Feb 042008

In response to a proposed uranium-mining project near Wellington and Nunn, three students have come together to try and provoke further research into the proposed site.

Powertech Uranium Corporation, a uranium-mining company, is trying to gain licensure from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and hopes to begin drilling in the area by 2010. It’s a proposal that has caught the attention of nearby residents in the counties of Larimer and Weld County, who are concerned with the potential effects the mine would have on their health and the environment.

Christine Sednek, a junior environmental engineering major, Ginny Sednek, a senior wildlife biology and fishery biology major and Mallory Kendall, a junior landscape architecture major, originally became involved because of a research paper Christine wrote for her Pollution Control Engineering class.

“After researching, I felt it was a concern for this area and I didn’t just want to know about this, I wanted to act on it by petitioning against it,” Christine said. “Actually doing something about it is when you learn about the world and how it works.”

“I think changes need to happen soon because of the state the environment is in right now. I love our planet and I want to work toward keeping it clean,” Christine said.

Should Powertech be granted permission to go forth with the Centennial Project, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits there are potential health risks, but the extent of uranium mining impacts is not entirely certain.

In a 1983 report to Congress, the EPA outlined possible health effects from uranium mining, but was uncertain about the level exposure that people will experience.

The report acknowledged that the possible health effects, from an average-sized mine, can reach people 50 miles from the site. People within range could be subject to breathing air containing windblown dust and radon decay products that come from on-site piles or impoundments. According to the report, citizens ran the risk of drinking water that contained traces of uranium and it’s decay products.

Thomas Johnson, assistant professor of environmental and radiological health sciences, does not see nuclear power as a bad energy source. He explains that even solar panels have repercussions because they will wear out and once they do, they have to be disposed of properly because of the arsenic they contain.

“There is no such thing as a free lunch, everything comes at a cost,” Johnson said.

Senior Reporter Kaeli West can be reached at news@collegian.com

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