Telluride poised to join lawsuit against uranium mill permit

Telluride as early as today could try to intervene in a lawsuit attacking a hazardous-materials-handling permit for a proposed uranium mill in Montrose County.

The Telluride Town Council this month retained a Washington, D.C.-based public-interest law firm, Public Justice, to represent the town in the case. The retainer will cost up to $25,000 a year, Telluride Town Attorney Kevin Geiger said, calling it a “fairly generous” offer from Public Justice.

“It’s considerably less than we would have to spend” on the kind of litigation involved, Geiger said.

Telluride shouldn’t be involved at all, said Curtis Moore, director of communications and legal affairs for Energy Fuels Resources, which is seeking to build the $150 million mill near Naturita.

“Of course, Telluride can spend their money however they see fit,” Moore said, “However, if I were a taxpayer, I’d be very concerned about spending money on a small project that is over 60 miles away, in a different county, and has clearly been proven to have no effects on the town. I’d think the money the town is spending on a D.C. law firm would be better spent on local roads, utilities, schools and affordable housing.”

Geiger disagreed on several points.

“It’s fairly clear that the deposition of radioactive nuclei in the town’s water supply” constitutes a threat to the supply, Geiger said.

Telluride maintains it is about 50 miles from the proposed mill.

Telluride will file an affidavit listing the potential harm to the town in seeking to intervene in the case, Geiger said.

In the lawsuit in Denver District Court, the Sheep Mountain Alliance is suing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, challenging the department’s issuance of the radioactive-materials-handling permit.

If the permit stands and Energy Fuels obtains other outstanding permits, the mill would be the first in the United States in three decades.


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