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Old 08-21-2007, 12:17 AM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
10,972 posts, read 14,627,751 times
Reputation: 11417

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I was recently offered a job in Canon City (like last week) when my family and I were out on vacation. Being from West Virginia, I personally liked the town and the folks that were in it. Hell- I even met a fellow that worked at the hotel as night clerk that was from Beckley WV!

Everyone I spoke to seemed to echo each other- "They love it here, I'd never move, it's a great town".
Schools seemed decent, there's growth but not breakneck paced, and a stable employment base (such as prisons) tends to uplift an area, not squash it. However- there is one major issue that my wife and I had about the place. The Cotter Industries uranium mill that is located several miles uphill from the Lincoln Park area. I see no mention of this in this thread, and I'm actually quite surprised.

As a result of processing techniques used in the 50's thru the 70's, groundwater sources were contaminated by uranium and other heady stuff such as molybdenum that rendered the Lincoln Park area severely impacted. They received the stigma of being in an EPA 'Superfund' clean-up site. Now mind you a lot of work has gone into remediating the problem, but 2 realtors we spoke to said that wells around the affected area are still coming up 'hot' and residents in those areas are offered free city tap hook-ups and required to lock down those wells.

The agricultural 'base' in the area mainly draws irrigation from a series of ditches, and most are clean (as they are surface water sources), but you know what? Who really knows? Maybe the tomatoes are so good because they're radiated, lol!

There were a lot of folks citing anecdotal evidence that it's all 'overblown'. A lot of folks on the Concerned Citizens group vehemently state Cotter will "never operate like that again". In fact, most state they no longer produce yellow cake uranium at that facility. But as an outsider looking in, I would never willfully move my family that close to a uranium mill that has a both a 92 acre and 40+ acre impoundment 'ponds' filled with radioactive garbage ABOVE the town.

And I especially would be nervous to know that uranium prices have SKYROCKETED in the past several years as the demand for clean energy has fueled renewed interest in nuclear power. Cotter still has a license to operate, and I'm sure that if the price is right, they'll do it again, even in Canon City.

It's a really neat little town, and we were very, very conflicted when the offer came down, but in the end I chose another offer in Colorado Springs and will choose to live there.

Sorry for the long post, but I really found it odd that no one once mentioned this 800lb gorilla on the hill.
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Old 08-21-2007, 09:28 PM
 
3 posts, read 11,632 times
Reputation: 10
i agree with everything you said and i, also was wondering why that uranium mill is never discussed on this forum especially from the locals.We loved there too but after reading about the contamination from that mill, we decided to look elsewhere but i miss it .
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Old 08-21-2007, 10:44 PM
 
214 posts, read 1,174,572 times
Reputation: 128
Issues at Cañon City uranium mill (Colorado)

Google Maps
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Old 08-22-2007, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
10,972 posts, read 14,627,751 times
Reputation: 11417
The map showing the 'ponds' is what really got my wife. Around these parts in WV, 90 acres of water is called, umm a lake?

It would really seem to me that there are better more remote places to process uranium. A tourist and recreational destination such as Canon City is not one of those such places.
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Old 08-22-2007, 12:12 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,130,110 times
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The uranium mill is in Canon City because it was close to the uranium supplies. There were also mills in Rifle, Durango, Grand Junction, and Uravan. Urainium has been mined all over Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. There are many naturally "hot" areas for radioactivity all over the region. There were/are mills in Wyoming and New Mexico, too. Uranium is a fact of life in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain states. The uranium for the the A-bombs dropped on Japan were mined near Naturita and milled in Durango. If you don't like those facts, then this region is not for you.
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Old 08-22-2007, 01:30 PM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
10,972 posts, read 14,627,751 times
Reputation: 11417
Naturally hot areas are one thing. Having impoundments uphill from a town and a major source water is another.

I understand that Canon City evolved with two primary industires- prisons and mining. That's not the issue. The issue now is public health and safety as well as perception. A growing town right downhill from a mill where uranium processing and waste reclamation is occuring is a notable point for newcomers.

I brought it up in this thread because no one else from the area bothered to mention it, and it did seem a teensy bit important. Does that carry over to the whole region? No, of course not. My folks live in Estes Park, my brother-in-law in Longmont and we have friends in Colorado Springs, all good places to live that also happen to be devoid of active EPA monitored sites that are contaminated by uranium and heavy metals...

West Virginia has plenty of coal mines and gas wells. That doesn't mean the whole state is an issue, just certain areas. I wouldn't live downhill from a coal slurry impoundment or next door to a coal crusher plant for the same reasons I mentioned above. That doesn't mean every town in WV is bad, or the entire region is bad either.

