Countdown to Pierre – Uranium mining

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It really isn’t a difficult question: do you think water should be protected from overuse and contamination? The answer for everyone should be, “absolutely.”

Over the course of the past year, South Dakota has seen a great deal of activity around the Powertech in situ uranium mining project. We’ve followed the process quite thoroughly on this blog; rather than repeat what we have put up here already, we’d like to focus on what is ahead.

Our priorities this year will be reinstating state control over uranium mining and protecting our water and our land from contamination. There are some significant tweaks between what we’ll be bringing this year and what we brought last year. And, this time around, we have a lot more information about what in situ uranium mining is really all about.

Kara Hagen, owner of the FlatIron Historic Sandstone Inn in Hot Springs and DRA member, urges people to take a stand. “If we don’t take a stand now, then when?” asks Hagen, “When it’s too late? Are you willing to take any chances or risk the future of the Black Hills and the purity and supply of our water?”

For example: there has been some public dispute about how much water Powertech proposes to use – and by association, the amount of water any other company would have to use were they to take up such a proposal. The absolute fact of the matter is Powertech is requesting the right to 13,710 acre-feet of water per year from the Inyan Kara Aquifer. It is on page one of their water rights application report. Powertech likes to say they’re only going to use 272 acre-feet per year, but when it comes to water rights, that 13,710 acre feet they own can’t be used by anyone else. It’s off the books. That matters.

“We have enough uranium resources to meet the United States’ needs into the 2020’s,” says Clay Uptain, President of the Black Hills Chapter of Dakota Rural Action. “We don’t need more uranium here, so it’s logical that uranium mined here would end up somewhere else. We would be left with contaminated water, while a Chinese company could gain the profits from the mining. I don’t want to see this happen.”

What has also become clear is South Dakota made a mistake back in 2010 when they passed SB 158, tolling our rules until South Dakota becomes an agreement state. Huge mistake – and it shows. Both the Board of Minerals and Environment and the Water Management Board were confused about what their role in this process really is, and there are conflicting understandings about what the state can and cannot regulate at this point in time. It is crazy to think South Dakota wouldn’t have control over its own territory, and considering in Wyoming it would take $4.5 million and 6 years to get primacy, we can’t wait for the state to put those rules back into effect.

Protecting our water, land, agriculture, tourism, and people is actually

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Comments

  1. I didn’t pay taxes on my property in Hot Springs for the past 15 years only to have the ground water polluted and radioactive substances spread over the landscape. I’ve been had and I’m mad!

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