Monthly Archives: July 2009

GOV. RITTER SENDS LETTER OPPOSING MERCURY STORAGE TO U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY CHU

As a follow-up to last week’s announcement that Gov. Ritter is opposed to the federal government possibly storing mercury waste near Grand Junction, Gov. Ritter today sent the below letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu:

 

July 30, 2009

 

The Honorable Steven Chu

Secretary

U.S. Department of Energy


1000 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C.  20585

 

Dear Secretary Chu:

 

Several days ago, I announced that I will oppose the designation of the Grand Junction Disposal Site, at which uranium mill tailings and related materials are disposed, as a long-term storage and disposal site for elemental mercury.  I am writing today to reiterate my opposition and to explain the reasons for my decision.

 

I believe it is important at the outset to recognize that for planning purposes, we must assume at this juncture that any site designated for the long-term storage of a highly toxic material will actually become the disposal site for this material.  There is no reason to believe, or assume, that in some future year a federal agency will elect to once again transport large quantities of this material for storage or disposal at another site.  Neither is there any basis to assume some future economic use of this highly toxic material.  Instead, our planning assumption must be based on the realistic expectation that the designated site or sites will effectively become the disposal site for this material. 

 

Viewed in that light, I believe that consideration of the Grand Junction Disposal Site is deeply flawed, for several reasons.

 

First, in the arid Southwest water is our life’s blood.  The Colorado River and its tributaries directly serve not merely millions of people in our state – for irrigation as well as domestic uses – but many millions more in both upper and lower basin states.  Our state simply could not countenance the disposal – and as I said, we must proceed upon the assumption that this site will become thede facto disposal site – of a large quantity of elemental mercury at a site not significantly removed from a major tributary to the Colorado River.  Any loss of mercury by any pathway to ground water or to surface water (for example, as the result of a major precipitation event) could be catastrophic.   

 

Second, I note that much of the existing elemental mercury inventory is controlled either by the Department of Energy or the Department of Defense.  And a very large part of that inventory is located at Oak Ridge.  Conversely, it appears to me that most, if not all of the sites being considered for the disposal of elemental mercury are located at some substantial distance from the sites at which this material was generated and where it currently is being stored.   I am deeply concerned about the risks inherent in transporting large quantities of elemental mercury over long distances for storage and disposal.  Elemental mercury spills pose very serious health hazards because mercury evaporates, releasing highly toxic odorless and colorless vapors, and, significantly, elemental mercury is very difficult to clean up because most common methods actually disperse mercury, increasing evaporation and spreading the toxic contamination.  The very real danger of human exposure from inhaling mercury vapors from a spill or release of the elemental mercury during a transportation incident demand that sites closer to where the mercury is currently stored be given preferable consideration.

 

At bare minimum, I believe that the Department of Energy’s environmental analysis must include a detailed and complete assessment of the entire transportation infrastructure that would be needed for this program: what transportation mode, what routes, what security precautions, what form of container or cask, what testing for that container or cask, how the mercury would be transferred into the facility, what level and type of monitoring will be performed, what are the incident response capabilities, and so on.  But more fundamentally, I simply do not subscribe to the notion that rural western Colorado should become the storage and disposal site for a large quantity of elemental mercury that could and should be stored in close proximity to the generating sources.  In that regard, I also want to note that it is simply impossible to transport large quantities of elemental mercury from the eastern part of the country to western Colorado without crossing the Continental Divide and traversing major waterways innumerable times.  The inherent risks in transporting elemental mercury over this great distance are simply too insurmountable to warrant any further consideration of western Colorado as the final repository.

 

Third, I also want to note that when the Department of Energy was searching for sites at which it could dispose of large quantities of uranium mill tailings and related materials, the Department assured the local community that the Cheney reservoir site would not become a hazardous waste disposal site.  While that was many years ago now, and the Department has done commendable work at the Grand Junction and other legacy sites, the Department has made no case for why its earlier commitment should not stand.  But beyond that fact, I am convinced that the State as well as the Department would have taken a much harder look at the Cheney Reservoir site had we known at the time that it might in future be considered as a storage and disposal site for elemental mercury.  Simply put, we cannot go back in time.

 

Colorado has worked well with the Department of Energy on a variety of projects, and we look forward to continuing to build our partnership with you and the Department.  However, on this project I strongly urge the Department of Energy to return to the drawing board to develop a new set of potential storage and disposal sites that are located in close proximity to the major inventories of elemental mercury, and to concurrently develop a comprehensive plan for the safe transportation of elemental mercury.     

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Bill Ritter, Jr.

Governor

 

GOV. RITTER ORDERS FLAGS LOWERED FRIDAY TO HONOR MONTROSE POLICE SGT.

 

Gov. Bill Ritter has directed that all U.S. and Colorado flags flown at public facilities across the state be lowered to half-staff on Friday, July 31, 2009, to honor Montrose police Sgt. David Kinterknecht.

 

Sgt. Kinterknecht, 41, was killed in the line of duty on July 25. A graduate of Montrose High School, he served in law enforcement for 19 years.

