Saturday, June 5, 2010

Uranium industry offers death, disease, not good jobs

E-mail letters, June 3, 2010

By Staff

Sheep Mountain Alliance and a growing coalition of concerned organizations and individuals are working to stop the proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill in southwest Colorado.

We are concerned with the mill’s impacts on the surrounding population, regional air, water and wildlife habitat. We are concerned with the impacts on the regional economy.

We are opposed to renewed uranium extraction and processing in this region before we have cleaned up the massive toxic mess remaining from past uranium booms. We are concerned with the legacy we will leave for the next generations.

The toxic trail of uranium production has littered the Uravan Mineral Belt that follows the Dolores River from Dolores County to Mesa County, with over 1,500 unreclaimed uranium mines, the Uravan and Slickrock Superfund sites and several other highly contaminated brownfield sites.

Uranium claims in this region cover over 320,000 acres most of it public land.

The industry has left a legacy of death, cancer, birth defects and autoimmune dysfunction. It has cost taxpayers close to $1 billion in cleanup efforts in Colorado alone.

A 27-year-old mineworker was just killed last week in the La Sal uranium mine. 25 mine workers were killed in West Virginia in April. 11 workers were killed in the explosion in the Gulf and we now have an environmental catastrophe that will most likely impact the Gulf region for decades. 72 percent of uranium workers in New Mexico reported uranium-related medical conditions in a recent survey.

We recognize that the rural communities adjacent to this proposed mill have been impacted by the unsustainable boom and bust economy of the mining industry. We appreciate their desire for jobs they understand. As we continue to address the negative impacts from the mill proposal, we will also work with the EPA, the state of Colorado and state and federal lawmakers to bring remediation jobs to the region.

A 5-year remediation program just established in New Mexico will bring millions of dollars and jobs into the Grants Mineral Belt. Jobs that will help clean up the polluted legacy of uranium and long-term jobs from renewable energy development on brownfields.

The growing demand and ultimately the need for regionally grown food could provide long-term sustainable jobs for the surrounding communities.

Mining operations controlled by foreign companies supplying uranium to foreign markets have not and most likely will not.

Hilary White, Director
Sheep Mountain Alliance

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