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                                                                                   URANIUM NEWS—SUMMER 2011 

Region 6 EPA officials accepted an invitation from the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District (GCGCD) to attend a public meeting in Goliad to hear comments on an aquifer exemption request from Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) and TCEQ.  TCEQ commissioners approved UEC’s application to conduct in-situ uranium mining in Goliad County.  The commissioners also approved the aquifer exemption request even though the SOAH judge’s decision—after presiding at the 2010 contested case hearing—was to deny UEC’s application as submitted.

However, before mining can begin, EPA would also need to approve the aquifer exemption request from UEC and TCEQ.  EPA has begun their review of the application, and they have notified TCEQ that more information, based on additional modeling of the aquifer in the permit area, must be provided. 

Coastal Bend Sierra Club (CBSC) officers Pat Suter, Mina Williams, and Venice Scheurich attended the August 4 meeting in Goliad where they submitted documentation to EPA in support of Goliad’s position.

The following links may be useful to readers who are interested in recent scientific studies of in-situ uranium mining recovery (ISR).

 

               REFERENCES FOR RECENT RESEARCH ON IN-SITU URANIUM MINING

Abitz, Richard J., 2008, geochemist currently with the Department of Energy, presented a paper to the Geological Society of America:  The Need for Valid Statistical Protocols to Establish Baseline Groundwater Quality at Uranium ISL Sites.

 http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2008AM/finalprogram/abstract_141311.htm

Hall, Susan, 2009, U.S. Geologic Survey geologist, completed a report, Groundwater Restoration at Uranium In-Situ Recovery Mines, South Texas Coastal Plain (U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1143, 32 p.)  This report, using data from TCEQ’s files, documents the lack of post-mining groundwater restoration to pre-mining baseline quality in Texas.

http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2009/1143/pdf/OF09-1143.pdf 

Otton, J.K., and Hall, Susan, 2009, U.S. Geologic Survey scientists, presented a paper to the International Atomic Energy Agency Symposium, In-Situ Recovery Uranium Mining in the United States: Overview of Production and Remediation Issues which contains, among its conclusions, the following statement:

“To date, no remediation of an ISR operation in the United States has successfully returned the aquifer to baseline conditions.”

http://www-pub.iaea.org/mtcd/meetings/PDFplus/2009/cn175/URAM2009/Session%204/08_56_otton_USA.pdf

Abitz, Richard J., 2010, Department of Energy chemist at Savannah River National Laboratory, presented a paper to the Geological Society of America: Anthropogenic Induced Redox Disequilibrium in Uranium Ore Zones in which he uses Goliad County groundwater data from eighteen well sites to illustrate that conventional drilling and development methods may not produce accurate baseline values for uranium, and that it is unlikely that a true baseline value can be developed for radium 226.

http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2010AM/finalprogram/abstract_174957.htm

Sass, Ronald L., 2011, Chemist at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, published a study, Uranium Mining in Texas: Why Is It Done That Way? This study, based on geochemical principles, which analyzes Goliad County data, contains the summary statement:

"Since the recommended procedure for obtaining measured baseline concentrations is flawed, causing the resulting baseline concentrations for uranium and radium to be elevated above the undisturbed concentrations, I call into question the granting of any aquifer exemptions from the Clean Water Act. Furthermore, since post-restoration concentrations for radium and uranium are also generally high, the whole mining process should be closely examined and modified, or disallowed."

http://www.bakerinstitute.org/publications/GCC-pub-SassUraniumMining-032811.pdf   .

 

Submitted by Venice Scheurich and Mina Williams, Sept. 21, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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