 

A funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the Lloyd McMillan Gym adjacent to Montrose High School. Burial will follow at Cedar Cemetery. Gov. Ritter is scheduled to attend the service.

GOV. RITTER’S SCHEDULE FOR TODAY AND FRIDAY (JULY 30 & 31, 2009)


 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

 

10:30 a.m.       Gov. Ritter will deliver remarks to hundreds of educators at the Colorado Education Association’s Annual Leadership Conference. Location: Keystone ConferenceCenter, 

0633 Tennis Townhouse Road

, Keystone.

 

11:45 a.m.       Gov. Ritter will deliver remarks to hundreds of healthcare leaders at the 2009 Colorado Health Foundation Symposium. He will address health reform accomplishments inColorado and federal reform efforts. Gov. Ritter will also release a report on health reform in Colorado. Location: Keystone Resort and Conference Center, 

0633 Tennis Townhouse Road

, Keystone.

 

2 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will host a Town Hall meeting in Eagle. The public is invited to attend. Location: Eagle County Courthouse, 500 Broadway, Eagle County Room.

 

6:30 p.m.        Gov. Ritter will deliver remarks at the 2009 State Games of America Opening Ceremony. The State Games of America is the premier national multi-sport even for athletes of all ages and abilities. Over 10,000 medal winners from 49 State Games nationwide will compete. Location: Colorado Springs World Arena, 

3185 Venetucci Blvd.

           

            Friday, July 31, 2009

 

10 a.m.            Gov. Ritter will attend the funeral service for Montrose police Sgt. David Kinterknecht. Location: Montrose High School, 

600 S. Selig Ave.

, Montrose.    

           

 

COLORADO RANKS 2nd IN NATION FOR RECOVERY ACT TRANSPARENCY

 
A new study released today ranks Colorado 2nd in the nation for Recovery Act spending transparency thanks to the state website www.colorado.gov/recovery. The ranking was released in a national study, “Show Us the Stimulus,” by Good Jobs First, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit research center.

“I am committed to making Recovery Act spending in Colorado as transparent, open and accountable as possible to the people of Colorado,” Gov. Ritter said. “That’s why I established a Recovery Act oversight panel and the Recovery Act website. The site is informative and helpful so taxpayers can clearly see how the Recovery Act is strengthening the economy, benefiting communities and helping families.”

 

The report scored state Recovery Act websites according to their ability to show various types of spending information – including contracts awarded, distribution of spending by county or town, and general explanations of funding categories. On a scale of 0 to 100, Colorado scored 68. The average score was 28. Colorado was one of just five states that scored over 50.Maryland topped the list. The report authors are part of a national coalition called States for a Transparent and Accountable Recovery (STAR coalition).

 

The website is maintained by the Governor’s Economic Recovery Team and includes a map that shows Recovery Act projects and lists of contractors and reports. The website is updated daily.

 

To view the study, go to www.goodjobsfirst.org/stimulusweb.cfm.

 

For more information about the Recovery Act in Colorado, visit www.colorado.gov/recovery.

 

 

 

 

GOV. RITTER CONGRATULATES BALL AEROSPACE & NASA ASTRONAUTS FOR SUCCESSFUL MISSION TO REPAIR HUBBLE

BOULDER — Gov. Bill Ritter today congratulated the astronauts and crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and employees from Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. for their recent mission to repair and extend the life of the Hubble telescope.

 

During a visit with the astronauts and employees at Ball’s Boulder campus, Gov. Ritter also presented a proclamation declaring today “Space Shuttle Mission STS-125 Day.”

 

“Congratulations to NASA and the astronauts for their successful mission to extend the life of Hubble, which serves as a window out to the universe,” Gov. Ritter said. “Colorado is very proud of its contribution to those awe-inspiring images. Ball engineers, technicians and support staff have dedicated more than three decades of work to make the Hubble a reality. The company is one of the reasons why Colorado has such a strong and successful aerospace industry.”

 

In May, the Atlantis crew conducted a five-day mission involving five spacewalks to repair the 20-year-old Hubble, giving it enhanced capability until 2014, when it will be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope.

 

More than 40 students from the Webber Aerospace Ventures in Education (WAVE) aerospace camp in Ft. Collins were at the event today. Youngsters prepare an aerospace “mission” during the camp, and today the students met with the astronauts and presented their mission to them.

 

“It’s wonderful to see so many young people here today with an interest in aerospace,” Gov. Ritter said. “Ball and NASA are inspiring a new generation of scientists who will invent their own future and lead us to new heights and new discoveries.”

 

The text of the proclamation follows:

 

WHEREAS, on May 11, 2009, seven STS-125 crewmembers embarked on one of NASA’s most daring shuttle missions—to repair and improve the Hubble Telescope; and

 

WHEREAS, Colorado is proud to have numerous connections to this mission, including building all of Hubble’s science instruments since the completion of SM-4; and

 

WHEREAS, in total, Ball Aerospace, headquartered in Boulder, has developed seven scientific instruments for Hubble and also designed and built mission-critical tools that enabled the astronauts to conduct their repairs; and

 

WHEREAS, millions of people have been inspired by the Hubble Telescope’s breathtaking imagery and scientific discoveries; and

 

WHEREAS, because of the improvements made on this mission the Hubble Telescope will continue to inspire people around the world until 2014 and beyond;

 

Therefore, I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, do hereby proclaim July 29, 2009, SPACE SHUTTLE MISSION STS-125 DAY in the State of Colorado.

