Denver, CO-The Environmental Protection Agency must allow for public comment on a plan to transfer up to 470,000 tons of radioactive mill tailings from New Jersey to Canon City, CO, according to a letter released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The organization alerted EPA that it must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) including rigorous input from the affected communities before it allows the Cotter Corporation to accept the waste, which will total roughly five full rail cars per day for up to five years making their way from New Jersey to Canon City for storage.
"The New Jersey waste shipments are the first of many that the Cotter Corporation could compete for in the lucrative waste disposal market," says Rocky Mountain PEER Director, Chandra Rosenthal. "This will open the floodgates for accepting other states' waste in Colorado. Coloradoans should have a say in whether the state will become another waste dump for the nation."
PEER requested that Governor Owens intervene to call for statewide public hearings on the matter.
"The public needs to be involved," stated Rosenthal. "An EIS would benefit the public by including a comprehensive analysis of alternatives including other places to send the waste, as well as include the public in the decision making process."
The Cotter Corporation Canon City Uranium Mill, located just outside Canon City, Colorado, is one of the only remaining conventional uranium mills in the country. Until now, Cotter has disposed mostly its own wastes at the site, along with some recent cleanups of Colorado sites contaminated with natural radioactivity, and some WWII era material from a site in St. Louis. Last year, two federal courts filed judgments against Cotter, ordering Cotter to pay a total of $59.3 million to 55 people exposed to radiation poisoning by the site.
New Jersey's Maywood Chemical Superfund site, the source of the radioactive material, is contaminated with radium, thorium, and uranium. Contamination at the commercial and residential properties resulted from rare earth and thorium processing activities from the early 1900s through 1959.
A copy of PEER's letter to EPA and Governor Owens is available by calling (303) 980-9710 and at: Activities
Rocky Mountain PEER
PO Box 280396
Lakewood, CO 80228