Full disclosure shouldn't be problem for uranium industry

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 9:08 AM EDT

If uranium mining is so safe as that company says it is, then company and its supporters should be able to list all the possible problems of mining and milling and waste as they understand them to the press and the citizens of Virginia without delay.

Full disclosure shouldn't be a problem.

And if there were any kind of accidents, who actually would be responsible for cleaning up the mess, and how they would do it. And when they would do it.

The ones that actually do the work, not the ones that do town hall meetings.

Phillip Barr

New Mexico

Study in Spain and Romania Confirms Radon as Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer

Exposure to radon gas in homes is second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, according to a study carried out by researchers from the University of Cantabria and the Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. The team has studied data on exposure to this element in a uranium mining area in Transylvania and in an area of granite in Torrelodones, Madrid.

The authors estimated the death rate due to lung cancer attributable to radon and smoking in the areas studied between 1994 and 2006, using population data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), and data on radon exposure conditions and related risks taken from European epidemiological studies. The result was double that which would have been expected based on a relative risk report produced in 2006 for the whole of Europe on cancer incidence and mortality.

This represents the concentrations of radon in Torrelodones houses. WHO recommends no more than 100 Bq/m3. (Sainz et al./ SINC)

In order to carry out their study, authors used detectors to measure radon levels in 91 homes in the town over several months, as well as asking residents about their habits, such as whether or not they were smokers. The data were processed using a complex IT programme (European Community Radon Software), and the lung cancer death rate expectancy based estimated were made based on the INE data and various European reports.

WHO reduces recommended radon limits

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had previously recommended not exceeding 1.000 becquerels (Bq – the unit used to measure radioactive activity) of radon per cubic metre inside homes. However, last week, the WHO released a guide on this subject, in which it sets a new limit of 100 Bq/m3. Torrelodones study shows that radon in more than half of the homes there is in excess of this amount.

Sainz points out that radon is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas generated by the decay of uranium-238 (a natural radioactive element present in all rocks and soil in varying degrees). “It is much more abundant in granite areas, such as Torrelodones and other areas in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, such as parts of Galicia, Salamanca and Cáceres”, explains the expert.

The study also analysed radon levels in Stei, an area in Transylvania, Romania, where there are old uranium mines, and where the incidence of lung cancer has been shown to be 116.82% higher than estimates. Radon levels of up to 2,650 Bq/m3 have been recorded in some homes.

Ventilation and barriers against radon

Radon gas is emitted by subsoil and seeps into houses – to a greater or lesser degree depending upon the permeability of the ground – through the pores and cracks in garages and basements.

In order to address the problem, in addition to regularly checking levels of this gas, the experts suggest ventilating cellars and basements with extractor fans (opening windows alone may not be sufficient, depending on the levels of the gas). The construction of architectural barriers that are impermeable to radon is also recommended, above all in newly-built houses.

http://x-journals.com/2009/study-in-spain-and-romania-confirms-radon-as-second-leading-cause-of-lung-cancer/

A setback for the Sunday Mines (uranium)

Mining company told to collect more data at site

By Matthew Beaudin
Editor
Published: Friday, September 25, 2009 8:12 AM CDT

Environmental groups won a victory against the revving uranium industry last week when the US Department of the Interior halted an increase in mining near Naturita and sent the mining company to the field for more data.

In a letter remanding a standing approval for expansion — won over the winter — Lynn E. Rust, the deputy state director in the BLM’s Energy, Land and Minerals division, told Denison Mines Corporation that “This mine permit analysis should rely on the best available data, not simply on the data submitted, if better data can readily be obtained.”

Sheep Mountain Alliance and other groups filed a complaint with the state, asking for the approval to be stricken down or, at least, remanded. They got the latter.

Mining under the initial permit is allowed to continue, “but updated monitoring should occur under that dated permit,” Rust wrote.

The initial approval gave the Canada-based Denison Mines Corporation permission to expand its existing mining operations in the Big Gypsum Valley. New activities at the Sunday Mining complex would have included the expansion of waste rock areas and the addition of vent holes along with access roads and additional drilling. It would have increased land disturbance from 80 to 100 acres.

In an earlier review of the project, Jamie Sellar-Baker, the Dolores Public Lands Office associate manager, signed a Finding of No Significant Impact and Decision Record for the project, meaning its existence will have “no significant impact” on the environment surrounding it.

The most recent letter, though, asks for more information.

“Basically, they said the groundwater and environmental baseline data they collected was not the most recent information,” Hilary White, SMA’s executive director, said. “We’re thrilled with what we did get.”

Sheep Mountain didn’t get it all it wanted, however: Ever since the Department of Energy’s decision more than two years ago to re-open the federal uranium leasing program in the Uravan Mineral Belt — which sowed the seeds of the Manhattan Project — environmental groups have been asking for a comprehensive analysis of mining’s cumulative impacts rather than case-by-case reviews. The BLM, in this case, found a wholesale review of mining’s broad effects was unnecessary.

White says the environmental groups are still trying to get such a review through different cases.

In the summer of 2007, the Department of Energy also announced its intent to renew 13 active leases in southwest Colorado for 10 years, effectively rolling out the welcome mat for mining companies.

“If we just sit idly by and leave it up to the government and public land agencies … the public safety and environment is not fully protected,” White said. ‘It’s very important that there is ongoing … large amounts of scrutiny by private parties to question the government approval process.”

http://telluridenews.com/articles/2009/09/28/news/doc4abc17ca0cf29638841724.txt

$106 Million for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Projects in 9 US States Delivered Today

Posted on: 28th September 2009

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that more than $106 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is being awarded to 9 states to support energy efficiency and conservation activities.

Under DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program, these states will implement programs that lower energy use, reduce carbon pollution, and create green jobs locally. “This funding will allow states across the country to make major investments in energy solutions that will strengthen America’s economy and create jobs at the local level,” said Secretary Chu. “It will also promote some of the cheapest, cleanest and most reliable energy technologies we have - energy efficiency and conservation - which can be deployed immediately. Local communities can now make strategic investments to help meet the nation’s long term clean energy and climate goals.”

States receiving funding today include: Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

Today’s awards to the State Energy Offices will be used to support state-level energy efficiency priorities, along with funding local conservation projects in smaller cities and counties. At least 60 percent of each state’s award will be passed through to local cities and counties not eligible for direct EECBG awards from the Department of Energy. The EECBG Program was funded for the first time by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and provides formula grants to states, cities, counties, territories and federally-recognized Indian tribes nationwide to implement energy efficiency projects locally.

Projects eligible for support include the development of an energy efficiency and conservation strategy, energy efficiency audits and retrofits, transportation programs, the creation of financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements, the development and implementation of advanced building codes and inspections, and installation of renewable energy technologies on municipal buildings.

Transparency and accountability are important priorities for the EECBG program and all Recovery Act projects. All grantees have specific measures they must take before spending the full amount of awarded funding, such as ensuring oversight and transparency, submitting a conservation strategy to the Department of Energy, and complying with environmental regulations.

Throughout the program’s implementation, DOE will provide strong oversight at the local, state, and tribal level, while emphasizing the need to quickly award funds to help create new jobs and stimulate local economies. Communities will be required to report regularly to DOE on the progress they have made toward successfully completing projects and reaching program goals.

For a full list of awards to date, visit the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants Program.

