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Uranium – the Front End of Nuclear Power: Abundant in Wyoming

A map showing Titan Uranium's operations in Wyoming. Sheep Mountain Mine, the red dot west of Casper, is expected to be a working mine by 2014

Headquartered in Missoula, Montana New West has as its mission  ” a participatory journalism and to promote conversation that helps us understand and make the most of the dramatic changes sweeping our region.”  A few exceprts from an article written by Julianne Couch that appeared on on March 18th.

Nuclear power isn’t a prevalent form of energy in our water-parched West. But these plants are common in the Midwest and East, with 104 reactors currently in operation around the contiguous U.S.

With safety technology much improved since the days of Three Mile Island, not to mention Chernobyl, Americans were starting to get more comfortable with nuclear energy giving us electrical power. The nuclear power industry has launched an effective P.R. campaign by billing itself as a “green” source of energy. And it is true that creating nuclear power through fission doesn’t actually burn anything, so releases no greenhouse gasses. But as we’re witnessing now, when things go wrong, it can be very bad.

At last count the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects to review 21 combined commercial and operating license applications for approximately 30 reactors in new power plants over the next few years. Whether the Japan disaster affects those plans remains to be seen. While none of these plants will be in Wyoming, some of the fuel to operate them will originate here – the front end of the process.

The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that during part or all of 2009, there were 18 U.S. mines that produced uranium to be processed into uranium concentrate. The EIA says that Wyoming and New Mexico, combined, have anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of the nation’s estimated uranium reserves. The anticipated licensure of new plants will provide a market for that product. That means that in Wyoming and other places in the West, developers are ready to restart the old mines and develop new ones.

Complete story:

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