Montrose delays uranium mill decision

Montrose County’s Planning Commission late Wednesday night again delayed a decision on a proposed uranium mill but is expected to vote on the issue July 1.

Meeting in Montrose, the commission held a five-hour hearing on the proposed Pinon Ridge project in western Montrose County, following another one of similar length in May in Nucla.

An estimated 150 to 200 people showed up at this week’s meeting. Steve White, the county’s planning and development director, said probably 50 to 60 people spoke. A number of sign-waving people on both sides of the issue lined up outside Wednesday’s meeting venue before the proceedings.

“They stood there for a good 30 minutes, kind of staring each other down with their signs,” said White, who described both sides as being respectful.

Energy Fuels Resources Corp. is seeking to process locally mined uranium and vanadium ore on 880 acres off Colorado Highway 90 about 12 miles west of Naturita and seen miles east of Bedrock.

In both meetings, a majority of speakers supported the uranium mill, particularly because of its potential economic benefits. Others raised concerns over possible dangers, water-consumption consequences and other matters.

White said the Planning Commission is seeking to address some of those concerns by suggesting additional conditions of approval.

One would require the company to monitor water consumption and provide mitigation if neighboring landowners’ water sources are depleted.

Another would make clear that hazardous materials from elsewhere couldn’t come onto the site.

“We don’t want to take somebody else’s nuclear waste that someone else might have in another state or another country and store it here,” White said.

He said no more public comment will be taken July 1, and the commission will proceed to deliberations on the proposal.


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