The following states are receiving their state-level EECBG awards today:

DELAWARE - $9,593,500 awarded today
Delaware will use its Recovery Act EECBG funding to reduce fossil fuel emissions, decrease overall energy use, and improve energy efficiency statewide. Funding will be administered by the state’s Energy Office, which will use both population-based formulas and a competitive process to award grants to local cities and counties in the state. Delaware’s Energy Office will also use EECBG funds to make a variety of energy efficiency upgrades to state facilities, including the replacement of existing electric boilers and cooling tower systems. Overall, the activities funded by today’s Recovery Act award will lead to a significant reduction in Delaware’s energy use and associated costs, and create or save more than 100 jobs statewide.

HAWAII - $9,593,500 awarded today
Hawaii will use its Recovery Act EECBG funding to enhance energy efficiency in the buildings sector and deploy renewable energy technologies in state buildings. Projects funded with today’s award will lead to substantial energy and cost savings, increase Hawaii’s energy security, and reduce fossil fuel emissions, while creating green jobs statewide. Specifically, Hawaii will focus on bringing the state’s existing building portfolio up to Energy Star standards. The Energy Star buildings program, established by EPA, tracks buildings’ energy efficiency performance and energy use per sq. foot against a national standard. Buildings are recognized as meeting Energy Star standards if they are in the top 25 percent of building performance. Nationally the buildings sector accounts for approximately 70 percent of energy use, so the state expects this effort will substantially reduce its energy consumption. Recovery Act funding will also be used to install photovoltaic solar energy systems on state office buildings in downtown Honolulu.

IOWA - $9,593,500 awarded today
Iowa will use its Recovery Act EECBG funding to improve energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy across the state’s economic sectors. These projects will lead to substantial energy and cost savings, and save or create more than 100 green jobs. The state will pass along 60 percent of its funds to local governments that were not eligible for direct EECBG grants and the remaining 40 percent of funds will be made available for competitive awards to all cities and counties. The competitive selection process will favor highly-leveraged projects and regional collaboration.

The Iowa Office of Energy Independence (OEI) will administer the EECBG program, including assisting potential applicants in determining which kinds of proposals are allowable and feasible and how to find additional funding resources to leverage. Funds will be provided for a wide range of activities, including agricultural building energy audits, financial incentive programs, energy efficiency retrofits, transportation programs, building codes and inspections, energy distribution technologies, reduction and capture of methane and greenhouse gases, traffic signals and street lighting, and renewable energy technologies on government buildings. These Recovery Act-funded activities will directly support the renewable energy and energy efficiency goals necessary to meet Iowa’s 2025 target for energy independence.

INDIANA - $14,052,400 awarded today
Indiana will use its Recovery Act EECBG funding to help the state’s local communities, small businesses, non-profits, and others reduce their energy consumption, leading to significant cost savings and environmental benefits. Local cities and counties eligible for funding can use funding for traffic light upgrades and energy efficiency retrofits of local government buildings and facilities. These projects will create and retain jobs locally, while improving energy efficiency in the public sector and lowering fossil fuel emissions. In the long-term, these activities will also save cities and counties money by cutting energy costs, allowing them to direct funds to other projects that will help spur economic recovery. The EECBG program will be administered through the Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED) and awards will be made through a competitive process.

OED will also use EECBG funds to establish a loan program for small businesses, non-profits, health care institutions and institutions of higher education to finance energy efficiency upgrades to their existing buildings. The goal of the loan program will be to decrease total energy usage and increase the energy efficiency across the state’s public and private sectors. Additional Recovery Act funding will support the creation of an energy efficiency central database. This database will help the state and its citizens prepare for possible future legislation involving national renewable portfolio standards or limits on carbon emissions. Indiana’s Recovery Act-funded projects will lead to substantial energy and cost savings, and save or create nearly 200 jobs statewide.

MASSACHUSETTS - $14,752,100 awarded today
Massachusetts will use its Recovery Act EECBG funds to advance efficiency and conservation goals at the community level. To maximize the overall return on these investments, the commonwealth will leverage private capital and expertise from local and non-local partners. The majority of Massachusetts’ EECBG allocation, administered by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), will be passed along to cities and counties with populations less than 35,000. DOER estimates that, given the amount of funding available and the maximum grant award amount of $150,000, more than 80 communities will receive funding under this competitive subgrant program.

Massachusetts will use remaining Recovery Act funds for several training and technical assistance initiatives. First, DOER will share its Energy Information Reporting System with each of the commonwealth’s 351 local government units. This system will enable communities to establish energy-use baseline inventories for their buildings, vehicles, and street lights. To share current technical knowledge with even the smallest localities, DOER will also employ over $1 million to engage experts who can provide on the ground assistance. These experts can help cities and counties ensure that energy baselines are accurately defined, equipment and systems are correctly designed and installed, installed equipment and systems performs as they should, and that performance and results are effectively measured and monitored. Finally, DOER will devote a portion of its EECBG funding to provide energy code training to building code officials throughout the commonwealth. As a result of today’s Recovery Act award, Massachusetts expects to substantially lower its energy use and fossil fuel emissions, as well as save or create more than 200 green jobs.

OKLAHOMA - $9,593,300 awarded today
Oklahoma will use its Recovery Act EECBG funding to support various energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. These projects will reduce the state’s energy consumption and fossil fuel emissions, saving Oklahomans money in energy costs and creating green jobs across the state. Oklahoma will competitively award 60 percent of the funding to local cities and counties, prioritizing projects based on measures like energy and cost savings, job creation, renewable energy generation, and carbon emissions reductions. EECBG funds will also allow Oklahoma to upgrade the electrical distribution system in Waynoka, where the installation of new transformers will result in a 25 percent reduction in power consumption. Remaining Recovery Act funds will also be used to fund the installation of solar and wind technologies in jurisdictions across Oklahoma and to enhance local recycling programs.

TENNESSEE - $13,818,200 awarded today
Tennessee will use its Recovery Act EECBG funding to enhance energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy across the state’s economic sectors. These projects will lead to substantial energy and cost savings, and save or create more than 100 green jobs statewide. Tennessee will direct the majority of its EECBG funding to a subgrant program that will make awards to city and county governments across the state. The Energy Policy Office at the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) will administer the competitive award program, which will fund a variety of activities to reduce local energy consumption and fossil fuel emissions.

Tennessee will use the remaining funds to conduct a comprehensive public education campaign to help its citizens use energy more efficiently, and establish clean energy worker training programs at technology centers, community colleges, and universities. The public education campaign will be specifically targeted to help Tennesseans improve the energy efficiency of their homes, and will use various channels to collect, organize, and disseminate information, including workshops and print media. The training initiative will provide the state’s citizens training in a wide variety of green sectors, including weatherization, advanced energy codes, and solar installation. These programs will better position Tennessee’s workforce to take advantage of the clean energy economy.

VERMONT - $9,593,500 awarded today
Vermont will use its Recovery Act EECBG funding to undertake projects that enhance energy efficiency and expand the use of renewable energy at the state and local level. In addition to grants to smaller cities and counties, a portion of the subgrant funds will also be awarded to 11 regional planning commissions for county-level energy efficiency related projects, including energy audits, efficiency installations, and energy planning.

