A handful of local businesses showed their support for construction of a uranium mill in Montrose County, while environmental groups continue to oppose the mill.
Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce took a group of its business members to a public hearing today about Pinon Ridge Mill in Paradox Valley, which is located between Naturita and Bedrock.
Diane Schwenke, CEO of the Chamber, said the mill would create around 1,000 jobs for the Western Slope area, boosting Grand Junction's economy.
"We are a regional center and if the communities and counties around us have good paying jobs, we know that those folks are going to come to our area, they're going to shop and use our medical facilities," Schwenke said. "From our standpoint, it just makes good economic sense to support it."
Schwenke said local construction and trucking companies in Grand Junction have been assured they would be engaged in the construction of the mill.
Colorado Department of Health and Environment issued a radioactive materials license to Toronto-based Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. in 2011. Since then, the Sheep Mountain alliance, an environmental group based in Telluride, argued filed a lawsuit arguing the public had not been given enough opportunity to comment on construction of the mill.
Since last Wednesday, a series of public hearings have allowed residents and community members to provide input.
Sarah Fields, program director for the non-profit organization Uranium Watch, said the jobs the mill would provide would not be consistent, citing the "boom and bust" cycle of uranium mills. She also argued not enough regulation exists to enable safe uranium mining.
"There just isn't enough enforcement of existing regulations and that's where the public comes in because whether or not you support something, you support and demand adequate regulation," Fields said. "If you don't have that, the industry gets away with things and there ends up being contamination."
To sign the petition to stop the construction of Pinon Ridge Uranium Mill, visit: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-the-pinon-ridge-mill/. To sign a petition to support construction of the mill, visit:http://www.votervoice.net/link/target/gjcc/gzyPJW9W.aspx