County Unhappy With State Response to Nuclear Regulatory Commission
by Gus Jarvis
Apr 12, 2012 | 1098 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SAN MIGUEL COUNTY – In a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper dated April 5, the San Miguel Board of County Commissioners voiced displeasure with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s “stridently adversarial” response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s recent finding that the state’s hearing process for the licensing of the Piñon Ridge uranium mill in the Paradox Valley did not comply with federal laws under the Atomic Energy Act.

The letter stated that the board “continues to have concerns” about the proposed uranium mill that were not adequately addressed in the hearing process conducted by the CDPHE, and that it hopes to share those concerns “when a full public process is allowed.”

San Miguel County’s letter comes while the CDPHE defends itself in a lawsuit filed by mill opponents over concerns of its approval process. It also comes after the NRC not only substantiated the claims by mill opponents in the lawsuit but also after the NRC offered corrective suggestions that include clarifying the state’s regulatory language that announce opportunity for the public to comment and request public hearings for all uranium mill licensing as well as working with Energy Fuels to provide “an opportunity for a public hearing regarding the issuance of a new license” of the Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill.

Dr. Christopher Urbina, executive director and chief medical officer at the CDPHE, called the NRC finding an “outrage,” adding that the insertion of the NRC finding at this stage of the approval was unwarranted.

It is this response to the NRC that has the San Miguel County commissioners particularly concerned.

“Dr. Christopher Urbina has responded defensively in a March 16th letter calling the NRC findings ‘an outrage’ and ‘stunningly inconsistent,’” the board’s letter to Hickenlooper stated. “But since when is it an outrage or stunningly inconsistent to require state agencies to comply with Federal law? Rather than lashing out at our Federal partners, CDPHE ought to be trying to figure out a way to work with Federal agencies to correct any deficiencies in their licensing process. Not attacking them publicly.”

gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com or @gusgusj

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