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Hannah, Young: A match made in protest heaven

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August 30, 2018, 8:29 am

I met and interviewed actress and activist Daryl Hannah a bit by accident in Montrose, Colo., in 2009 when she was attending a county commissioner hearing for proposed uranium mill that never got built.

Daryl Hannah

Daryl Hannah (Wiki Commons photo).

I saw rock legend Neil Young in concert purely by happenstance sometime in the early 90s when he walked onto stage at the American Music Festival in Winter Park, Colo., to join headliners Lyle Lovett and Bonnie Raitt. Young’s son was attending the nearby Easterseals

neil young

Neil Young (Wiki Commons photo).

Rocky Mountain Village in Empire, and Young just stopped by to jam.

Now Young and Hannah have reportedly married in California and Washington state.

I long admired Hannah’s passion for environmental causes and in retrospect her resistance against alleged predator producer Harvey Weinstein. And knowing now how private and to some degree media-shy she can be, I’m glad she gave me that interview in the Montrose county building that day (see the re-posted Colorado Independent story below).

Young will always live large in my musical memory for his classic protest songs (“Ohio”, “After The Goldrush” and “Rockin’ in the Free World”), his influence in the 1990s grunge movement and that classic “Old Man” bit with Jimmy Fallon.

Now here’s that re-post of my Sept. 30, 2009 Colorado Independent interview with Hannah:

Montrose County faces divisive uranium mill permit decision

MONTROSE — Actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah says all the heated rhetoric over who should have the most say about the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill — western Montrose County mining families or affluent residents of Telluride and surrounding San Miguel County — is a moot point to Mother Earth.

The O Zone by David O. Williams

The O. Zone
by David O. Williams

“The earth doesn’t know about these sorts of lines that we draw,” said Hannah, who didn’t want to reveal what town in San Miguel County she lives in, but did say it isn’t Telluride. “These boundaries and these borders are manmade, but the air and the water and the soil and the wildlife don’t really recognize those boundaries.”

Supporters of the Piñon Ridge mill, proposed by Canada-based Energy Fuels for the Paradox Valley on the western edge of Montrose County, say the plan will revive the area’s long-dormant uranium-mining industry and provide a much-needed economic boost. But determined opposition cites health risks, environmental issues and transportation problems in seeking to block the mill.

In a special meeting this morning, Montrose County commissioners will have to weigh the potential risks against the possible rewards of reviving the yellowcake boom in the area around the toxic ghost town of Uravan, which produced some of the uranium ore for the first atomic bomb produced by the Manhattan Project. The commissioners have to decide on a special-use permit for Piñon Ridge because the land is currently zoned agricultural.

“It’s kind of mindboggling to me to hear people say I worked at the Uravan mill, and it was a booming economy at the time and I wish that we could go back to it,” Hannah said of the EPA Superfund site, which she said she lives closer to than most Montrose County residents.

“But you look at Uravan now and it’s completely fenced off and it says, ‘Radioactive, do not enter, dangerous, use caution.’ The whole thing was torn down and you can’t even climb around in there, you can’t even go for walk in there. It’s a completely toxic waste site now.”

Proponents say technology and government regulation have improved dramatically since the atomic heyday of the 1950s and ’60s, and they point to growing demand for nuclear power as a carbon-free power source to combat global warming.

Even Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, once hesitant to push for a full revival of the nuclear power industry, joined a Republican colleague, John McCain of Arizona, in calling for nuclear as a “part of the mix” that will reduce dependence on fossil fuels and hopefully reverse climate change. The two addressed the topic together late last month in Estes Park.

Udall on Tuesday clarified his position to The Colorado Independent as it relates to a revival of Colorado’s uranium-mining industry:

“You can’t consider expanding nuclear power without uranium mining, but that does not mean supporting irresponsible mining,” Udall said. “It’s important that the state — which is the delegated agency for permitting authority for uranium mining — ensures that uranium mining is done safely, responsibly and with the full input of the affected communities.”

