Uranium tailings found in arena

Moffat County commissioners seek public input on future of indoor arena

The Board of County Commissioners wants public input on the possibility of building a new indoor roping arena. What they'd like know is whether town feels that building a new indoor arena is warranted, and whether it should be built now.

The commissioners plan to hold a series of public meetings on the issue. The dates of the meetings have not yet been decided upon.

The destruction of the present arena is fairly inevitable. Structural beams used in its construction are contaminated with uranium tailings; the beams were originally made near Maybell, where they were exposed to uranium tailings.

The County Commissioners had an independent consulting firm take radioactive readings. These readings were higher than Department of Energy estimates. The radioactivity is technically not at a threatening or unsafe level, but if the beams flake or crumble and people are exposed to these pieces and ingest them, there is a danger. A plan to repaint the beams for added safety was scrapped because the process of safeguarding the sandblasting process was as expensive as building a new arena because of the safety requirements and equipment the process necessitated.

If the building is torn down, the first concern is where the county would find alternate storage and utility space that would be lost. If alternate space can't be found, the schedule of construction of a new arena, if that becomes a reality, would have to coordinated with the destruction of the old one.

It is possible the company that built the arena may be liable for a portion of the cost of demolishing the old arena and building the new one. And, because of the radioactive materials necessitating the action, there will probably be greater access to outside monies.

Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos outlined some of the options available. The Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) fund, for example, is a program specifically designed to deal with construction decisions instigated by uranium tailings issues. The county is trying to acquire these funds.

The county also plans to apply for a variety of grants and other public monies to alleviate the cost of tearing down the present indoor arena and building a new site.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.