The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is the sole regulator and licensing authority for certain radioactive materials uses in the state under the Colorado Radiation Control Act (25-11-101 et seq. C.R.S.) and an agreement between the Governor and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The federal government is not actively involved in regulating these materials in Colorado, but does review the state's Radiation Program to ensure that it meets or exceeds NRC standards. The review process required by Colorado statute is designed to ensure protection of both public health and the environment. It is at least as stringent as the NRC process, and encompasses a wide range of regulatory, technical, scientific and socioeconomic factors.
On November 18, 2009, Energy Fuels Resources Corp. submitted an application for a radioactive materials license that is required before the company can begin construction on a proposed uranium mill in Montrose County. The proposed site for the mill is approximately 12 miles west of Naturita in the Paradox Valley. The proposed mill would process up to 500 tons of ore per day, and would be the first uranium/vanadium mill built in the United States in more than 25 years.
The November 2009 license application to the department comprised 15 volumes, and department staff submitted more than 400 technical questions during the technical review. Substantial public comment was received through two statutory public meetings, six additional public meetings and the public comment process. The Montrose County Commissioners submitted comments on the Environmental Report, and public meetings held by Montrose County Commisioners, the applicant and the department yielded hundreds of stakeholder comments.
The department issued a Decision Document on January 5, 2011 approving the application with conditions. The Sheep Mountain Alliance and the towns of Telluride and Ophir appealed the decision and Denver District Judge John McMullen ruled on June 13, 2012, setting aside the license decision and ordering an adjudicatory hearing. The court ruled for the state on 10 of 11 of the plaintiff's claims, including all claims involving protection of public health and the environment. The court ruled against the department only on the 11th claim (regarding the hearing format) based upon a conflict in the Colorado Radiation Control Act and state radiation regulations.
Based on information presented in the November 2012 hearing, the hearing officer made a recommendation supporting the process to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on January 14, 2013. On January 25, 2013 several parties to the hearing (Sheep Mountain Alliance, Rocky Mountain Wild, Telluride, Ophir, San Miguel County and Dr. Robert Grossman) appealed the hearing officer's recommendations to the executive director of CDPHE. The CDPHE executive director denied the appeal on February 28, 2013.
The department aproved the application and issued the license on April 25, 2013. The license imposes a number of conditions on Envergy Fuels involving construction of the mill; the receipt, possession, use and transfer of radioactive materials; and procedures to minimize risks to property and public health and safety, and to prevent loss or theft of radioactive material. Notably, the license requires an enhanced groundwater monitoring plan, subject to annual review.
A separate settlement agreement between Telluride and San Miguel County with Envergy Fuels sets up additional protections related to the transportation of radioactive materials, blowing dust and water quality monitoring. In addition to the approximately $13 million financial surety established by the state, this agreement increases Energy Fuels' total surety to an amount not less than $15 million.
On May 24, 2013 the sheep Mountain Aliance and Rocky Mountain Wild filed for judicial review of the decsion in Denver District Court. This case is pending.
Energy Fuels Resources has submitted two documents to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in accordance with the requirements of its radioactive materials license for the Pinon Ridge Uranium Mill, including the Pinon Ridge Mill Decommissioning Funding Plan and Construction Plan, both dated May 24, 2013.
The department will hold a meeting to accept public comments on these documents at the Nucla Moose Lodge on August 13, 2013 from 6 to 9 p.m. Written comments may be submitted at the meeting or to the department by September 13, 2013. Please send these comments by mail, email or fax to:
Warren Smith, Community Involvement Manager
Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246-1530
Documents Available for Public Comment
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Energy Fuels submitted their application to the Air Pollution Control Division on August 5, 2009. the Air Pollution Control Division completed their review and issued the Initial Approval Construction Permit on July 24, 2013.
For More Information
The application and related documents are available to the public on this web page and at public repositories located at:
Nucla Public Library
544 Main Street
Nucla, CO 81424
Montrose County Planning and Development
317 S. 2nd Street
Montrose, CO 81401
Questions can be sent to email@example.com .