A federal judge has put the brakes on a Department of Energy program to restart uranium mining in Colorado by ordering the agency to stop issuing exploration permits, because of potential impact on health and the environment, according to a report Thursday in the Denver Post
The ruling by U.S. District Judge William Martinez essentially reverses the leases already approved for 31 sites covering some 25,000 acres southwest of Grand Junction along the Dolores and San Miguel rivers.
In reaching his decision, Martinez took into account the past impact of uranium mining on the state’s environment and the health of its citizens. The Post pointed out that between 1992 and 2007 the federal government was forced to pay $577 million in settlements on 5,777 claims of radiation exposure.
In his opinion, Martinez wrote, the Energy Department “acted arbitrarily and capriciously in failing to analyze site-specific impacts” on people and the environment.
“The decision means federal overseers of the nation’s push to develop fuel for nuclear energy must proceed far more carefully and conduct a detailed analysis — with full public participation — of the likely effects that renewed uranium mining and milling would have on air, land, water, and people,” the Post noted in its coverage of the decision.
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