By Debi Brazzale, COLORADO NEWS AGENCY
House lawmakers agreed Monday that increased oversight to ensure groundwater is not contaminated from uranium processing is a good thing for Colorado’s water supply, and gave their final approval to House Bill 1348 before it moves to the Senate for consideration.
The measure requires that prior to obtaining a license to begin or expand uranium processing operations, the applicant has to show that the existing site is not in violation of existing environmental or public health laws.
House members considering the measure, sponsored by Rep. Buffie Mcfadyen, D-Pueblo West, were supportive in hearings last week citing the importance of water, a scarce resource in Colorado, that is clean and safe for use.
Republican Marsha Looper of Calhan told the committee that most of her district derives its water from groundwater, and said the measure is crucial to the state’s agriculture industry.
“Water is a precious resource for our state. We need to do our utmost to protect this important resource,” said Looper.
Looper went on to say that the processing of uranium ore has a terrible track record when it comes to groundwater contamination. According to Looper, Durango and Grand Junction are seeing increased levels of contamination decades after the uranium operations have ceased. Looper said she welcomes the additional accountability the measure would provide.
“We cannot afford to let companies act with impunity and not be held accountable-especially when it comes to our water,” said Looper.
Adding reinforcement to Looper’s comments was Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, a long time advocate for environmental concerns. Fischer told his colleagues that he has spent the last 20 years working on superfund sites and remediating abandoned mines all over the world and that the heartily supports McFadyen’s bill.
“This is a great step forward,” said Fischer. ”Let’s be sure that we are cleaning up the contamination that is there before we allow the expansion of plants