On the same day the San Miguel County Board of Commissioners approved its strongly worded comments criticizing the U.S. Department of Energy’s uranium leasing program environmental impact statement, the DOE announced it was extending the comment period for a second time.
In its comments to the DOE, San Miguel County said it has serious concerns with the DOE’s programmatic environmental impact statement. It is concerned that any uranium reserves that are developed will not be used domestically, but exported instead, how radioactive waste would be disposed of and that there are not adequate protections of water quality in the Dolores River. The county is also concerned about how potential noise impacts from activities on the lease tracts would affect residents, and the potential exposure of the public to radon gas.
“San Miguel County believes the DOE needs to analyze additional alternatives,” the BOCC wrote in its comments. “The PEIS should contain an alternative with a hierarchical ranking of the lease tracts based on their environmental sensitivity. If it is determined to be necessary to develop these reserves to meet our domestic energy needs, it should be done in a way that protects the environment to the greatest possible degree.”
San Miguel County Commissioner Joan May said the county wasn’t satisfied with any of the four alternatives presented by the DOE and wants the federal agency to go further. In the comments, commissioners suggest an additional alternative of terminating the uranium leases, reclaiming the tracts and developing them for renewable energy.
“We are really trying to get San Miguel County residents to know of all of the issues out there, this is the most specific to San Miguel County,” May said. “San Miguel County is a very important player in the uranium discussion. We are a very uranium-rich county. We really would like the DOE to hear from constituents … Who in this country wants us to take our uranium sources out of the country and sell them to other countries?”