Telluride enters fight against uranium mill

The town of Telluride has hired a Washington, D.C., law firm to prevent the construction of a uranium mill 50 miles away.

Telluride jumped into the challenge to the state’s granting of a radioactive-materials permit to the mill, citing threats to air and water quality.

The Sheep Mountain Alliance already filed suit in Denver District Court, challenging the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s issuance of the permit.

Intervention in the legal proceedings will provide Telluride “with a formal voice in a deeply flawed licensing process,” the town and the law firm, Washington, D.C.-based Public Justice, said in a news release.

Attorneys for the Health Department and Energy Fuels Resources declined to comment about whether they would dispute the town’s standing to enter the lawsuit. The town’s announcement, however, claimed some “impacts that haven’t been demonstrated,” said Curtis Moore, director of communications and legal affairs for Energy Fuels.

Travis Stills of the Energy Minerals Law Center in Durango, which represents the Sheep Mountain Alliance, said he couldn’t comment on Telluride joining in the case via Public Justice, which bills itself as a national public-interest law firm “that fights injustice and holds corporate and government wrongdoers accountable.”

Calls to Public Justice were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Stills questioned, however, whether Energy Fuels has the wherewithal to complete the mill, which is estimated to cost $150 million. Energy Fuels still needs to obtain an air-quality permit from the state and a permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its tailings cells.

The company “still has a lot of very difficult work to do,” Stills said, referring to Energy Fuels as a “promotional-level Toronto company.”

Energy Fuels already has invested $30 million into the project, Moore said.

“That’s a lot of money for an alleged fly-by-night company,” Moore said, noting that while Energy Fuels stock is traded on the Toronto stock exchange, “where most mining companies are located,” Energy Fuels “is a Colorado company.”

No hearing has been scheduled in the case.


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