GOV. RITTER’S SCHEDULE FOR TODAY AND THURSDAY (JULY 29 & 30, 2009)

 
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

 

9 a.m.              Gov. Ritter will congratulate the astronauts and crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and employees from Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. for the May mission to repair and extend the life of the Hubble telescope. Location: Ball Aerospace, Building RA-4, Boulder Campus. Click here for a map of the campus.

 

11:30 a.m.       Gov. Ritter will deliver a keynote luncheon speech to the Downtown Denver Partnership governing boards, addressing the state’s economic and budget challenges and his vision and strategy for leading Colorado forward. Location: Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Colorado Convention Center, Centennial Ballroom F & G, 

650 15th St., Denver

.

 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

 

10:30 a.m.      Gov. Ritter will deliver remarks to hundreds of educators at the Colorado Education Association’s Annual Leadership Conference. Location: Keystone Conference Center, 

0633 Tennis Townhouse Road

, Keystone.

 

11:45 a.m.       Gov. Ritter will deliver remarks to hundreds of healthcare leaders at the 2009 Colorado Health Foundation Symposium. He will address health reform accomplishments in Colorado and federal reform efforts. Gov. Ritter will also release a report on health reform in Colorado. Location: Keystone Resort and Conference Center, 

0633 Tennis Townhouse Road

, Keystone.

 

2 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will host a Town Hall meeting in Eagle. The public is invited to attend. Location: Eagle County Courthouse, 500 Broadway, Eagle County Room.

 

6:30 p.m.        Gov. Ritter will deliver remarks at the 2009 State Games of America Opening Ceremony. The State Games of America is the premier national multi-sport even for athletes of all ages and abilities. Over 10,000 medal winners from 49 State Games nationwide will compete. Location: Colorado Springs World Arena, 

3185 Venetucci Blvd.

GOV. RITTER’S SCHEDULE FOR WEDNESDAY (JULY 29, 2009)


 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

 

9 a.m.              Gov. Ritter will congratulate the astronauts and crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and employees from Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. for the May mission to repair and extend the life of the Hubble telescope. Location: Ball Aerospace, Building RA-4, Boulder Campus. Click here for a map of the campus.

 

11:30 a.m.       Gov. Ritter will deliver a keynote luncheon speech to the Downtown Denver Partnership governing boards, addressing the state’s economic and budget challenges and his vision and strategy for leading Colorado forward. Location: Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Colorado Convention Center, Centennial Ballroom F & G, 

650 15th St., Denver

.

 

GOV. RITTER’S SCHEDULE FOR TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY (JULY 28 & 29, 2009)


 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

 

5:30 p.m.        Gov. Ritter, Budget Director Todd Saliman, members of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee and legislative leadership will meet with the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses to discuss the process now underway to balance the FY09-10 budget and close a roughly $400 million shortfall. Location: Carriage House at the Governor’s Residence. Media should enter through the 

Logan Street

 gate just south of 

8th Avenue

.

 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

 

9 a.m.              Gov. Ritter will congratulate the astronauts and crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and employees from Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. for the May mission to repair and extend the life of the Hubble telescope. Location: Ball Aerospace, Building RA-4, Boulder Campus. Click here for a map of the campus.

 

11:30 a.m.       Gov. Ritter will deliver a keynote luncheon speech to the Downtown Denver Partnership governing boards, addressing the state’s economic and budget challenges and his vision and strategy for leading Colorado forward. Location: Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Colorado Convention Center, Centennial Ballroom F & G, 

650 15th St.,Denver

.

 

 

GOV. RITTER OPPOSES PROPOSAL TO SHIP MERCURY TO GRAND JUNCTION


 

Gov. Bill Ritter said today he will oppose the federal government if it moves ahead with a proposal to ship thousands of tons of mercury to a waste storage site south of Grand Junction.

 

The governor he will convey his reservations about the proposal to the Department of Energy in a letter in the coming days.

 

Colorado‘s Western Slope is no place for the federal government to deposit thousands of tons of mercury,” Gov. Ritter said. “The risks to ground and surface water are too great. The risks to our air quality are too great. The risks of transporting elemental mercury over long distances and on routes that run adjacent to or cross major water sources, such as the Colorado River, are too great.

 

“This dangerous and harmful material should be stored in close proximity to where it is generated, rather than dumping it on the Western Slope,” Gov. Ritter said.

 

The Grand Junction Disposal Site in Mesa County, which currently stores uranium mill tailings, is one of seven locations under consideration for mercury storage by the U.S. Department of Energy. Others are in Idaho, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.

 

The DOE intends to have a mercury storage site selected and operational by 2013.