EPA Hearings On Uranium Mining Take Place In Black Hills

May 8, 2017

About 90 people gathered at the Ramkota in Rapid City to give testimony and hear EPA presentations on uranium mining in the southern Black Hills.
Credit Lee Strubinger / SDPB

EPA officials are taking public comment on two permit applications by Powertech USA, which hopes to mine uranium from the southern Black Hills.
 
The hearings are re-igniting an over decade long dispute over nuclear resource extraction in groundwater.
 
Powertech USA hopes the EPA will greenlight its permits to extract uranium from portions of the Inyan Kara aquifers located near Edgemont.
 
The process is called uranium in-situ recovery. The project proposal seeks to inject lixiviant, or ground water with elevated levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, into the aquifer to mobilize uranium from ore deposits.
 
Mark Hollenbeck is manager for the Dewey Burdock project site… where the EPA is taking comment. He says he’s certain the EPA will give Powertech the go-ahead…
 
“We are very confident in our science," Hollebeck says. "We have succeeded in all levels of permitting up to this date. Our science has not fell through. It has been challenged but we have won every time. So we expect to win this time as well.”
 
According to the EPA, Powertech plans to use groundwater from the Madison aquifer to replace the groundwater removed from the Inyan Kara aquifers.
 
Lilias Jarding is with the Clean Water Allaiance, a group that opposes the project. She says they’re confident project will get shut down.
 
“We’re absolutely hopeful, we believe this will be stopped," Jarding says. "Because we’ve stopped this before in the Black Hills and because the company is not doing a very good job of pitching it’s project. It’s had some problems.”

EPA officials say they’re seeking public comment to identify any traditional cultural properties in the project area.
 
The Dewey Burdock site is located in southwestern Custer County and northwestern Fall River County on the Wyoming/South Dakota border.
 
The EPA is taking public comment through May 19 on the permits.