Proposed uranium mill tailings storage site project

Proposed temporary uranium mill tailings storage site project and the location and extent review process
Posted on 10/25/2019

On Thursday, October 24, 2019, the La Plata County Planning Commission (PC) held a public hearing for the location and extent review requested by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for a temporary uranium mill tailings storage site at 1106 S US Hwy 550 at Bondad.  The proposal is to place a roll-off dumpster of a capacity up to 40 cubic yards on property owned by Colorado Department of Transportation, to be used to receive soil contaminated with uranium mill tailings from areas within La Plata County.  When the dumpster reaches its maximum weight capacity, it will be transported to Grand Junction, Colorado where the soil will be off-loaded for final disposal.  This site is anticipated to operate for approximately 2 years until a long-term storage facility is established.

A location and extent review is a statutory requirement and a review process, not a regulatory process.  The PC’s role is to provide a public forum for review of the project and then inform and advise other government units of the effects of their proposed action. 

At the meeting Thursday, the PC voted to disapprove the CDPHE Uranium Site project. At the meeting there was some uncertainty about the appeal process for a location and extent review. Because CDPHE is the applicant of the project, an appeal of the disapproval will go to CDPHE’s Board of Health and the Board of Health may vote to overrule the PC’s disapproval and proceed with the project.  The appeal of a location and extent review is not made to the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners unless a project is a county-initiated project and this one is not. 

Last night’s review was simply a “courtesy review” following the statute for location and extent projects and the outcome does not need to change CDPHE’s intended course of action or timing.  The public testimony and comments from the Planning Commission does however give the CDPHE more to consider.

Attached is a document outlining the location and extent legal background and clarifying a county’s role in the process.