Colorado

Aug 18, 2010 7:51 PM by David Ortiviz

Cotter uranium mill on track to close

A uranium mill that has operated in Canon City for decades is now on track to permanently close. The Cotter Corporation now says it plans to shut down containment ponds that store millions of tons of toxic waste. Without containment ponds, the mill can't operate.

The Cotter Uranium Mill sits a few miles south of Canon City. The containment ponds that hold toxic waste have leaked and contaminated groundwater around the mill. Now, in a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cotter says it will close the ponds "as soon as reasonably achievable."

"They can't operate without impoundment ponds that's where the waste goes," said Sharyn Cunningham. Cunningham and Carol Dunn run Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste, a group that opposes the cotter mill.

"We're happy--the thing we're concerned about is that the public-we have not seen a decommissioning and reclamation plan," said Cunningham.

Some demolition at the mill has begun. In that letter to the EPA, Cotter says it's started to "dismantle structures and facilities no longer considered useful."

For Dunn and Cunningham, their main concern making sure clean-up is done safely. "I believe we have health problems--but you know I'm not going to try to prove that--I don't care I just don't want to see anyone else exposed," said Cunningham.

"They have been able to operate in this area for many many year successfully--now if they can't, they need to take care of the mess they've made and make sure it's safe for future generations," said Dunn.

The Cotter Mill is an EPA Superfund site that means it has federal priority to be cleaned-up.

Cotter representatives are expected to speak at a public meeting Thursday night. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at Garden Park High School on the corner of Macon Ave. and 6th St. in Canon City.

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