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Gazette Premium Content Groundwater-well clean-up bill logs first committee victory

photo - A 2008 file photo of Cotter Mill in Canon City, Colorado
(THE GAZETTE/KIRK SPEER) + caption
A 2008 file photo of Cotter Mill in Canon City, Colorado (THE GAZETTE/KIRK SPEER)
By Megan Schrader Updated: April 25, 2014 at 6:33 pm

DENVER -- A bill that would ensure higher levels of well-water cleanup at the Cotter Uranium Mill Superfund site in Cannon City and other radioactive remediation sites across the state won support of Democrats in its first committee Thursday and is moving forward.

Senate Bill 192 would require radioactive contamination to groundwater wells be cleaned up to levels that meet the standards of the Water Quality Control Commission for the well's historic use. For example if the well was historically used for drinking water, but that stopped when contamination was detected, the higher standard would still apply.

Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, introduced the bill on April 11, and it will likely be heard on the Senate floor next week.

"To this day, three-decades later, drinking and irrigation wells in the Lincoln Park neighborhood remain contaminated from the uranium mining operation," Hodge wrote in a statement about her bill. "Beyond Cotter, this bill would help Colorado establish a meaningful cleanup standard for future water well contamination around the state."

The bill also would place stricter controls over the 32 uranium mines that are still operational in Colorado and any new operations that apply for licenses.

It would require both uranium and thorium mines to meet strict technology requirements for the mining operations that would reduce the possibility of contamination.

Opponents of the bill testified in committee this week that it was unnecessary and could stall remediation of the Cotter site by interfering with the plan in place by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Contact Megan Schrader

719-286-0644

Twitter: @CapitolSchrader

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