Vermont will use the remaining Recovery Act funding to establish the Clean Energy Development Fund, a financial incentive program that will allow the state to maximize the impact and sustainability of clean energy projects by leveraging Recovery Act funds. The program will provide incentives for the installation of renewable energy technologies on government buildings, energy efficiency retrofits for schools and municipal buildings, energy audits for school buildings, and the Vermont Clean Cities Coalition, which supports the reduction of petroleum use in the transportation sector. Vermont’s EECBG activities will lead to substantial energy and cost savings, and create and save green jobs statewide.

VIRGINIA - $16,145,300 awarded today
Virginia will use its Recovery Act EECBG funds to improve energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy across the state’s public and private sectors by putting in place self-sustaining energy efficiency programs and financing renewable energy systems for public facilities. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), which will administer the Recovery Act funding, will pass along 60 percent of the funds to local cities and counties that were not eligible for direct EECBG grants. The funds will be awarded competitively, with a priority on buildings programs and localities that join together into multi-jurisdictional alliances.

DMME will also make funds available for the installation of renewable energy systems on local government and public buildings. These renewable energy projects are expected to have transformative effects on local markets and provide a strong return on Recovery Act investments with long-lasting economic and environmental benefits for the local communities. By deploying these clean energy systems across the state, Virginia will also be able to promote a broader understanding and acceptance of the benefits of renewable energy projects that will lead to increased demand for clean energy technologies. The EECBG Recovery Act funding will help will help save or create hundreds of green jobs across the state.

http://thegovmonitor.com/world_news/united_states/106-million-for-energy-efficiency-and-conservation-projects-in-9-us-states-delivered-today-7126.html

Meeting: Virginia Commission on Energy and Environment



SENATE OF VIRGINIA
OFFICE OF THE CLERK
RICHMOND

September 09, 2009

CHANGE IN MEETING LOCATION

TO: Members, Virginia Commission on Energy and Environment
FROM: Patty Lung, Coordinator, Senate Committee Operations
RE: Change in Meeting Date/Time/Location

The time and location for the Tuesday, October 6th meeting of the Virginia Commission on Energy and Environment has been changed. The Commission will meet in conjunction with the
Southern Virginia Bioenergy Conference at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research,
150 Slayton Avenue, Danville, Virginia.
Directions to the facility are on the Institute website.
The conference begins at 9:00 a.m. and the Commission meeting is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.
The agenda for the conference is posted on the Commission website. Additional information will be sent to Commission members as available.

If you have questions regarding the meeting content, please contact Ellen Porter or Patrick Cushing with the Division of Legislative Services (804) 786-3591. If I may assist you in any other manner, or if you are a member and cannot attend, please call me at (804) 698-7450.

Members:

The Honorable Mary Margaret Whipple, Chair
The Honorable J. Chapman Petersen
The Honorable Richard H. Stuart
The Honorable Charles D. Poindexter, Vice Chair
The Honorable Samuel A. Nixon, Jr.
The Honorable Clarke N. Hogan
The Honorable Joseph P. Johnson, Jr.
The Honorable Mark D. Sickles
Patrick G. Hatcher
Karen Kennedy Schultz
Hugh E. Montgomery, Jr.
August Wallmeyer
Arlen K. Bolstad
David K. Paylor
Stephen A. Walz

cc: The Honorable Susan Clarke Schaar
The Honorable Bruce F. Jamerson
Ellen Porter, Division of Legislative Services
Patrick Cushing, Division of Legislative Services
Mail List, Virginia Commission on Energy and Environment

http://dela.state.va.us/Dela/ComOpsStudy.nsf/82965f555b18a72185256c330058a983/c489563d01dc82c28525762c006bf481?OpenDocument

Nukes mean mines (Uranium)

By Greg Harman

A string of lakes across Karnes County sparkle as blue as any found in the resort towns of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Each is graced with the gentle slope of a nearby hill, where wildlife forages on its way to and from the waterline. These former mine sites were blasted open during the uranium boom that swept South Texas in the 1950s and '60s, when the U.S. military was racing to keep pace with the growing Soviet atomic-bomb program and the newborn Atomic Energy Commission was struggling to develop beneficial uses for the monstrously destructive power we had tapped. Today, 17 of Texas' earliest open-pit mines remain abandoned on private property. Land owners like to fish these man-made water features. More than a few have learned to water-ski here, despite the fact that the Texas Railroad Commission has found the sites to be emitting abnormally high levels of cancer-causing radiation.

In a recent letter to one area landowner, an official of the Railroad Commission's Surface Mining & Reclamation Division wrote that uranium mine tailings at the edge of his lake emit “up to” 850 micro-Rem of radioactivity per hour. In the time it takes you to thread a worm on a hook and reel in a catch, your body would receive dozens of times the natural level of background radiation.* Like other abandoned mines nearby, this site on the western edge of Karnes County also contains elevated levels of arsenic, selenium, and molybdenum, according to the commission's letter.

The lakes are only the most glaring reminder of South Texas' uranium-mining history. Dozens of more modern, underground “in-situ” mining sites are scattered from Karnes County all the way to Laredo, along with uranium mills and processing plants, where mined uranium is treated with acid to leach out a refined “yellow cake.” Karnes County is also home to a string of disposal pits outside Panna Maria and Hobson used by the energy companies that mined South Texas through the 1980s. Today, these pits are filled with more than 20-million tons of radioactive tailings and processing wastes that will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. They have leaked into area groundwater, and one spoiled aquifer in western Karnes has been tagged by the U.S. Department of Energy with an estimated cleanup cost of $350 million.

The Texas Mining & Reclamation Association estimates more than 76- million pounds of uranium have been produced in Texas, but there's plenty more where that came from. Should the so-called nuclear rennaissance pan out and new reactors be built, a demand for fuel will certainly follow.

“Assuming nuclear energy is the energy of the future, we're going to have to have a feedstock to provide it with,” says Art Dohman, president of the Goliad County Groundwater District.
---
San Antonio's utility has been pushing hard for an expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear complex, 200 miles to the southeast at Bay City. A partner with NRG Energy at the existing reactors, CPS Energy wants to maintain a controlling interest in the proposed two new reactors at 40- percent ownership. Public hearings have become a form of popular entertainment, as the merits and demerits of nuclear power are picked apart and challenged by an array of local leaders - with a few notable exceptions: The environmental and public-health costs associated with nuclear power have largely been brushed aside with an optimistic nod to the future. In a meeting with members of the political-accountability group COPS-Metro Alliance on Sunday, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro repeated that he was “comfortable” with the environmental impact of nuclear power. While critics evaluate uranium mining and radioactive waste disposal in “moral terms - leaving something to future generations we really don't have a handle on,” Castro said, “I believe in the decades to come there will be a safe way to deal with that waste.” Like the nonexistent dumps that proponents hope will one day safely store our nuclear waste for what amounts to eternity, the risks involved in uranium mining and processing should be a starting point for any debate about the promise and peril of nuclear power, yet it has received scant attention in San Antonio's decision whether or not to partner in the expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear complex.

The plants, the dumps, the mines - perhaps they're simply too far from San Antonio to register. But the aftermath of our last uranium boom still echoes loudly in South Texas.
---
Florence Bodine is waiting for a call back from the Railroad Commission about the water-filled pit on her western Karnes County property. First contacted by the agency in 1998, Bodine signed the paperwork granting the state permission to clean up the site - even with the disclaimer that the work “cannot be warranted … and may not achieve the intended result.” She's already waved off one offer to purchase water from the lake for irrigation (“I said no, I didn't want to be liable for that.”).

