Wednesday, July 21, 2010

County officials head to D.C. to push for continued funding for Atlas cleanup

Comment:  Again, no uranium mining anywhere, it will ruin our water, air and land plus our lives!

by Craig Bigler
contributing writer

Efforts by Grand County to lobby Congress to continue funding the Atlas uranium tailings cleanup effort are moving into a higher gear, county officials said this week.

Grand County Council members Bob Greenberg and Pat Holyoak, who represent the council on tailings removal matters, informed the council they will meet with federal officials in Washington, D.C., over several days during the first week of August.

Greenberg and Holyoak will make the county’s case that Congress should continue to provide funding at current levels even after federal stimulus funds run out at the end of September 2011, Greenberg said.

Sutley is a former member of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The council’s letter notes the Metropolitan Water District’s ongoing interest in removing the threat to water supplies downriver from Moab by relocating the 16 million tons of contaminated material away from the banks of the Colorado River.

The Colorado River is the primary source of drinking water for millions of people who live downstream of Moab in Nevada, Arizona and California.

The county delegation will go to Washington D.C. armed with a policy paper prepared by county staff. A copy of that paper, “Moab UMTRA Project: Keep it Moving,” was also sent to Sutley. The paper explains that the 16 million tons of Cold War-era uranium tailings now rest in an unlined pile, next to the Colorado River, threatening the water supplies for 22 million people.

The paper refers to periodic floods and windstorms that increase the likelihood of risks as long as the uranium tailings remain in their current location..

The 2008 Defense Authorization Bill mandated completion of the project by 2019, but it did not address funding to make that timeline possible.

The original Department of Energy plan will be put back in play if additional funding is not obtained, according to DOE officials. The DOE plan scheduled completion of the project by 2028.

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