Energy Fuels is expected to apply for a permit from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment by the end of next month. Environmentalists want the county commissioners to put off their decision until the state has fully analyzed the Piñon Ridge plan.

“We would prefer that they would deny this altogether, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, so we would like them to delay their decision until there’s more information available from the state,” said Hilary White of the Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance. “Our organization is considering a legal challenge of any approval [the commissioners] issue.”

Meanwhile, a front page story in the Montrose Daily Press on Tuesday focused on federal litigation aimed at forcing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other agencies to perform comprehensive environmental impact studies (EIS) on expanded uranium mining in the area under the National Environmental Policy Act(NEPA).

In 2007, the DOE’s Office of Legacy Management Uranium Leasing Program assessed no impacts from extending leases for 13 existing uranium mines and up to another 25 mines in western Colorado. On behalf of a coalition of environmental groups, the Durango-based Energy Minerals Law Center and managing attorney Travis Stills filed suit against the DOE.

“Travis Stills doesn’t want to see any uranium mining or milling of any kind. He’s out to stop us,” Energy Fuels CEO George Glasier told the Montrose Daily Press. “If DOE, [the Bureau of Land Management] and [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] end up having to do EISes on whatever facilities the courts or agencies decide, then the final output of that is one more regulatory process we will comply with, but it is a federal problem and not Energy Fuels.”

Stills told the paper: “I’m waiting for a mill that is totally responsive to protecting the environment and workers and that recognizes the great risks involved. So far Energy Fuels is a back-of-the-envelope project. We have to see what they really plan to do.”

 

 

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

5 Responses to Hannah, Young: A match made in protest heaven

  1. Slick Adams Reply

    August 30, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    More Stills and less Hannah and Young, please. Mr. Glasier continues to mine investors with Western Uranium Corp. Pinon Ridge Mill license was recently revoked by the CDPHE, Glasier can’t get traction with ablation or restarting the Sunday Mine Complex, but the share price has spiked in recent days. Investors beware…

  2. Slick Adams Reply

    September 23, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    In a recent development, uranium mining promoter George Glasier announced that Western Uranium would not be selling the Sage uranium/vanadium mine to Australian startup Battery Mineral Resources, as announced in June The mine, located in San Miguel County, Colorado, and San Juan County, Utah, has been idle for nearly 30 years. This has been a tough year for Glasier, with the State of Colorado revoking his uranium mill license, the resignation/firing of his business partner Russell Fryer, the inability to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to overturn Colorado regulators’ determination that uranium ablation processing requires licensing, and now the Sage Mine deal collapse. All this after 2017’s failure to acquire the Graysill Mine, an abandoned uranium/vanadium mine located between the Purgatory ski area and Rico, Colorado.

  3. Slick Adams Reply

    October 24, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    George Glasier continues on his mission to mine US and Canadian investors. The founder and CEO of Western Uranium and Vanadium (WUC:CSE) recently hired stock pumper Michael Ballanger to write a series of glowing articles on WUC that succeeded in boosting the company’s share price. During this time there was no news that WUC was advancing any of its uranium/vanadium projects towards production. The primary catalyst appears to be an increase in international prices for vanadium. Vanadium is used primarily to harden steel, but is also used in the emerging technology of vanadium redox batteries, which may provide a means of storing electricity from renewable energy sources. The problem is that Glasier and Ballanger may be overstating the amount of vanadium held by WUC. Glasier, Ballanger, and various tweeters are touting vanadium resources that far exceed amounts verified by exploration drilling and sampling. Glasier recently has acknowledged that further drilling is needed, but this has not stopped him and others from making unverified assertions in public forums, assertions that may run afoul of Canadian and US securities regulations.