Ramona Nye, spokesperson for the Texas Railroad Commission, insists that since these defunct mines were dug prior to the creation of federal laws governing them, it is not the state's responsibility to repair the damage. As federal money trickles in - siphoned from the coal companies' profits via a mine-reclamation tax - the Railroad Commission pumps the water from another abandoned pit, pushes the tailings back into the hole, and covers it over with a few inches of uncontaminated soil. To date, cleanup per site has run between $224,000 and $2 million.

A.C. McAda, city attorney for Falls City and Kenedy, grew up observing the impact mining had on area livestock. Back when uranium trucks on the road meant thriving downtowns and auto dealerships, his father, a local veterinarian, was documenting marked declines in local livestock reproduction. His father also recorded a rare type of heavy-metal poisoning that robbed black Angus cattle of their pigment, turning them white.

“They never really found a way to get that reversed,” McAda said.

But agricultural anomalies were soon dwarfed by public-health fears. Father Frank Kurzaj was the priest of the small Polish community of Panna Maria in the 1980s when the fight over waste disposal at an unlined pit a few miles west of town exploded. He counseled parishioners stricken with cancer and couples unable to conceive, labored over the faith-challenging questions that can follow birth defects, and worked with two families living near the dump whose children were born as hermaphrodites. He helped organize the Panna Maria Concerned Citizens to give the community standing at the public hearings held about the toxic hill, which was owned by energy giant Chevron and later sold to Rio Grande Resources.

“The dumping was done over there and people were not aware of the consequences of being in this area. They were lied to, simply by telling them everything is under control,” Kurzaj said.

It wasn't under control. Mines, trucks, and processing mills all spread contamination, exposing residents. Lawsuits followed, as did confidential settlements that keep firsthand tales out of the headlines.

While Kurzaj doesn't object to uranium mining or nuclear power on principle, he says the toxic nature of uranium combined with the destabilizing power of greed should motivate communities to fight for the strongest possible oversight. “Money's important, we need money to live,” Kurzaj said. “But there are some more important things than money. If we have plenty of money but we don't have health, why do you need the money? You cannot use it.”
---

When it comes to open-pit carnage, some of the worst damage has been done to indigenous lands, like the Navajo territory in New Mexico, where workers dug uranium ore in underground mines without the benefit of safety equipment. As in Karnes, the land around Church Rock, New Mexico, outside Gallup, is marked by abandoned mines and milling sites, but this area has the unwelcome distinction of also being the site of the second-largest non-weapons-related radiological release in history, the largest being the Chernobyl meltdown of 1986. It happened just a few months after the Three Mile Island accident of 1979. An estimated 90-million gallons of liquid radioactive waste burst through a dam wall at a uranium-processing mill owned by United Nuclear Corps, flooding farmland, arroyos, and fields, and permanently contaminating the Rio Puerco River.

Despite adamant resistance from the Navajo and other nearby tribes, a subsidiary of one prominent Texas mining outfit, Uranium Resources, Inc., is petitioning the state of New Mexico to gain access to Church Rock for another go. Recently, tensions between the Navajo's objection to mining and those anxious for jobs in the area spilled over in an attack on five Navajo men in Grants, New Mexico.

“Just because they're Navajo, these men got beat up, very severely. One man had to have his eye put back in,” said Anna Rondon, who since 1987 has served as a volunteer organizer for the Southwest Indigenous Uranium Forum, a series of gathering intended to shed light on the environmental and health impacts of uranium mining.

Native American communities throughout the Southwest have experienced high levels of kidney diseases and cancer thought to be related to uranium mining. While cancer was once something of an anomaly among the Navajo, after 30 years of heavy mining activity, cancer rates in Navajo Country began to shoot upward, doubling by the late '90s, according to Indian Health Service data. Still, no study of the residents around Church Rock has ever been performed, according to Linda Gunter from the non-profit organization Beyond Nuclear.

By contrast, at least two studies have been performed in Karnes County. The Texas Department of Health carried out a single population-based study of cancer occurrences in Karnes County and reported no statistical abnormalities. That was followed by another study by researchers from the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Maryland, who reached a similar conclusion in 2002. Both of these studies were well reported in the media.

However, research conducted through the early 1990s by a team from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston took a different approach and found cause for concern. Instead of simply relying on the number of cancer cases reported, the group took physical samples from residents living within 1.5 miles of uranium-waste pits in Karnes County and looked for cellular damage. In 1995, the team reported in the highly regarded journal Environmental Health Perspectives that the DNA of the Karnes County residents had more “chromosome aberrations” than a similar number of people who did not reside near toxic-waste sites. The UTMB team then exposed the cell samples to a dose of radiation and observed that the cells had an “abnormal DNA repair response.”

With the benefit of improved evaluation methods, one of the UTMB study's chief researchers, Dr. William Au, returned to the Karnes County issue in a report published this year in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. This time, he showed that residents near those waste sites “could have been exposed to a level of radiation that is similar to those for nuclear workers [and] … have increased risk for cancer over the non-exposed residents.” The National Council on Radiation Protection estimates that the average American is exposed to about 300 micro-Rem of radioactivity each year, mainly from radon gas in the air. But, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows workers within the nuclear industry to receive as much as 5,000 micro-Rem a year. The National Academy of Science maintains that no level of radiation exposure can be considered safe.

Au, a 20-year veteran of UTMB who is moving to China to take over an environmental-health program at a medical school there, is critical of the state's statistical approach.

“They were forced to do a study,” he said, “but the population is too small to do that kind of study … The result was predictable to be negative because [the population] is too small to do anything meaningful.”
---

Of course, when mining returns to Karnes and any number of former uranium-mining sites in South Texas, it won't be done in open pits under a cloud of yellow dust. During the past 20 years, South Texas has served as a staging ground for the development of a new mining technology that leaves the Earth's surface relatively unmarred. Ore trapped in underground aquifers can be “mined” through a complex system of injection and extraction wells. In the uranium-bearing water sands of South Texas, virtually all of the uranium particles are anchored in underground rock and sand formations, not floating freely in the water. By pumping heavily oxygenated solution through an ore deposit these particles can be released in a chemical exchange not unlike salt dissolving in water. With the uranium broken out into the water column, it can be pumped to the surface and stripped out at a processing plant.

In-situ is not as effective as strip mining. It tends to leave more uranium behind. It also releases more radon gas into the air and other radioactive elements into the water, including thorium, radium, and radon. Exposure to these radioactive elements is dangerous on two levels: As a heavy metal, uranium in drinking water can damage liver and kidney function; exposure to the radiation via the mineral dust or radon gas it produces is known to cause cancer and birth defects, as well as damage human DNA. This DNA damage can be passed along genetically, increasing the susceptibility of future generations to certain diseases.

Largely developed in Texas, in-situ uranium mining has been exported and used at a variety of sites around the world with varying degrees of success. In Eastern Europe, the use of harsh solvents to strip out the uranium deposits coupled with weak environmental oversight led to the contamination of drinking-water supplies in communities in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. When in-situ mining proposals reached Australia a decade ago, the Australian Conservation Foundation hired Gavin Mudd of the Victoria University of Technology to conduct an environmental assessment.

“The environmental impacts are generally underground and therefore, on the surface, it would appear that such negative impacts are minimal. However, the quality of groundwater and the mined aquifer are permanently altered as a result of ISL mining,” Mudd wrote in 1998. “The industry will continue to claim that the ISL technique is 'environmentally benign,' but the reality of the depressed world uranium supply simply dictates that future uranium production will come from ISL merely due to its lower overall production costs.”

