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Notes from a Western Life
Ranging Far and Wide on the High Plains and Beyond
Linda M. Hasselstrom's Blog

Why Allow Uranium Mining?

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Why should the residents of South Dakota and eastern Wyoming allow uranium mining? Why should we allow a group of small Canadian companies to mine uranium in our neighborhood, potentially damaging our water, our economy and our health far into the future?

Uranium is used for nuclear power and to make nuclear weapons. The largest current markets for uranium for nuclear power are China and India. The companies that want to mine uranium in the Black Hills region are mostly small, Canadian companies.

According to information presented by the Clean Water Alliance, at least four companies are now active in the Black Hills, intending to do in situ leach uranium mining, in which leaching solutions are pumped underground into uranium deposits. The solution dissolves the uranium which is then pumped back to the surface for further processing. In situ leach mining can only be done directly in groundwater.

At least 169 abandoned uranium mines exist from previous mining in the Black Hills; most have never been cleaned up.

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For more information: (or to donate)

the Clean Water Alliance website

write to PO Box 591, Rapid City, SD 57709

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Uranium Mining Delayed for Further Study

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The Custer County Chronicle reports on August 11 that the plans of Powertech Uranium to mine near Dewey, South Dakota, have been put on hold. A Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) panel has accepted several contentions put forth by petition groups. The panel decided that these contentions warrant further review, so the “arguments will now be analyzed at a technical level,” says the Chronicle.

Petitioners and Powertech will both use expert witnesses to argue their cases, primarily in writing, according to the NRC. No timeline on when the evidentiary hearing will occur has been announced. Powertech may also file for dismissal of the motions. If the contentions stand, they will be reviewed by committees appointed by the president, and any decision could be appealed to federal courts.

Consolidated Petitioners, including author Dayton Hyde who operates the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary near Hot Springs, put forth 11 contentions, three of which were accepted by the panel.

These include arguments --
-- that Powertech’s analyses of baseline water quality and aquifer confinements are inadequate,
-- that the lack of confinement of the host Inyan Kara aqueduct could lead to hazardous effects to the broader public if heavy metals like uranium or radon leach into the groundwater, and
-- that the application does not adequately cover the protection of historical and cultural resources of the region.

The Oglala Lakota Tribe put forth 10 contentions, four of which were accepted.

These include the arguments --
-- that Powertech’s application fails to address adequately the protection of historical and cultural resources,
-- that it fails to adequately determine baseline groundwater quality,
-- that it fails to demonstrate Powertech’s abilities to contain fluid migration, and
-- that there is an inadequate analysis of groundwater quantity impacts.

Powertech’s application for a license to perform in situ leach uranium mining in Fall River and Custer Counties is now available for public review at the Hot Springs Library, Custer County Library, Oglala Sioux Tribe NRC Agency, and the Math, Science and Technology Laboratory of Oglala Lakota College.

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For more information:

For more on Powertech’s poor record of protecting the environment, see Powertechexposed.com

the Clean Water Alliance website

Dayton Hyde’s Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary


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