The global nuclear system is irresponsible and needs to be stopped. From Colorado Springs Gazette, gazette.com
Uranium mining raises questions of safety, rights and wealth in Fremont County
‘It’s really tearing our community apart,’ one landowner saysMarch 29, 2008 – 12:59PMTHE GAZETTE
FREMONT COUNTY – This was Jim Hawklee’s dream – a quiet place to retire among the trees and mountains, far from the noise and traffic of the city.
It has become his nightmare.
Last summer, about the time he was finishing a $1 million home in this rugged area 15 miles northwest of Cañon City, an Australian company was staking claims and drilling holes in these hills, looking for the nuclear fuel uranium.
Hawklee and his neighbors in the Tallahassee Creek area learned they live above one of the richest uranium stashes in Colorado, one that was drilled extensively in the 1970s.
Black Range Minerals wants to drill 75 test holes. It estimates it could extract 46 million pounds of urani- um and has suggested it could set up a milling operation there.
Hawklee and some of his neighbors fear the impact on water, traffic, noise and quality of life. He is president of a group, Tallahassee Area Community Inc., formed to stop it. There are 44 properties within 500 feet, and 570 homes within a few miles, the group claims.
It’s a story being repeated throughout Colorado, which has the third-greatest uranium deposits in the nation. Expansion of nuclear power abroad has spiked uranium prices tenfold since 2003.
It’s an old story in many ways, the clash between landowners and miners and prospectors. And some landowners are learning harsh lessons about laws that give mining companies access to their land, and that, when they bought their property, they weren’t buying what lies beneath.
“Most of the uranium interest has taken off in the past two years, and it’s really something that is catching a lot of people offguard,” said Dan Grenard, minerals expert with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Cañon City, which oversees mineral development. “We haven’t had any interest in uranium since the late 1970s.”
Said Hawklee: “There was no information given to us, as purchasers of property when we bought it, that there were abandoned uranium mines in our area.
“It’s really tearing our community apart. We bought up here to retire and build homes.”
Lee Alter thought the pond across the street from his horse ranch was an old fishing hole.
He recently found out it is one of 79 abandoned uranium mines in Fremont County, most of which dot the hills of his neighborhood.