If the in-situ method represents an improvement over the old dig-and-dump uranium mines, it's worth noting that Texas regulators didn't get any such upgrade. Take, for instance, this May 24, 1999, communication from the Texas Department of Health's Incident Investigations Program in the Bureau of Radiation Control concerning a spill of 2,000 gallons of uranium-polluted water by Cogema Mining at a site outside Bruni, Texas - considered by some the birthplace of industrial in-situ mining:

“This is in reference to your facsimile (FAX) to the Agency dated May 11, 1998, concerning the spill of U3O6 at the West Cole Wellfield III by well 627. I am sorry to be responding after nearly a year but the facsimile was evidently lost in the paper shuffle for over a year. After review of your report, I have a couple of questions concerning the spill that should be clarified for future reference … ”

Such spills are not unheard of in the in-situ mining world. In fact, the same company had already reported three other spills that same year: 2,500 gallons in February 1998, 20,000 gallons in May 1998, and 8,000 gallons in July 1998.

Three years earlier, Manuel Longoria sued Uranium Resources, Inc. at another Bruni site for dumping “massive amounts of wastewater” into a spring-fed pool known as Arroyos de los Angeles and fouling his groundwater, according to a lawsuit filed in district court in Duval County.

Like the Australian researcher, public-health advocates aren't as concerned about the visible spills topside as they are about what may be happening beneath the surface. So far, only a handful of the mine operators have managed to return the groundwater to the same quality it was before mining got underway, a survey of state data shows. The amount of water consumed by in-situ mining should also set off alarms in drought-prone, water-poor South Texas, says Mark Walsh, who has dogged the URI Kingsville mine for years as a member of South Texas Opposes Pollution.

“All of the billions of gallons of water used to mine this, and then we end up destroying the aquifer in so many places,” Walsh said. “We're in the biggest drought since the 1950s. Whatever we have in the aquifer we have to protect, but we want to protect the uranium companies.”

According to data from the South Texas Water Authority, last summer URI was using about a million gallons per month mining at Ricardo, Texas. About one-fourth of that water was ultimately shot down deep disposal wells as waste. URI officials say that while mining stopped in June due to the collapse of uranium prices, a skeleton staff continues running roughly 20-million gallons per month minimum through reverse-osmosis units in an attempt to clean up contamination at its three Kingsville mine fields.

The company also hasn't ruled out applying for an amendment to its permit that would increase the amount of contaminants they would be able to legally leave behind, according to URI Executive Vice President Rick Van Horn.

“That's certainly something we can look at doing if we feel we've done everything that we can as far as cleaning the groundwater up, but that's something that is going to be the subject - if we do that - will be the subject of public hearings and the state would have to sign off on that,” Van Horn said. “It's not just something we could do unilaterally.”
---

URI has also started funding promising research at Texas A&M Kingsville into the ability of hydrogen to remove heavy-metal pollution from water. So far, injecting and circulating hydrogen at the Kingsville Dome site has succeeded in reducing uranium contamination in the groundwater from around 5,000 parts per billion to 70 ppb, according to lead researcher Lee Clapp, associate professor of environmental engineering. The EPA's threshold for uranium in drinking water is 30 ppb.

But Clapp and his team have had trouble circulating the hydrogen widely enough through the well field to reach all of the existing contamination. And no one knows how long the treatment will successfully keep the uranium out of the water column. After a period of time, the leftover uranium could start to migrate again.

“Those are absolutely critical research questions we're looking into,” Clapp said. So far, he adds, “I think the results are pretty encouraging.”

Clapp is in communication with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey who are keen to apply the research at contaminated federal waste sites, but Kleberg County officials are interested as well. In recent years, heavy groundwater pumping by the city has reversed the flow of subsurface water so that it no longer flows toward the Gulf of Mexico south of Kingsville but instead flows back toward the city. Since URI's mine is located several miles south of the city, some observers are concerned that the contamination could migrate upstream to city wells. Even if URI abandoned their operations and shut down all of their pumps, the Texas Water Board estimates it would take more than 1,000 years for the contamination to reach Kingsville. But slow-moving water is still poisoned water.

“The fact of the matter is, they have these applications, they say they're going to return the water to such-and-such a level when they know they can't, and the state knows they can't,” says Ann Ewing, of South Texas Opposes Pollution. “So why do they even put that in there?”

It's doubly instructive to consider that when Kleberg County tried to stop the expansion of mining operations by URI until the existing contamination was cleaned up, they gained the support of an administrative law judge with the State Office of Administrative Hearings, who ruled the expansion request should be approved “contingent upon URI's restoriation of [Production Area] 1 and substational progress toward the completion of PA 2.” Turned out the company had bigger friends, and backed by three members of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality it moved forward anyway.

Up the road in Goliad County, Uranium Energy Corp is working hard to open an in-situ operation. The groundwater district and the county government charge that the company has already fouled the local aquifer by punching nearly 100 exploratory holes in the subsurface water sands. Instead of closing these holes within 48 hours as state law demands, many of them were left open to the elements for several weeks. With air and rainwater shooting down the shafts, Groundwater District president Dohman says the uranium reacted to the oxygen and began to dissolve out of the water sands, polluting the Evangeline Aquifer.

The fight over uranium mining in Goliad is significant, because it may represent the first time a South Texas community has been organized enough to take a thorough assessment of its water quality before uranium-exploration drilling got underway. State law requires companies to sample the water to establish its quality prior to mining, but this is often done after exploration drilling takes place, a process that inevitably stirs up some contaminants in the water and skews subsequent baseline samples. A contested case hearing over the UEC permit applications will be held before the State Office of Administrative Hearings early next year.

Recently, a former Kingsville Dome employee surfaced in nearby Yorktown to help fight off UEC's advance. Roland Burrows worked as a well-field operator for URI for five months in 1996, and says he witnessed the company routinely flushing the well field with far more water than allowed by the terms of its permit. He claims to have witnessed the falsification of monitoring-well data by company employees, which must be submitted regularly to TCEQ to show that contaminated water is contained at the mine site.

After more than one confrontation with his supervisors over these alleged practices, Burrows says he was out shutting down some of the offending injection wells about 45 minutes before sunrise on July 27, 1996, when a crop duster spraying an adjacent field crossed over the mine and dropped a load of malathion on him. He quickly showered, changed his clothes, and returned to work, where he promptly passed out. Within a week, doctors at South Texas Cost Containment cleared him to return to work despite a diagnosis of exposure to pesticide spray.

Harry Anthony, the URI engineering manager at the time, who is now an employee of UEC, did not return repeated phone calls from the Current, but Van Horn provided a document that showed an investigation by the TNRCC (now the TCEQ) was carried out the following year that cleared the company of any wrongdoing associated with Burrows's charges.
---

From the vantage point of a refurbished uranium mill in Karnes County, Greg Kroll feeds mesquite wood into a small cooker. His company, South Texas Mining Venture, is watching uranium values, and a number of potential future mining sites.

Well over 6 feet tall and broad-chested, Kroll laughs off suggestions that elevated uranium levels at abandoned mining sites in the area could be hazardous to human health. “Look what it did to me! It probably stunted my growth!” he says goodnaturedly.