Last edited by Threerun; 08-22-2007 at 01:38 PM..
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Old 08-23-2007, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Canon City Colorado
16 posts, read 35,673 times
Reputation: 24
I would like to give you some information about the Cotter Corp. Uranium mill. There has been so many stories about the place over the years that they have become local urban legend's. A lot of the things said about Cotters have been way over blown and a lot of it just flat made up by people that don't know what they are talking about.
The mill was built back in 1958 and the worst mistake that they made was they didn't take any water and soil samples to set a base line with. What people don't know is that there was a Zinc plant located in the same area that operated from the 1920's till the 1940's. The Zinc plant was located a mile or two northeast of where the Cotter mill was built.
The Zinc plant used a lot of different nasty chemicals in there processing and they didn't even use a tailing's pond for there waist. They just let it run down the wash and into Grape Creek and on into the Arkansas river. At one time, around 1979-1980 there was a guy bagging the waist from the Zinc plant and selling it as plant food called "Black Gold" because it had a very high nitrogen content. The thing is, a lot of the contamination that Cotters has been blamed for was already there from the Zinc plant before Cotters was even built.
What should give you a good idea of how safe things are around Cotters is to take a look at the wild life in the area. There has always been a large number of deer around the mill and they have always been in perfect health. In the late 60s there were a couple of doe's that had twins every year.
As for the tailing's pond being "impoundment 'ponds' filled with radioactive garbage". There isn't any more radiation in the ponds then there is in the natural background radiation in the rest of the Rocky Mountains. The only thing in the tailing's ponds is water with a slightly high acid content. That's why they are called "tailing's", because everything has been removed from the material that goes in them. They are nothing more than over sized mud puddles with a slightly high pH value.
Cotters built a new mill in 1980-81 and the first thing they did was to re-run all the tailing's that was in the old pond to clean it up. When the new ponds were built the top soil was removed down to solid bedrock. All the cracks in the bedrock were sealed with concrete. Then there was a layer of non-porous clay laid down that is 18 to 24 inches thick. On top of that they laid a thick hypalon acid proof liner and put another 18 inches of fill on top of that. Just below the dams they have drilled several wells and take water samples weekly to check for any contamination.
The reason I know all this is that my father was one of the people that helped to build Cotters and get it running back in 1958. Before that he worked with the AEC, Atomic Energy Commission, in Grand Junction developing the method to extract the uranium in the form of yellow cake. The yellow cake produced by Cotters is in no way usable as weapons grade uranium or could in no way be used to make weapons grade uranium. Most of what Cotters produced used to go to Edison Electric in Chicago and a lot of it has gone into medical equipment. Like the machines used for radiation therapy for cancer. They have also produced a lot of the minerals that go into steel production to make harder grades of steel. They also remove a lot of Silver and Nickel from the uranium ore.
My father worked at Cotters for 35 years before he retired and for the AEC for 5 years before that. He is now 82 years old and has never had any health problems that could be related to or blamed on working at Cotters. There was a Cotter employee that died several years ago from cancer and his family blamed it on his working at Cotters. What they don't tell is that he smoked 3 packs a day too.
As for the so called contamination of Lincoln Park, that has been way over blown too. The so called contamination was hardly more than what you find in a lot of the Rocky Mountains. At the time this was settled the EPA Superfund was going around picking on all sorts of little things trying to prove that they were needed and waisting millions of tax payers money doing it.
As for Cotters being located so close to urban area's. Well, when it was first built in 1958 they were several miles out of town and the mill was built on ground that wasn't worth anything or good for anything else. It has only been in the last 10 to 15 years that the town has expanded in that area. The 5 acre lots going for $50,000 and up now, you could have got back then for around $5 an acre,or less.
As for the safety of Cotters today? They are probably one of the safest industrial plants to live around. There are so many safeguards in place and the methods used to process the uranium ore have been improved to the point that you would really have to work at it to get any contamination on you working there, much less just living in the area. In my opinion it would be a lot safer working at Cotters than to work at one of the Penitentiaries around here!
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Old 08-23-2007, 05:31 PM
 
