Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

LARIMER COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY BOARD (EAB)

 MEETING MINUTES

February 12, 2008

 

 

Members In Attendance:

 

Guests:

Mike Erickson

 

Michael Beshore, Powertech Uranium Corp

David Gilkey

 

Terry Walsh, Powertech Uranium Corp

Dale Lockwood

 

Jim Licko, Powetech Uranium Corp

Todd McCowin

 

Nick Young

Kate Muldoon

 

Jim Woodward

Devin Odell

 

Carol Parr, CDOT

Tom Sneider

 

Gina McAfee, Carter and Bergess Inc.

Heidi Steltzer

 

Tyler Keck, CSU Environmental Health

Sherm Worthington

 

 

Bill Zawacki

 

Commissioner:

 

 

Randy Eubanks

 

 

 

 

 

Staff:

 

 

Doug Ryan

 

Introduction of Members and Guests:

Those in attendance introduced themselves.

 

Citizen Comments:

Terry Walsh from Powetech Uranium Corporation indicted that he would be available to answer any questions the EAB had about uranium mining issues.

 

Michael Beshore from Power Tech Corporation noted that the U.S. generates about 20% of its power from nuclear plants, and that about 95% of the uranium fuel they use is imported.  He is in favor of increasing the percentage of uranium obtained from this country, and believes that Colorado’s regulations for uranium mining are very stringent and protective of the environment and people.  Mr. Beshore has studied the local area, and believes that the proposed Centennial in-situ project is a good place for uranium production from a safety standpoint. 

 

Discussion Items:

North I-25 EIS.  Gina McAfee and Carol Parr provided an overview of the current status of the environmental impact statement for this regional transportation study.  Scoping for the project began in 2004.  Currently the draft EIS is being prepared for release in the summer of 2008.  The purpose is to evaluate transportation alternatives for the north I-25 corridor through the year 2030.  Three alternatives are currently being analyzed for the draft EIS.  The no-action alternative is the baseline case that incorporates only currently planned projects.  Package A includes lane additions on I-25 as well as commuter rail from Fort Collins traveling through Loveland and Berthoud and connecting with the Fast Tracks transit system in both Longmont and Denver Union Station.  Commuter bus service along the Hwy 85 corridor and a system of east-west feeder bus routes are also included.  Package B includes toll-express lanes in 1-25 with a buss-rapid transit system traveling in those lanes.  Feeder bus routes are also planned for this alternative. 

 

Gina McAfee used a power point presentation to overview the preliminary findings.  Topics covered included the impacts of each alternative on mobility, land use patterns, the need for residential or business relocations, air quality, noise and vibration, water resources, wetlands, floodplains, wildlife, historic preservation, hazardous materials, parks, farmlands and public safety.  Current information on the EIS is available at the project website at: www.cdot.info/northi25eis/

 

Each of the action alternatives (Package A and B) has been designed to meet the purpose and need for regional transportation through 2030.  It was pointed out that for many of the issues evaluated the level of expected impacts is similar for each alternative.  For example, there is not an appreciable difference in air quality benefits or impacts between the alternatives.  One area where the differences are appreciable is land use.  In Package A the provisions for commuter rail would shift growth towards urban centers along the rail line.  Package B, with bus-rapid transit along the interstate, would provide less incentive for transit-oriented development and market-driven growth would continue to be focused along I-25. 

 

The release of the draft EIS this summer will be an opportunity for the communities to express their preferences.  Given that each alternative will be designed to meet the basic transportation needs, it was noted that the selection of the preferred alternative can be impacted to a large degree by the active engagement of local officials working together to promote the package that best meets their vision for the region.  The Advisory Board has been considering the issue of regional cooperation for addressing important environmental priorities.  The members indicated that they want to hold further discussions about the EIS and the advisability of further communications with the County Commissioners at their March meeting. 

 

Uranium Report.  The Advisory Board reviewed the final draft report to the County Commissioners on the environmental issues associated with uranium mining.  This report was prepared in response to a request from the Commissioners.  A committee was formed to review relevant scientific literature and government reports on the environmental impacts associated with mining to the air, water and land.  Devin Odell moved, and Bill Zawacki seconded a motion to approve the report as presented at the meeting.  The motion passed unanimously. 

 

Dale Lockwood provided an overview of the report for those in attendance.  The report addresses the environmental issues of uranium mining in general.  It is hoped that the information about the mining process and associated risks will assist the in the review of the anticipated formal uranium mining application by Powertech Uranium Corporation for their Weld County Centennial site.  The Advisory Board’s report is available on the County’s website at www.larimer.org

 

Members of the visiting public made a number of comments about the Powertech proposal.  Michael Beshore indicted that at this time Powertech plans to use in-situ mining only, and not open pit mining.  Nick Young stated that based on his chemical engineering background he is concerned about the high level of risk that the mining operation could have in the community.  Jim Woodward indicated that he runs a website about the proposed operation, and that he is not convinced that Powertech has fully committed to not conduct open pit mining. 

 

BCC Liaison Comments:

Commissioner Eubanks indicated that the County Commissioners have held recent discussions about a number of sensitive environmental issues lately.  These include the proposed radio tower on Bald Mountain, and the Boxelder Creek drainage project.  Depending on how those discussions progress, the Commissioners might ask the EAB to review some of the information.

 

Chair’s Comments:

Dale Lockwood noted that Dave Gilkey and Doug Ryan attended the uranium symposium and workshop that was held on February 2 at Colorado State University.  Dr. Gilkey and Mr. Ryan both indicted that the information provided was very useful and relevant for the current discussion about uranium mining. 

 

Election of Officers:

Dale Lockwood was elected Chair and Dave Gilkey Vice-chair for 2008.

 

Approval of Minutes:

Minutes from the October, November and December 2007 meetings were approved as submitted.

 

Updates: 

Todd McCowin asked about the current activities of the staff-level Green Practices Committee.  Mr. Ryan indicated that this month the Committee is working on completing the annual data report for Climate Wise and that the Committee plans on considering goals for this year in February and March.

 

Doug Ryan provided a brief overview of the issue of mercury emissions from crematoria that was considered by the County Commissioners at a public hearing on February 11 related to a proposal to relocate two crematoria to the Resthaven Memorial Gardens.  The Commissioners denied the land use Special Review application in part because the applicant would not commit to install a scrubber on the stack to remove mercury. 

 

EAB Issue Index:

Doug Ryan will update the Issue Index for those topics discussed at the meeting.  Devin Odell was added as an EAB coordinator related to the North I-25 EIS project. 

 

Summary of BCC Communication Issues:

The uranium report was submitted to Commissioner Eubanks for consideration by the Commissioners.

 

March Meeting Agenda:

Continuation of the Advisory Board’s discussion about the North I-25 EIS.

 

Adjourn:

The meeting ended at 8:15 pm. 

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.