City Attorney McAda understands the pull uranium mining can have in a community of limited means. “It's an interesting dynamic,” he says “You probably know there's something wrong there, you just don't want to know about it. You don't want to ask. You don't want to know too much.

“When I grew up in Kenedy and Karnes City, they were thriving little towns. We still had stores downtown, car dealerships. They were really going. They were driven by uranium mining and oil and gas services.” After he returned from college and law school eight years later, everything had changed. “Those towns had just died. The mines had shut down … When it shut down, it killed those towns.”

Like URI, Mining Ventures is waiting for the economy to recover, and for uranium prices, at $45 dollars a pound today, down from a high of nearly $140 a pound in 2007, to rebound. With the early signs of a uranium-mining revival now apparent, a counterbalancing vigilance is also on the rise.

Donald Dugosh lives across the street from Rio Grande Resource's unlined dump at Panna Maria. Though the waste from the pit has already leaked into the underground aquifer, Rio Grande Resources wants to reopen its uranium mill to process the ore from the new generation of in-situ sites. If a permit pending with the state is approved, operators would be allowed to shoot the resulting toxic mill waste down deep injection wells nearby. The draft permit allows for 131 million gallons of radioactice and toxic waste to be shot down the holes each year, to a depth of 6,000 feet - just over a thousand feet beneath the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, considered the deepest underground source of drinking water in the area.

“They're supposed to take the waste back and re-inject it back into the formation,” Dugosh says. “But these folks here want to be cheap and just deep inject it here.”

And therein lies the crux of the dilemma: How much will Texans be willing to risk for another injection of mining income. With much of the nuclear debate in San Antonio focused on the water needs of the two proposed new reactors, what are we to do with the wasted waters already bequeathed to us from decades of uranium mining, processing, and dumping? Are we ready for another round?

In white shirt and clerical collar, Father Kurzaj still serves as a reminder of the impacted families and fouled aquifers of Karnes County. He speaks in hope that past actions won't be repeated, that the hunger of distant power plants and the pursuit of profit won't poison the waters again. After all, Kurzaj asks: “If the water is contaminated and the cattle and people cannot drink it, what is this land for? For nothing.”

*Corrected 9/17.

http://sacurrent.com/news/story.asp?id=70530

GOVERNOR KAINE'S FY 2010 BUDGET REDUCTION PLAN

Notice: Kaine cuts more from tourism than mines, minerals and energy commission

Virginia Tourism Authority
Implement strategies to capture efficiencies
($1,606,529)

Implements strategies to capture savings through administrative
streamlining, effecting efficiencies and realignment.

GF Savings/Resources
GF Reduction Revenue/Transfers
$0
Virginia Tourism Authority Totals
$16,151,121

General Fund Reduction

General Fund Revenue/Transfers
2010 General Fund Appropriation
($1,606,529)

$0
Total Position Level Changes
Total Layoffs
0.00

Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy
Capture general fund balances
($99,935)

Reverts June 30, 2009, discretionary general fund balances reserved by
agencies and included in their budget reduction plans to meet the
anticipated revenue shortfall in FY 2010.

GF Savings/Resources
GF Reduction Revenue/Transfers
$0

Reduce salary and fringe on turnover
($8,000)

Reverts lower salary and fringe benefit cost savings from a mineral mine
inspector replacement.
GF Savings/Resources

GF Reduction Revenue/Transfers
$0
Revert geologic materials sales office funds
$0

Transfers to the general fund a portion of the balance in geologic
materials sales office funds. The agency intends to use the remainder of
these balances for an efficiency measure to digitize the agency’s
remaining paper publications and put them on the agency's web store.
GF Savings/Resources

GF Reduction Revenue/Transfers
$15,000

Revert energy sub-metering funds
$0
Transfers to the general fund a portion of the sub-metering fund balance.
The fund is used to establish a system to manage state agency energy
consumption and cost data.
GF Savings/Resources

GF Reduction Revenue/Transfers
$173,710

loan fund
$0
Transfers to the general fund a portion of the balance of the funds used
for the state agency energy savings project revolving loan fund.
GF Savings/Resources

GF Reduction Revenue/Transfers
$200,555

Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy Totals
$12,148,441
General Fund Reduction

General Fund Revenue/Transfers
2010 General Fund Appropriation
($609,494)
$389,265

Total Position Level Changes
Total Layoffs
(1.00)

Total General Fund Impact $998,759
0

To review all report click on:
http://www.pittgov.org/documents/Reductions2010.pdf

NOTICE OF MEETING



SENATE OF VIRGINIA
OFFICE OF THE CLERK
RICHMOND

September 25, 2009

NOTICE OF MEETING

TO: Members, Renewable Energy Subcommittee, of the Energy and Environment Commission
FROM: Angi Murphy, Senate Committee Operations
RE: Meeting Date/Time/Location



A meeting of the Renewable Energy Subcommittee of the Commission on Energy and Environment has been scheduled for Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. in the Pittsylvania County Public Library (Gretna Branch) at 207 Coffey Street, Gretna VA 24557.


Members:

The Honorable Charles D. Poindexter, Chair
The Honorable Joseph P. Johnson, Jr.
Patrick G. Hatcher
Hugh E. Montgomery
August Wallmeyer
Arlen Bolstad
David K. Paylor
Stephen A. Walz

Enclosure (s):

cc: The Honorable Susan Clarke Schaar
The Honorable Bruce F. Jamerson
Ellen Porter, Division of Legislative Services
Patrick Cushing, Division of Legislative Services
Mail List for Virginia Commission on Energy and Environment


http://dela.state.va.us/Dela/ComOpsStudy.nsf/82965f555b18a72185256c330058a983/11D8A24A68C83B088525763C006011F1?OpenDocument

Environment: Hot Town

Comment: The article is dated but the old saying "history repents itself" is true. Uranium mine and mill tailings are dangerous in any form!

Monday, Dec. 20, 1971

Except on coldest days of the Colorado winter, the doors of the Pomona Elementary School annex, on the outskirts of Grand Junction, are opened during recess. The reason is that the building is radioactive. Unless the rooms are aired, radioactive gases and particles seeping through the floors cause the radiation in the school rooms to rise dangerously above safe levels. In fact, during the summer months when the school is closed up, radiation rises to a level 18 times higher than the guideline established by the U.S. Surgeon General.

Pomona Elementary's problem is shared in less acute form by buildings in at least a dozen other Colorado communities and by Grand Junction itself, an important uranium-producing town until the ore petered out in the mid-1960s.

The villain is uranium "tailings" — gray, sandy debris that piled up in small mountains beside the mills as refuse from the mining operations. The tailings were known to contain some residual radiation, but below levels the AEC then considered to be a health or safety hazard.

As the town boomed along with its uranium mines, Grand Junction contractors seized on the tailings as a convenient and cheap source of landfill and concrete mix. Over the years, thousands of tons of tailings went into the construction of schools, homes, commercial buildings, sidewalks, an airfield and a shopping mall.

Cleft Palates. By 1961, says the AEC, "form letters" were mailed to health officials warning that while the agency did not have regulatory jurisdiction over the tailings, their radium content could be hazardous; health officials, however, claim they never received the letters. In 1966 the Colorado state health department attached test film badges to several buildings in downtown Grand Junction; the badges promptly turned black from radioactivity. This led the state to pass legislation requiring contractors to get permits before using tailings in any project.

