Penry joins opposition to storage
By GARY HARMON
State Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, has asked U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to explain why the federal agency wants new mercury storage sites.
“Why not simply expand the Tennessee facility which houses some 1,200 tons” of mercury already, Penry wrote to Chu in a letter last week.
The Department of Energy is considering seven locations in the United States, including the Grand Junction Disposal site 18 miles south of the city, for a place to store thousands of tons of mercury in sealed steel flasks.
Penry, the Colorado Senate minority leader, is a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor against incumbent Democrat Bill Ritter.
Ritter on Thursday said he opposed storing mercury in Grand Junction, a day after state Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said he opposed the storage proposal.
Former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, a Grand Junction Republican who also is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, opposes the proposal.
McInnis agreed with King, who said he was persuaded by the Energy Department’s promise that the western Colorado site would be used only for the burial of uranium mill tailings, said McInnis spokesman Mike Hesse.
“We felt our point of view was reflected” in King’s comments, Hesse said.
Penry picked up on the same theme in his letter, asking whether the mercury proposal is consistent with federal promises made in 1996.
Penry also sought “any estimate” of the potential short- and long-term benefits of mercury storage and an explanation of the issues surrounding transportation of mercury across the country.