  4. Slick Adams Reply

    April 8, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    Interesting that nearly a year after the Pinon Ridge uranium mill license was revoked by Colorado regulators, George Glasier is telling investors that not only is the mill license still in effect but that there are uranium recovery facilities at the Pinon Ridge mill site. As usual, the Ontario Securities Commission and the SEC aren’t paying attention. https://webfiles.thecse.com/sedar_filings/00026200/1904011635344923.pdf

  5. Slick Adams Reply

    July 26, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    Bad news for Mr. Glasier:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    July 26, 2019

    Contact:
    Jeff Parsons wmap@igc.org 720-203-2871
    Jennifer Thurston jennifer@informcolorado.org 970-8597456
    Lexi Tuddenham lexi@sheepmountainalliance.org 970-728-3729
    Brendan McLaughlin bmclaughlin@earthworksaction.org 206-892-8832
    Travis Stills stills@frontier.net 970-375-9231

    Colorado Appeals Court Orders Closure and Cleanup of Neglected Uranium Mine

    Court ruling signals end of ‘zombie mine’ era

    A decision from the Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday has ordered the closure and reclamation of a long-dormant uranium mine in western Montrose County. The court ruling reaffirmed state law that requires the reclamation of mines within 10 years of ceasing production and ordered a cleanup of the Van 4 Mine after determining that it had not operated since at least 1989.

    “Colorado law does not allow inactive mines to remain unproductive yet unreclaimed for decades because they pose environmental threats and prevent otherwise beneficial uses of the land,” said Jeffrey C. Parsons, senior attorney with the Western Mining Action Project based in Lyons, Colo., the firm that represented conservation groups in the case. “The Court recognized the plain language of the statute and clear intent of the legislature. We see this decision as the beginning of the end of the zombie uranium mine era in Colorado.”

    The Information Network for Responsible Mining (INFORM), Sheep Mountain Alliance and Earthworks sued the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board after the Board voted to approve an extended period of “temporary cessation” for the Van 4 Mine, despite the fact that the state mining law limits that idle period to 10 years.

    Despite a 1977 state law that requires all mines to be fully reclaimed after mining ends, state regulators did not enforce the law for several decades. As a result, several dozen uranium mines on the Western Slope were never cleaned up despite having ceased operations in the 1980s, as operators continued to find loopholes that allowed them to postpone cleanups indefinitely.

    “It’s vital that mines are reclaimed once they’re done producing to protect public health, wildlife habitat and the environment,” said Jennifer Thurston, director of INFORM. “When they operate, mines provide important economic benefits, but if they are left unreclaimed once they’re done mining, at that point the only thing we get back from them is pollution.”

    The Van 4 Mine is located on top of Bull Canyon near the Dolores River Canyon Wilderness Study Area, and is within designated critical habitat for Gunnison Sage Grouse, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The area is a popular destination for recreation and was a historically important uranium mining district.

    “Cleaning up old mines is important to the regional economy that is reliant on public lands,” said Lexi Tuddenham, director of Sheep Mountain Alliance. “Reclamation projects also create jobs in rural communities that are trying to diversify their economies. We’re pleased with this decision because it provides local benefits while helping us create a regional economy where conservation and recreation strike a balance with traditional industries.”

    The Van 4 Mine was constructed in the late 1970s but had only a short run before going idle in the uranium bust that followed. Since receiving its current, active permit in 1997, the mine has had no record of ore production. The permit for the Van 4 Mine is currently held by Piñon Ridge Mining LLC, a subsidiary of Western Uranium Corporation.

    “The problem of zombie mines is widespread in the West,” said Pete Dronkers, Southwest Circuit Rider with Earthworks. “Thousands of mines have been allowed to slip through and irresponsible mining companies have repeatedly been left off the hook. This decision is encouraging, and Colorado can now take a step forward in getting neglected mines cleaned up.”

    Final reclamation of a site – which generally entails the revegetation of surface lands to support wildlife as well as final containment and stabilization of mining waste – is required after mining ceases in order to return the land to “beneficial public use” as required by state law.

    Colorado has more uranium mines than any other state, with an estimated 3,000 mines that produced uranium since the 1890s, mostly on the Western Slope. There are 31 uranium mines currently permitted by the state, and only a few have been fully reclaimed. The last of these mines stopped operating in 2009.

    The court decision can be accessed online at: http://bit.ly/2SKMYr5

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