In 1970 a pediatrician in Grand Junction, Dr. Robert Ross, noticed an increase in the number of cleft palates and other birth defects in the area, and communicated his concern to Dr. C. Henry Kempe, chairman of the pediatrics department at the University of Colorado's Medical Center. Their joint studies, reported last October, indicated that incidence of cleft lip and palate was almost twice as high in the Grand Junction area as for the rest of Colorado, the birth rate significantly lower, the death rate from congenital anomalies 50% higher.

But the town was slow to take alarm. Paul Hathaway, regional editor of Grand Junction's Daily Sentinel, explains: "Uranium turned this from a sleepy little cow town to a booming city. They accept it as part of their existence. That's why you don't see a lot of immediate concern about the tailings." As Frank Folk, who is principal of a local school, puts it: "I'd just as soon be here in the clear air with the tailings as in some of those cities with their smog."

Radon Daughters. Maybe so, but scientists are now seriously concerned about the long-term effects of such low-level radiation on individuals living and working in buildings in which tailings were used. Of about 5,000 such structures in the Grand Junction area between 1,500 and 2,000 have been found to contain radon gas. This gas is so penetrating that it can seep through foundations and into basements and other closed spaces.

Even more ominous is the fact that radon gas breaks down into "radon daughters," highly radioactive substances that physicians believe cause genetic defects and cancer.

TIME Correspondent Ted Hall, who recently visited the town, reports that the mood there now is one of apprehension, confusion over how much radiation is actually dangerous, and anger.

"I'm not trying to become the Ralph Nader of radiation," explains Willis Stubbs, an insurance salesman whose four children attend Pomona Elementary, "but people need to be told to get the hell out from the tailings, or that it's all right."

Both he and his wife have come to doubt the Surgeon General's guideline. Says Mrs. Stubbs: "They say chances of damage to the children is one in a million. Well, suppose your child is that one in a million? We happen to be parents and we are concerned about it." So are some local businessmen. A bank has decided not to offer mortgages to home buyers until radiation readings have been made.

What to Do? Remedies are not easy. Of course, entire structures can be torn down, but not many people want to do that. Alternatively, hot structures can be jacked up and the fill replaced with dirt. But all this is expensive, and neither the state nor the AEC has been eager to pick up the tab. The whole problem is confused by the continuing debate about how much radiation is dangerous—an incredibly difficult decision since effects may not show up for several generations.
Last week, AEC Chairman James Schlesinger visited Denver, where he discussed Grand Junction's troubles with Governor John Love and admitted that Grand Junction contractors, the state, and the AEC share a "moral responsibility" for the tailings. He stressed that the radiation poses no "immediate" danger to residents. On the other hand, he said that radiation levels "are higher than we would prefer, so some remedial action is intended."

When, he could not say—except to state that "there is presently no plan to provide funds from the Federal Government" for removing the tailings, which could cost as much as $20 million.

Find this article at:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,878989,00.html

NOTICE OF MEETING:Renewable Energy Subcommittee, of the Energy and Environment

SENATE OF VIRGINIA
OFFICE OF THE CLERK
RICHMOND

September 25, 2009

NOTICE OF MEETING

TO: Members, Renewable Energy Subcommittee, of the Energy and Environment

Commission
FROM: Angi Murphy, Senate Committee Operations
RE: Meeting Date/Time/Location


A meeting of the Renewable Energy Subcommittee of the Commission on Energy and Environment has been scheduled for Thursday:

October 22, 2009 at 10:00 a.m.

Pittsylvania County Public Library (Gretna Branch)
207 Coffey Street, Gretna VA 24557.


Members:

The Honorable Charles D. Poindexter, Chair
The Honorable Joseph P. Johnson, Jr.
Patrick G. Hatcher
Hugh E. Montgomery
August Wallmeyer
Arlen Bolstad
David K. Paylor
Stephen A. Walz

Enclosure (s):

cc: The Honorable Susan Clarke Schaar
The Honorable Bruce F. Jamerson
Ellen Porter, Division of Legislative Services
Patrick Cushing, Division of Legislative Services
Mail List for Virginia Commission on Energy and Environment

Individuals requiring interpreter services or other special assistance should telephone Senate Committee Operations at (804) 698-7450, TDD (804) 698-7419. Persons making audio-visual presentations to the committee should call for specifications.

http://dela.state.va.us/Dela/ComOpsStudy.nsf/82965f555b18a72185256c330058a983/11D8A24A68C83B088525763C006011F1?OpenDocument

Cañon City uranium contamination looms over Montrose mill battle

Paradox Valley in Montrose (Iversonic via Flickr))
Comment: Please review the resolution from 2007 Colorado Medical Society following this article!

By David O. Williams 9/25/09 8:39 AM

MONTROSE — For many in Montrose County and surrounding counties and communities in Southwest Colorado, proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill really is a clear-cut case of NIMBYism.

But for residents of Cañon City area, some of whom made the long trip to a special-use permit hearing in Montrose earlier this month, declaring “not in my back yard” could have spared them decades of health problems associated with the metal the Navajo Indians call “yellow death.”

Rebecca Lorenz of Colorado Springs was one of the attorneys who in the 1990s convinced two separate federal juries to award Cañon City area residents millions in damages stemming from radiation poisoning produced by Cotter Corp.’s uranium mill near Lincoln Park that was declared an EPA Superfund Cleanup site.

At a hearing before the Montrose County commissioners earlier this month, Lorenz read a laundry list of illnesses stemming from Cotter Corp. uranium processing that began in the 1950s and ran well into the 1980s: cancer, arthritis, bronchitis, infertility, birth defects and learning disabilities, to name a few.

She urged the commissioners to consider those considerable health risks before approving a special-use permit on Sept. 30 for a Canadian company, Energy Fuels, which wants to process uranium ore in far western Montrose County in the Paradox Valley between Bedrock and Naturita.

Cañon City resident Sharon Cunningham also made the long drive to Montrose, telling commissioners that “ore from this area and tailings are less than a mile from my house.” She related the story of Cotter Corp. chemist Lynn Boughton, who worked at the Cañon City mill for decades and fought Cotter and Pinnacle Insurance for years to secure a settlement after contracting cancer.

Cotter Corp.’s Glen Williams also attended the hearing, acknowledging his company’s problems processing ore near Cañon City. But he said technology has changed dramatically since the state’s uranium-mining heyday, and he urged the commissioners to approve the Paradox Valley mill so mines Cotter still owns and operates in the area will have a much closer processing facility.
Milling involves leaching uranium ore with sulfuric acid to produce uranium oxide, or yellow cake, which can then be converted into fuel rods for nuclear power plants.

“The [Paradox Valley] area is nice, but this county was built on natural resources,” Williams said.

Frank Filas, environmental manager for a U.S. subsidiary of Ontario-based Energy Fuels, said Cañon City is ancient history in his industry, with Cotter using unlined tailings ponds that led to groundwater contamination.

“You just can’t use [tailings] for sandboxes the way they were in the ’50s and ’60s, but comparing our situation to historic situations is a little disingenuous,” Filas said, adding his company will use state-of-the-art, double-lined ponds in the Paradox Valley.

Montrose internal medicine specialist Dr. Christine Gieszl and others cited numerous federal studies and a 2007 Colorado Medical Society (CMS) finding that uranium mining and milling pose a major public health risk. But Filas discounted the CMS decision.

