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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Possible (Probable?) ramifications of in situ leach mining for uranium in the Southern Hills

Earlier on this blog we've delved lightly into the prospect of Powertech USA injecting chemicals into the ground water and uranium ore formations in the Southern Hills. The Oglala Sioux tribe are suing to stop the mining projects. Another group of organizations has filed a petition to join the suit.

The petition is 57 pages long, but it is not hard to read. Most of us will skip the technical language that discusses the physics and chemistry of the process, but the outlining of the process and the contentions alleged by the petitioners are easy to understand.

Read the petition to join the lawsuit here. You might want to go directly to the "Contentions" on page 34 before reading the background stuff at the beginning.

It is common for mining fluid to leak into an aquifer under the best conditions during ISL mining. Given the situation at the proposed Dewey-Burdock site, an eminent hydrogeologist/geochemist hired to review Powertech’s paperwork says, “Discussion of site fluid containment seems ludicrous.”

Note that, ironically, Powertech admits the mines will degrade the groundwater (the underqround aquifers on which we depend for drinking and irrigation water). They just say, "...but it won't be that bad." Man! Jes' a li'l uranium in your kool-aid.


Thad Wasson said...

Safe and clean drinking water for ourselves, our crops and the wildlife is a national security issue. This takes precendence over uranium mining. We have other ways to develop energy than risk groundwater damage.

Depleted uranium in shells used by our military in the first gulf war, Kosovo and our current war on terror will stick around for about 2 billion years and be a radioactive waste site for the same amount of time.

Is it worth the risk?

larry kurtz said...

Thanks for following this story, Bob.

Anonymous said...

The area proposed for the insitu U mining is naturally contaminated, including the water & soil. I've been there & studied the deposit - I've also visited similar mines in Wyoming and I believe it is definitely one of the 'safest' methods of mining. I put quotes around safest because mining is never 100% safe, but if there is a demand for a commodity like U we have to trust the scientists, engineers, and miners to extract it the best way they know how. It is definitely a good idea though for the public to be involved & understand the process and the possible problems.