Waste-disposal plan wins initial approval

An evaporation pond and land farm adjacent to the uranium mill tailings disposal site south of Whitewater won preliminary approval Tuesday from the Mesa County Commission.

The commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the proposed 160-acre Indian Mesa solid-waste disposal facility that commissioners said was in a nearly perfect location.

Residents of Bean Ranch Road, about two miles away, begged to differ.

“I am concerned that Whitewater is being perceived as a dumping ground,” Bean Ranch Road resident Doris Janowski said, citing the proximity of the Mesa County Landfill, a mill-tailings site, Mesa State College’s body farm and the Indian Mesa solid-waste disposal facility. “As a landowner, I don’t think that bodes well for me.”

None of the residents of Bean Ranch Road had received official notification of the Indian Mesa project because the area is outside the county’s notification radius.

Commission Chairman Craig Meis said that highlighted one of the main advantages of the proposal: its isolation. The site is 17 miles south of Grand Junction, a mile east of U.S. Highway 50 and four miles north of the Delta County line.

To keep control of the development, the commission and Thomas Cronk of Indian Mesa Inc. agreed that Indian Mesa would develop the northern half of the project, including as many as six evaporation ponds and 40 acres to be used as a land farm for low-contamination drilling materials.

Such a facility has been needed since the 2008 closure of the Black Mountain evaporation pond near De Beque, which left only an evaporation pond business at Cisco, Utah, Cronk said.

The Indian Mesa ponds will serve drilling projects along the Interstate 70 corridor, Cronk said.

The county’s approval of a conditional-use permit for the project is the first step of a process that Cronk said he hopes can be complete in two years with a certificate of designation from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Mesa County.

Once in operation, the facility will employ eight to 15 people directly and as many as 100 truck drivers who will deliver water to the evaporation ponds, Cronk said.

When Indian Mesa decides to develop the south half of its project, that will trigger a staff review of the project to determine whether it is causing odors or water-quality problems, the commission decided.


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