Location: Colorado
431 posts, read 2,503,041 times
Reputation: 212
Quote:
Originally Posted by ColoradoHermit View Post
I would like to give you some information about the Cotter Corp. Uranium mill. There has been so many stories about the place over the years that they have become local urban legend's. A lot of the things said about Cotters have been way over blown and a lot of it just flat made up by people that don't know what they are talking about.
The mill was built back in 1958 and the worst mistake that they made was they didn't take any water and soil samples to set a base line with. What people don't know is that there was a Zinc plant located in the same area that operated from the 1920's till the 1940's. The Zinc plant was located a mile or two northeast of where the Cotter mill was built.
The Zinc plant used a lot of different nasty chemicals in there processing and they didn't even use a tailing's pond for there waist. They just let it run down the wash and into Grape Creek and on into the Arkansas river. At one time, around 1979-1980 there was a guy bagging the waist from the Zinc plant and selling it as plant food called "Black Gold" because it had a very high nitrogen content. The thing is, a lot of the contamination that Cotters has been blamed for was already there from the Zinc plant before Cotters was even built.
What should give you a good idea of how safe things are around Cotters is to take a look at the wild life in the area. There has always been a large number of deer around the mill and they have always been in perfect health. In the late 60s there were a couple of doe's that had twins every year.
As for the tailing's pond being "impoundment 'ponds' filled with radioactive garbage". There isn't any more radiation in the ponds then there is in the natural background radiation in the rest of the Rocky Mountains. The only thing in the tailing's ponds is water with a slightly high acid content. That's why they are called "tailing's", because everything has been removed from the material that goes in them. They are nothing more than over sized mud puddles with a slightly high pH value.
Cotters built a new mill in 1980-81 and the first thing they did was to re-run all the tailing's that was in the old pond to clean it up. When the new ponds were built the top soil was removed down to solid bedrock. All the cracks in the bedrock were sealed with concrete. Then there was a layer of non-porous clay laid down that is 18 to 24 inches thick. On top of that they laid a thick hypalon acid proof liner and put another 18 inches of fill on top of that. Just below the dams they have drilled several wells and take water samples weekly to check for any contamination.
The reason I know all this is that my father was one of the people that helped to build Cotters and get it running back in 1958. Before that he worked with the AEC, Atomic Energy Commission, in Grand Junction developing the method to extract the uranium in the form of yellow cake. The yellow cake produced by Cotters is in no way usable as weapons grade uranium or could in no way be used to make weapons grade uranium. Most of what Cotters produced used to go to Edison Electric in Chicago and a lot of it has gone into medical equipment. Like the machines used for radiation therapy for cancer. They have also produced a lot of the minerals that go into steel production to make harder grades of steel. They also remove a lot of Silver and Nickel from the uranium ore.
My father worked at Cotters for 35 years before he retired and for the AEC for 5 years before that. He is now 82 years old and has never had any health problems that could be related to or blamed on working at Cotters. There was a Cotter employee that died several years ago from cancer and his family blamed it on his working at Cotters. What they don't tell is that he smoked 3 packs a day too.
As for the so called contamination of Lincoln Park, that has been way over blown too. The so called contamination was hardly more than what you find in a lot of the Rocky Mountains. At the time this was settled the EPA Superfund was going around picking on all sorts of little things trying to prove that they were needed and waisting millions of tax payers money doing it.
As for Cotters being located so close to urban area's. Well, when it was first built in 1958 they were several miles out of town and the mill was built on ground that wasn't worth anything or good for anything else. It has only been in the last 10 to 15 years that the town has expanded in that area. The 5 acre lots going for $50,000 and up now, you could have got back then for around $5 an acre,or less.
As for the safety of Cotters today? They are probably one of the safest industrial plants to live around. There are so many safeguards in place and the methods used to process the uranium ore have been improved to the point that you would really have to work at it to get any contamination on you working there, much less just living in the area. In my opinion it would be a lot safer working at Cotters than to work at one of the Penitentiaries around here!
I would like to add. They always say Lincoln Park. The drainage area that drains from that part of the county does not include all of Lincoln Park. That drainage cuts across Lincoln Park and into the river. The odd thing about this whole noise is. No one can get any neg. testing in the Arkansas River below where this creek inters the river is any different than above. The only thing I am really against is taking soil and trash that other state don't want and bring them here. Colorado has been mining country since the beginning of the white man. Which does bring to the surface and concentrates things. We are learning about this and how to clean them up. We don't need extra from anywhere else. It isn't just Cotter in Canon City, Leadville has had to clean up. Climax Molybdenum Co. is cleaning up. Many states are cleaning up dumps etc too not just Colorado. As to Colorado Spring being a safe place---who knows?. Trains and trucks go thro there all the time with ore etc and NORAD etc. I think if one is looking to be worry wart, one can always find danger. I do not believe there is a time bomb south of town at all. Oh I would like to add a weird thing. A family that received big money from Cotter because of so called pollution of their land. Build a big fancy home and horse facility on the same land. Now if they thought it so dangerous why did they chose to stay? I truly believe that there is something that need watching at Cotter like bringing in stuff from other states that want to get rid of it, why do I want their junk?
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Old 08-24-2007, 09:52 AM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
10,972 posts, read 14,627,751 times
Reputation: 11417
Like I said my wife an I were conflicted about the decision. Canon City is a nice place. However we had two realtors tell us that if we buy a house in the Lincoln Park Zone we have to sign a waiver, and the EPA reports we reviewed continually have Cotter on their radar screen. It does bring up a modicum of concern.

As far as the tailings, if they aren't an issue, why spend so much money on remediation techniques to remove the moly and uranium? I can't believe they would do this without cause. Why as recently as 2005 did an EPA report state they couldn't verify ground water conditions becasue Cotter did not install the monitoring wells in the right locations (one was uphill from the tailings ponds, lotsa good that does)..

In my profession I have to be cognizant of environmental concerns, especially as they pertain to real estate and chain of title concerns. I'm pretty familiar with environmental Phase audit reports. I also know a lot of 'mis-information' starts floating around when the EPA gets involved, even with seemingly benign issues (asbestos is a prime example of things getting overblown). But in the end you've got to go with the most reliable resources and go with what you know.

The CDPHE and EPA reports were enough to sway us against Canon City.

Like I said it's a great town with nice folks, but Cotter certainly deserves a mention when discussing Canon City as destination for relocation.
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Old 08-24-2007, 02:13 PM
 
Location: Canon City Colorado
12 posts, read 44,758 times
Reputation: 16
Since your choice is Colorado Springs, did your realtor also mention the Schlage Lock ground water contamination issue? You might want to know those facts depending on what area you choose to live in Colorado Springs.
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