A hearing officer's recent ruling against the proposed PiƱon Ridge uranium mill near Naturita isn't the final word on the project, one of the owners said.

Environmental organizations, however, hailed the finding by hearing officer Richard Dana, who recommended that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment deny a permit for the milling of radioactive materials.

"I feel the state has no choice but to formally deny" the permit for the mill, said Jennifer Thurston of the Information Network for Responsible Mining, calling the ruling "clear and definitive."

Dana found in an April 17 ruling based on hearings he conducted six years ago that Energy Fuels Resources, which originally applied for the permit, had failed to show it had adequate water for operations, could limit groundwater contamination and the dispersion of radioactive materials, and prevent threats to animals, birds and plants in the vicinity of the site.

"It's just an advisory opinion," and the state agency, which previously permitted the mill, isn't bound by it, said George Glasier, who at one time headed Energy Fuels Resources, and who now heads an investor group that owns the mill license.

The mill already had been found to have "more than met" all the technical requirements that state officials established, Glasier said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a radioactive-materials license in 2011. Environmental groups challenged the permit, leading to Dana's appointment.

The state agency now has to consider what, if anything, to do with the permit.

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