As if there was not enough to worry about with oil pipeline leaks springing up almost weekly, now a Uranium Mill in Colorado has leaked 9,000 gallons of toxic water into the ground. Since the late nineteen fifties Cotter Corporation’s Uranium mine, just south of Canon City, Colorado, has been racking up fines from health department due to its unsafe, and barely regulated practice of extracting Uranium from the ground.
Cotter Mill is, actually, not a running mill, and has been in the process of closing down for at least ten years. However, Cotter Corporation is trying to slowly disappear, leaving contaminated lands with no cleanup efforts, to the local community. Inspections still occur due to their large underground pipe system, and an inspection was even done earlier this week.
The health department maximum level of safe Uranium concentration is thirty micrograms per liter. The amount of Uranium concentrated into the 9,000 gallons that has been spilled into the soil is over eight hundred micrograms per liter, a shockingly dangerous number. Warren Smith, a manger in the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division of the Health Department, speaking of the safety of this spill says:
There is no public health risk here, because there is no exposure to the public. Health risk depends on two factors: the release and exposure. If there’s no receptor to be exposed to it, where’s the risk?
This comment seems all too familiar; a response that is given every time there is a spill of any kind, that is not in the direct vicinity of a public area. However, dangerous levels of Uranium contaminated water leaking into the soil, underground can’t be completely free of possible human dangers.
The ultimate point of this whole incident, like oil pipelines, there needs to be closer and stronger regulations when dealing with hazardous materials. This should not be something that is left to the company to regulate.