Gov. Bill Ritter concluded a two-day, five-city tour of southern Colorado this afternoon, visiting the banks of the Arkansas River near the Royal Gorge to sign legislation that will protect waterways and communities by increasing oversight of uranium mills.
"We all want a safe environment for our families, our children and our communities," Gov. Ritter said before signing House Bill 1348, a bipartisan measure sponsored by Rep. Buffie McFadyen and Sens. Ken Kester and Bob Bacon. "Future Coloradans will want to raft, kayak and fish this river, just as we're able to do today. It's up to us to make sure they get that opportunity. This bill will help make that happen."
HB 1348 requires operators of uranium mills to comply with all clean-up orders before new state permits for expansion or restructuring of operations are processed. The bill also requires operators to inform residents about threats to their water if residents have wells in close proximity to known groundwater contamination.
"We heard Canon City residents testify that the poison from the uranium processing plant has been tainting groundwater for decades," Rep. McFadyen said. "This bill simply requires uranium processors to clean up the old mess they've already made before accepting new materials that will create new waste. Having polluted groundwater harms the health and the economic development of the area. This bill sets the tone for the nation on what to do with uranium groundwater contamination."
Earlier today, Gov. Ritter held bill-signing ceremonies in Monte Vista and Pueblo. On Monday, he was in Cortez and Durango. He will be in Vail on Wednesday and back in the Denver area Thursday and Friday, which is the final day for him to act on bills from the 2010 legislative session.