Uranium mill cleanup bill sails through House by 62-2 vote

A bill that would require uranium mills to clean up past toxic pollution before applying to expand processing operations passed the state House on third reading Monday, sailing through on a 62-2 vote.

House Bill 1348 (pdf), the Uranium Processing Accountability Act, also would require companies to notify residents with drinking water wells near radioactive contamination from milling operations and provides for more public input during state review of cleanup measures.

Rep. Carole Murray (R-Castle Rock) and Rep. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs) cast the only dissenting votes on the bill, which now moves on to a Senate committee.

“Today’s vote is absolutely amazing,” Matthew Garrington, program advocate of Environment Colorado, said in a release. “Never before have we seen such strong bipartisan support on uranium legislation.”

The bill was prompted by a statewide surge in interest in uranium mining and milling – formerly a major Colorado industry – brought on in part by calls for more nuclear power to offset greenhouse gas emissions to help curtail global warming.

Environmentalists are leery of a “nuclear renaissance” because of the toxic history of uranium mining in Colorado and the huge taxpayer costs associated with EPA Superfund cleanup sites.

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