Federal regulators are accusing Colorado health officials of cutting corners in order to license the nation’s first new uranium mill since the end of the Cold War.
According to the Denver Post
, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has ordered the state Department of Public Health and Environment to hold a formal public hearing process to ensure that the mill — to be built by Energy Fuels Resources at a cost of $150 million — addresses safety and environmental concerns.
The mill, to be built between two rivers on the Western Slope, was licensed by the state last year.
The Post reported Thursday the NRC has informed the state it has verified complaints from opponents of the mill that the licensing process was flawed. The agency is insisting the state improve its public review process for uranium activities.
“We want them to provide a public hearing, and when we say hearing, we do not mean a public meeting,” NRC spokesman David McIntyre told the newspaper.
“A public hearing is a legal process,” he added, including testimony and adjudication. “Their process needs to have the opportunity for public hearings in general.”
The NRC’s order did not sit well with local residents in the southwestern part of the state, where the new mill is being built. They said the facility would add at least 85 new jobs to the area.
“We’re the first ones who don’t want the mill to be unsafe, but, so far, we don’t see any reason to stop it — or we would stop it ourselves,” John Reams, chief of the Tomcat Mining construction company in Naturita, told the Post. “We can’t sustain ourselves on tourism. We need steady jobs.”
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