NRC permits uranium mine in Hills

RAPID CITY — The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission made a controversial move Tuesday by granting Powertech Uranium Corp. a license for its proposed in situ recovery uranium mine in the Southern Black Hills four months in advance of a public hearing the regulatory group scheduled to hear arguments against the mine.

Powertech Uranium Corp. — soon to be Azarga Uranium Corp. if the Toronto Stock Exchange and Powertech stockholders approve Hong Kong-based Azarga Resources’ reverse takeover of the Canadian company — applied for an NRC license for its Dewey-Burdock in situ recovery (ISR) uranium mine just outside of Edgemont in 2010.

The uranium mining project still needs approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment, and the South Dakota Water Management Board before Powertech/Azarga can begin operation.

Powertech’s President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Clement was pleased with the NRC’s decision to license the Dewey-Burdock project.

“The issuance of the NRC’s final license is the culmination of eight years of planning and evaluation and confirms again that our plan for in situ recovery mining at Dewey-Burdock is safe and will have minimal environmental impact,” he said in a prepared statement on Tuesday.

Opponents of the project, however, maintain it has much more potential to contaminate groundwater, surface water, and soil than Powertech and the NRC allege. They’re also incensed that the NRC issued Powertech a license for the project well before the August public hearings the federal regulatory commission scheduled to hear public concerns on the project, effectively illustrating the NRC’s concerns with public opinion.

 “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has put the cart before the horse by giving a company a license before it even holds the hearings on that license,” Clean Water Alliance representative Dr. Lilias Jarding said Tuesday in a prepared statement. “The hearings and permitting process must be honored.”

Representatives from the Clean Water Alliance said the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, the independent trial-level adjudicatory body of the NRC, accepted several contentions against the NRC’s handling of Powertech’s license application, including failure to adequately consult with interested American Indian tribes on cultural and historical heritage sites in the proposed mining area, failure to include adequate information on baseline water quality, and failure to adequately describe and analyze ground water quantity impacts. These concerns will be addressed at August’s public hearing.

The ISR process utilizes dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of small water pumps to inject oxygenated water into underground aquifers to leach uranium deposits out of the rock walls. The water is then pumped back to the surface, the uranium is extracted, processed into yellowcake format, and sold.

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(3) comments

nouraniummininginblackhills

So let me get this story straight: "the Licensing Board, the independent trial-level adjudicatory body of the NRC, accepted several contentions against the NRC’s handling of Powertech’s license application, including failure to adequately consult with interested American Indian tribes on cultural and historical heritage sites in the proposed mining area..... These concerns will be addressed at August’s public hearing."

If Powertech is allowed to start construction BEFORE the August hearing, what cultural and historical heritage sites will remain? All the Native Grandmother's will be plowed under, never to be found again....imagine the grief of the Native Americans...this is a travesty about to occur on Treaty Lands.

4legsRbetter

If you listen to the sales pitch by the industry they don't talk about the "waste" much. They stick to their script. The reality is—Uranium Mining Contaminates! They need good water (from the Madison Aquifer) to wash the pregnant solution of heavy metals, arsenic, vanadium, molybdenum, selenium, etc. They have to have the uranium Yellowcake as clean as possible to get the BIG price of $32 a lb. Seriously, maybe they should change course and try getting the ok to grow Medicinal Marijuana instead—that would bring far more money, an "ounce" of marijuana can go for $125. Wouldn't pollute the water and maybe keep the people of Edgemont employed. Since cancer rates are higher in the Fall River Counties, probably because of past uranium mining, it could be another benefit to the community. The whole idea of injecting this waste water into the Minnelusa Aquifer or dumping it out over the land is just so incredibly irresponsible. The industry tells people it's benign and safe. It's sad that some people believe everything they hear, without finding out the facts. The fact is Uranium Mining Pollutes! Period.

theironplace

I believe this is the precursor to a bunch of politicians losing elections. In a state with such an ag focus, what kind of silly goose votes against clean water? Too funny. "Vote all them bums out." But then, is this Uranium thing just a smoke screen to allow Oil and Gas fracking to slip in the back door? According to one rancher in Southwest SD, the whole Uranium thing is a stock scam. 

(Edited by staff.)

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