Uranium mill permit tossed; hearings set

Both sides of the debate on a proposed uranium mill near Naturita will have a court-ordered hearing on the mill in November.

The hearing before an administrative law judge was ordered by Denver District Judge John McMullen, who also invalidated the radioactive materials-handling license that was issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued to Energy Fuels Resources Inc. for the mill.

An environmental organization, the Sheep Mountain Alliance, the towns of Telluride and Ophir, and others filed suit to reverse the Pinyon Ridge mill’s license, questioning the process followed by the state agency.

“We are pleased that the public will finally get a formal chance to scrutinize this proposal,” Hilary White, executive director of the Sheep Mountain Alliance, said in a statement. “As a party in this hearing process, we will continue to ensure that the clean air and clean water of this region are protected.”

The hearing originally was to have been conducted by mid-September, but the date was extended during negotiations among the parties, Curtis Moore, director of legal affairs and communications for Energy Fuels Resources, said.

“Let me say, we’ll be ready for the hearing,” Moore said.

The hearing will include cross-examination of witnesses and could extend from Nov. 7 to Nov. 13.

Nothing has changed in Energy Fuels’ case for the license, Moore said.

The deadline for the licensing decision is April 27, 2013.

The hearing will open Oct. 15 for the introduction of written testimony and exhibits. Public comment will be taken on Nov. 7 during an 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. session at the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge in Nucla, 1045 Main St.

Energy Fuels is seeking to construct the first uranium mill in the United States in more than 25 years in anticipation that the supply of uranium from the former Soviet Union for the generation of electricity will run out in 2013. The mill also will process vanadium, which is used in the steelmaking process.

Opponents of the mill contend that it poses a threat to air and water supplies.


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