Opposition group softens stance | CraigDailyPress.com

Opposition group softens stance

Group willing to support uranium pit if owner cleans up radioactive dirt

Jim Ross hoped people would learn a lesson, but he brought a rope just in case there was a lynching.

The Craig Realtor made an unexpected appearance Friday at a meeting of a group whose goal was to stand in his way.

Now, it looks as if the two could form a partnership.

Ross owns property near Maybell, where uranium was mined in the 1950s. What’s left is a pit about 20 acres across and 200 feet deep and millions of tons of “overburden” that was piled to the sides of the pit when uranium was mined. That overburden is somewhat radioactive and already leeching into the rivers and floating through the air, Ross said.

He wants to clean it up. His plans are to get a permit to use the existing pit to collect that overburden, which would be contained by up to 25 feet of concrete.

It’s an expensive plan — one that’s only possible, Ross said, if treated as a business.

Accepting the same level of tailings from other sites — shipped via rail and in sealed containers — would fund the cleanup of Ross’ and other sites.

“My interest is not just in cleaning up my place, but the entire region,” Ross told the group.

The group, Northwest Colorado Cares, was formed to mount a protest against Ross’ plan to bring in even low-level radioactive waste from other areas, but on Friday, members decided to start working to see whether the state or federal government would pay to clean up Ross’s property or if other items — such as tires — could be used to fill the pit.

“If you want to clean up tailings on your site, we’d be happy to help, but if you’re bringing in ‘low-level’ waste from Rocky Flats, that’s not acceptable,” said Terrie Barrie, the group’s organizer. “Why don’t we help you with your site and let everyone else in the country worry about their stuff?”

Ross said he planned to be totally “transparent” and share all of his research and findings with the group and give tours of his property in the spring.

“I’m determined to do this, and I’m not going to back off of creating a new business out there,” he said. “There’s already low-level waste scattered all over out there.”

The bottom line, said Bernie Rose, is that there’s no way to remediate the area without it being a business.

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