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URANIUM ACTIVITY IN KLEBERG AND GOLIAD COUNTIES, FEBRUARY 2013
The following reports, published in the February 6, 2013, edition of the Kingsville Record, the January 30, 2013, edition of the Goliad Advance-Guard, and the December 5, 2012, edition of the Victoria Advocate provide updates on the current status of efforts by Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) and Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI) to obtain permits to mine uranium in two South Texas counties.
URI NOT ALLOWED TO MINE IN KLEBERG COUNTY
By Tim Acosta
Kingsville Record by email@example.com 2/6/13
Uranium Resources Inc. will not be able to mine in Kingsville for the foreseeable future after state officials recently acknowledged a renewal of the companys permit last year was invalid.
Brad Rockwell, an attorney for Kleberg County, on Tuesday said the issue arose last year after URI filed a Sept. 24 renewal of its permit to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in order to mine at the Kingsville Dome. The county challenged the renewal of the permit in a Dec. 17 lawsuit filed in Travis County against the TCEQ and URI, claiming the renewal was invalid because URI had missed the Sept. 1 deadline set by the TCEQ.
The state agency has since acknowledged the renewal was granted in error, Rockwell said.
"That right to mine has expired because URI missed the renewal deadline and URI has no more right to mine in Kleberg County under any permit, unless and until URI goes through the lengthy major amendment process of getting TCEQ to grant that right to them again," Rockwell said.
In December, 105th District Judge Angelica Hernandez found that URI "involuntarily and without deliberate intent" breached a prior settlement agreement with Kleberg County by not restoring a water well, I-11A, to pre-1985 levels. The court ordered the wells restoration, which is underway, but denied a motion by the county to prohibit mining of a nearby well, PA-3, in order to give URI a chance to generate revenue to restore the groundwater in I-11A.
TCEQ officials on Tuesday said restoration operations would be allowed to continue, but mining is out of the question. However, Dain McCoig, who oversees URIs operations at the Kingsville Dome, said the company has not mined in the area since 2008.
"We have no immediate plans to do so because of the price of uranium," he said.
A Dec. 17 letter to the TCEQ from Mark Pelizza, senior vice president for URI, said the company would be filing a major amendment to the renewal request submitted in September in order to have its mining permit reinstated.
"To confirm the facts for your records, URI has not at any time wished or sought to abandon any of its permits or any of its obligations under any TCEQ permit or rule," Pelizza wrote.
The amendment request is still pending with the TCEQ.
This article has been reprinted with the permission of the editor of the Kingsville Record.
HOUSTON ATTORNEY FILES PETITION FOR APPEAL AGAINST EPA DECISION
By Coy Slavik
Goliad Advance-Guard 1/30/13
Houston attorney Jim Blackburn has filed a petition for appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on behalf of Goliad County residents who want to protest the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's grant of an aquifer exemption to Uranium Energy Corp.
Last month, the EPA granted UEC the exemption to allow the uranium-mining company to begin mining operations in Goliad County.
Petitioners in the appeal, which was filed Jan. 18, are Raymond Arnold, Aldon Bade, Brenda Bade, Reta and Gene Brown, John and Pearl Caldwell, Gentry T. Calhoun, P. T. Calhoun, Shannon Calhoun, Ellie Carter, Lynn and Ginger Cook, Werger Dohmann, Craig and Luann Duderstadt, Goliad County Farm Bureau, Jessica Hammons, Raulie and Georgia Irwin, Ashley Jackson, Megan Long, Pam Long, Ted Long, Linda L. Nelson, Wexford Ranch, Calhoun Ranches, Barbara Smith, Jared Smith, Robert Smith, and Don Sugarek.
The petition reads, "Groundwater is the sole source of domestic water supply for Goliad County, and, therefore, the backbone of the citizens' livelihood. Petitioners do not believe the groundwater quality ofthe Goliad Aquifer will be restored by UEC, because no mining operator in Texas has ever restored water quality to its original state."
Blackburn has also filed an appeal in the Travis County against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's granting of a similar aquifer exemption to UEC.
According to the petition, "EPA's approval of the aquifer exemption is arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with the law for several reasons, including, but not limited to the following: 1. The grant of the aquifer exemption contravenes the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, including regulations promulgated pursuant to the Act; and 2. Respondent EPA approved the request by TCEQ without either party making certain changes to the exemption area available to the public; and 3. Respondent EPA denied Petitioners the opportunity for a hearing in violation of 40 C.F.R. § 145.32(b).
"Petitioners respectfully request that the Court: 1) determine that the EPA's Final Action to approve the Texas aquifer exemption is not in accordance with the law, is arbitrary and capricious, and thus be vacated and set aside; 2) in the alternative, remand the action to EPA to conduct a hearing and allow public participation in accordance with 40 C.F.R. § 145.32(b); and 3) grant such additional relief as may be just and appropriate.
UEC Chief Operating Officer Harry Anthony issued a statement to the Advance-Guard concerning the appeal.
"The latest legal effort by a handful of our opponents doesnt change the fact that UEC's operations are moving forward," Anthony said. "The Goliad County project is fully licensed and permitted for production and has been technically and exhaustively reviewed and approved by state and federal authorities.
"There has never been a documented case of groundwater contamination cause by in-situ uranium mining in Texas. For over five years, landowners in Goliad have been denied their private property rights and the ability to use their land as they see fit. We are encouraged by the fact that the Goliad County Commissioners Court and the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District are not participating in the most recent legal effort because the taxpayers in Goliad County have spent over $700,000 in this effort. We look forward to creating jobs in the region, paying local taxes and becoming an integral part of the Goliad business community."
This article has been reprinted with the permission of the editor of the Goliad Advance-Guard.
Those interested in reading background information which led to the filing of the law suits in the Goliad County matter will find insights by reading Dianna Wrays report of December 5, 2012, in the Victoria Advocate at the following link:
Submitted by Venice Scheurich, February 12, 2013
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