Telluride environmental group sues Montrose County over uranium mill

Montrose County commissioners met in secret and had already made up their minds before approving a special use permit for a uranium mill in the Paradox Valley, a lawsuit filed in Montrose County District Court alleges.

The suit, filed by the Telluride-based environment organization Sheep Mountain Alliance, also accuses the commissioners of inadequately weighing the air and water quality impacts of an industrial milling operation in a valley zoned for agriculture.

Paradox Valley
Paradox Valley

The county attorney had not yet seen the suit and therefore couldn’t comment on its merits, according to the Telluride Daily Planet, but a representative of the company proposing the Piñon Ridge Mill, Energy Fuels of Ontario, Canada, said he expected such a delaying tactic.

“We’re not surprised,” Energy Fuels’ Environmental Manager Frank Filas told the Daily Planet. “It’s just a tactic to delay due process.”

Energy Fuels later this month still plans to begin what could be up to a year-long process to obtain a state permit for the mill, which they argue is needed given the growing interest in nuclear energy as a carbon-free power source that won’t contribute to global warming. Critics say the uranium mining and milling process is far too dirty to take that position, and that nuclear power plants leave too much waste that’s difficult to store.

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