Coram closing controversial uranium mines

Coram closing controversial uranium mines

The headframe of the C-JD-5 uranium mine, above the Paradox Valley in Montrose County, is seen June 22, 2012. State Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, owns the mine, and he notified the state in May of his intention to shut it down and clean it up. The mine has not produced uranium in three decades.
A yellowish-green tinge on a rock shows telltale signs of uranium near the C-JD-5 uranium mine, in this picture from June 22, 2012. State Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, owns the mine, and he notified the state in May of his intention to shut it down and clean it up. The mine has not produced uranium in three decades.
A waste pile sits outside the C-JD-5 uranium mine, overlooking the Paradox Valley in Montrose County, in this picture from June 22, 2012. State Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, owns the mine, and he notified the state in May of his intention to shut it down and clean it up. The mine has not produced uranium in three decades.
A visit to one of Gold Eagle's mines

A drive on a uranium-flecked dirt road above the remote Paradox Valley shows what kind of work will be in store for Don Coram as he begins to clean up the old uranium mines his company bought in 1998.

The metal headframe of Gold Eagle Mining's C-JD-5 mine is the first mine drivers see on the main county road to the top of the mesa on the south side of the valley.

Although reclamation work includes removing structures such as a rickety-looking building, some structures - like the headframe - might stay because they have historic value. The Cold War years were boom times for uranium miners as the United States built its nuclear arsenal. Many of the abandoned mines still dot the landscape of the Colorado Plateau. On the other side of the road is a pile of waste rock from the mine, with bright yellow or green flecks visible on the rocks. The pile is taller than six feet, and it has been there so long that small trees are growing out of it.Miners and their critics have opposite opinions about the waste pile and dozens of others just like it above the Paradox Valley. If water that runs off waste piles makes its way to a river, it could carry radioactive materials and other toxic heavy metals. But miners maintain the risk of this happening is low.

Bob Oswald, an inspector by the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, noted in May that the piles at Coram's mine have steep slopes - steeper than he would normally approve in a reclamation plan because of the risk of erosion. But the piles at Coram's mine appear to be stable and well-vegetated, so Oswald does not recommend flattening them out.

Coram has until May 2014 to finish work here and at three mines in Slick Rock. Tony Waldron of the mining division thinks that enough time to clean up mines that have been idle for at least three decades.

'I don't think it's going to be a very complicated reclamation project,' he said.

joeh@cortezjournal.com

Coram closing controversial uranium mines

The headframe of the C-JD-5 uranium mine, above the Paradox Valley in Montrose County, is seen June 22, 2012. State Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, owns the mine, and he notified the state in May of his intention to shut it down and clean it up. The mine has not produced uranium in three decades.
A yellowish-green tinge on a rock shows telltale signs of uranium near the C-JD-5 uranium mine, in this picture from June 22, 2012. State Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, owns the mine, and he notified the state in May of his intention to shut it down and clean it up. The mine has not produced uranium in three decades.
A waste pile sits outside the C-JD-5 uranium mine, overlooking the Paradox Valley in Montrose County, in this picture from June 22, 2012. State Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, owns the mine, and he notified the state in May of his intention to shut it down and clean it up. The mine has not produced uranium in three decades.