“Our feeling is that decision was mostly political based on opposition to Powertech in Weld County,” Filas said, referring to a proposed uranium mine 15 miles northeast of Fort Collins that has now been opposed by the cities and towns of Fort Collins, Greeley, Ault, Wellington, Timnath and Nunn, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

There are a number of other concerns associated with a revival of Colorado’s uranium mining industry to meet a growing call for carbon-free nuclear power in the United States and around the world, including transportation of ore and other mining materials on two-lane mountain roads.

The Montrose County commissioners have finished taking public testimony on the proposed mill and appear ready to make a decision at their next hearing on the proposal, set for 10 a.m., Sept. 30, at Friendship Hall in the Montrose County Fairgrounds and Event Center.

http://coloradoindependent.com/38522/canon-city-uranium-contamination-looms-over-montrose-mill-battle

Colorado Medical Society Resolution

Comment: Great Resolution and has studies from NAS!
RES-16-P
AM ‘07

Colorado Medical Society Resolution

Introduced by: Larimer County Medical Society
Subject: Opposition to in-situ and open pit Uranium Mining in Colorado
Referred to: Reference Committee on Health Affairs

1
2 WHEREAS, the value of Uranium has increased due to the current number and
3 projected increase in Nuclear Power Plants in the world (436 currently and 90
4 projected for the next 15 years), and
5
6 WHEREAS, in 2006, Colorado had 3000 (three thousand) new uranium mining
7 claims, and
8
9 WHEREAS, Colorado geology shows a rich source of Uranium and the Uranium
10 mining industry has filed for 29 new Uranium mining permits in addition to 35
11 existing Uranium mining projects in Colorado, and
12
13 WHEREAS, all aspects of Uranium mining have adverse environmental
14 consequences and, main proposed mining method for Colorado sites is in15
situ and open pit mining that are known to contaminate groundwater (aquifers)
16 and surface water resources with heavy metal and traces of radioactive
17 uranium, and
18
19 WHEREAS, in areas where uranium mining has been performed in the past
20 there is documented increase in rates of; testicular and ovarian cancer,
21 leukemia, childhood bone cancer, miscarriages, infant death, congenital defects,
22 genetic abnormalities and learning disorders in the population living near the
23 mining site, and
24
25 WHEREAS, safe drinking water is key pillar of public health, and
26
27 WHEREAS, water is in short supply in Colorado and contaminating this natural
28 resource can be an irreversible disaster to communities that depend on that
29 aquifer, therefore be it
30
31 RESOLVED, that the Colorado Medical Society opposes the practice of in-situ
32 and open pit mining of Uranium in geographical areas that are utilized by the
33 farming or ranching communities or where there are human residents due to the
34 adverse health conditions associated with the mining process, and be it further
35
36 RESOLVED, that the Colorado Medical Society Delegation to the American
37 Medical Association take to the AMA House of Delegates a resolution that would
38 provide a similar opposition at the federal level.


RES
AM ’07

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River watchdogs hold board meeting

By Della Batts
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Published/Last Modified on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 12:54 PM EDT

ROANOKE RAPIDS — Roanoke River is one of the most vital resources to Roanoke Valley. The water it provides daily is vital for maintaining current levels of development for future growth.

The Roanoke River Basin Association has been working to protect this valuable resource since 1945. It is a coalition of members from Virginia and North Carolina who work to protect the river’s development, use, preservation and enhancement.

Instrumental in the fight against the Virginia Beach Pipeline, lately the RRBA has tackled concerns of possible interbasin water transfers in the lower Roanoke and possible uranium mining in the upper Roanoke River. The formation of the Bi-State Commission between Virginia and North Carolina has members hopeful the two states will work together for the betterment of the basin. The RRBA was instrumental in the formation of that commission. In a recent meeting of the board they discussed these and other issues.

According to a news release from Vice President Gene Addesso, the board was updated on the formation of the Lower Roanoke Inter-Basin Transfer of water (IBT) coalition. The group is organizing as a non-profit organization and will address the issue of interbasin water transfer from the Roanoke River. This is in response to a recent request from Kerr Lake Regional Water System to more than double its daily interbasin water transfer levels. The RRBA voted to formally recognize the organization.

In a similar forum, Addesso congratulated Bi-State Commission Director John Fields who was elected chair. The commission works to make recommendations to Virginia and North Carolina government concerning issues involving the Roanoke River. Addesso said, “It took the North Carolina side six years to get organized. Virginia has been organized and has been meeting over those years. The issue was eventually addressed with Rep. Lucy Allen and Sen. A.B. Swindle who got things moving in North Carolina.”

The commission has held three meetings with Addesso and RRBA Director Rick Seekins facilitating. “During the initial meetings an Ad-Hoc Water Allocation Committee was set up to develop a protocol by which Virginia and North Carolina could agree and advise the Corps of Engineers regarding allocation of water supply from Kerr Lake. This committee is made up of experts in the field of water management and is active,” said Addesso.

The organization hasn’t made up its mind yet concerning proposed uranium mining in Virginia, by Virginia Uranium Ltd., an issue that’s becoming major in Southside Virginia. After looking at the scope of a proposed study by the National Academy of Sciences the organization joined the Dan River Basin Association in saying “the current scope of the study is too general and does not really address the potential danger to the environment and health of the resources and citizens of the basin.”

Addesso said, “The irony now is the study will be funded by the Virginia Uranium Mining Company due to the lack of the State of Virginia funds to do so. It is naturally in the best interest for them to get the study complete. This makes the study suspect relative to objectivity. It is felt a total ‘neutral’ body should be setting the parameters and conducting the study.”

At the meeting, Rives Manning said he felt the study should be conducted by a group with no special or biased interest and made a motion the Bi-State Commission present specific parameters for the study.

Virginia Uranium Ltd, recently merged with Santoy Resources Ltd., to form Virginia Energy Resources Inc. Santoy is described by Alpha Trade Finance, a digital media and marketing company at finance.alphatrade.com, as a “junior Canadian mineral exploration company focused on discovering and developing high-grade uranium deposits,” out of Vancouver.

Alpha Trade said, “Santoy has actively been acquiring strategically located uranium properties within four main geographic locations for uranium occurrences ... These projects are located on favorable geological trends and are in close proximity to known deposits. The price of uranium has been steadily increasing due to a growing demand in the energy sector, which has been brought forth by dwindling supplies of uranium, increased life expectancy of current reactors, announced plans for many new reactors worldwide and an increased acceptance of nuclear power worldwide. With Santoy's significant uranium holdings, well over 1 million acres, the company has positioned itself to leverage from the current and continuing appeal of this valuable commodity.”

The board got an update on the grass carp situation in Lake Gaston. Manning said legislation was recently passed to prevent killing of the carp in the lake because they were introduced for specific purposes. The hybridized fish is designed specifically to eat hydrilla and costs Lake Gaston Weed Control Council more than $4 per fish.

Addesso said guest speaker, Tom Fransen, deputy director of N.C. Division of Water Resources, held a discussion on key projects in his division. “Their main objectives presently are water supply planning, water allocation and drought management in North Carolina,” said Addesso.

Reportedly, Co-chair Fransen also updated the board on the status of the Kerr Lake Regional Water System’s IBT request and the work being done by the Bi-State Commission Ad Hoc Committee on water allocation from Kerr Lake.

http://www.rrdailyherald.com/articles/2009/09/23/news/doc4aba522a8fe7c493215966.txt