Opponents: Redraw plan for uranium development
The U.S. Department of Energy should go back to the beginning and reconsider the options available for the management of 25,000 acres in the Uravan Mineral Belt, environmental activists said.
The Energy Department is conducting public hearings on its plans for the land, which is divided into 31 leases.
Under the preferred alternative in the study, the Energy Department would continue with its leasing program for 10-year periods. Another option calls for the agency to restore the land, which at one time was home to as many as 20 operating mines, and to cease leasing.
The department should reconsider its entire approach, Janet Johnson of Western Colorado Congress said at a public hearing in Grand Junction, because the current one is “dismissive” of the history of the last 40 years in western Colorado, which has seen booms and busts in the uranium-driven economy.
The land should be handed over to the Bureau of Land Management, Eric Rechel of the Sierra Club said, noting that “there is no safe level of radiation.” Rechel called for lease agreements to require $2 billion in cleanup bonds.
The Energy Department should continue managing the land in the west end of Montrose County, Glenn Miller of Grand Junction said, favoring continued leasing. Nuclear energy is safer than solar, wind, hydroelectric and coal per megawatt, Miller said.
The Energy Department will conduct public hearings tonight in Telluride and Thursday in Naturita.
Officials will try to consider comments made after the deadline to the extent that it’s possible, Plieness said.