Health physicist to examine indoor arena for uranium tailings

The Moffat County Commissioners and the Rio Caromo Board of Directors have agreed to hire a health physicist to examine the Indoor Roping Arena and determine if there is a health risk, and if so, what needs to be done to handle that risk.

The beams used in the initial construction of the Indoor Arena were exposed to, and contaminated with, uranium tailings, and officials want a Health Risk Assessment done to determine if these tailings pose a risk to those who use the arena.

Shane Brightwell, a certified health physicist with Professional Radiological Consulting, Inc. of Loveland, Colo., has been hired to begin examining the indoor arena.

The last details to be worked out are the financial compensation Professional Radiological Consulting, Inc. will receive, and what the safe levels of exposure and contact actually are, according to Carrol Bastow, administrative clerk for Moffat County Administrative Services.

"We need to find out what the safety limits are, since several different departments, like the Department of Energy and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, don't agree what they are. That will be Shane's first job: to determine the scope of the project, which hinges on getting the guidelines pinned down," Bastow said. "Shane is completely unbiased. He's not on [anyone's] side. His only concern is determining the safety issue, regardless of who that does and does not make happy."

The project will take approximately six weeks, and the final financial deal and the safety guidelines were expected to be determined at today's County Commissioners meeting.

The goal is to have the work completed by the end of August.

Dale Haskins, president of the Rio Caromo Board of Directors, is satisfied with the selection, as is the rest of the board.

"I think it's a good selection," Haskins said. "I can't really tell much about someone until I meet him and hear him speak. We did that, and we're satisfied. Shane is more than qualified. He's a bright young man."

The Rio Caromo board agrees that if the Indoor Arena is a risk, it needs to be torn down, but they want to be sure the Arena is actually a risk, and that destroying the building is the only option to handle the situation.

"We don't think the building should be torn down if there are other possibilities available," Haskins said. "If it is a health risk, tear it down. If it isn't, it should be left where it is. Let's not cut off our nose to spite our face.

"That's not to say the county doesn't need a multi-use indoor facility, we do since we are the hub of Northwest Colorado, but the arena would still get plenty of use even with a new facility, no doubt about it. But, if there is no conceivable way to save the building if it is a health risk, then get rid off it."

The Rio Caromo Board of Directors and the County Commissioners wanted another, independent examination to be done since other examinations have conflicted with each other, and the Commissioners and the Board have disagreed about which report is the most reliable. One examination was done by a government agency and the other done by an independent contractor.

"The youth of Moffat County use the arena more than anyone, and [Rio Caromo] wants to remain on the same course we've historically been on," Haskins said. "We don't want to see the building torn down, and there are possibilities where it doesn't have to be."

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