteed. People will come and spend money and appreciate and protect the region.
I don't think it is fair to cater to the interests of a small group of people, i.e. those who seek jobs in the proposed mill, while polluting the air, soil and water that the rest of us who live in the Southwest are working so hard to keep clean. The dangers that uranium mills pose are evident when you research what has occurred in Canõn City or when you consider the enormous costs to taxpayers to reclaim mill sites at Uravan, Vanadium, and Moab. Why would the government undergo such huge clean-up efforts if the impacts of uranium mills were not harmful? The uranium industry has already boomed and busted more than once in the Southwest. Why not endorse a healthy, long-term industry such as generating solar power in Paradox? This would create jobs and harm no one.
Please look to the future, be courageous, and do not cave to political pressures from special interest groups. You have a responsibility not only to the people of Naturita, Nucla, and neighboring towns, but also to their children who will inherit a polluted land and greater socio-economic woes than their parents.
– Rhonda Claridge, Ophir