Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe battles uranium mining

More than 200 sacred and archeological sites are known to share the Dewey Burdock project site north of Edgemont with 169 abandoned uranium mines and at least 7,500 exploration drill holes that remain on the property from previous operations dating back to the 1950s and 1970s. Photo by Talli Nauman

Tribe takes NRC to mat on uranium permits
Tribe urges turnout of members for public information sessions
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor

DENVER, CO. –– The Environmental Protection Agency is coordinating with tribal government in an attempt to issue underground water permits for the uranium mining and milling project the Oglala Sioux Tribe opposes at the Dewey Burdock site 50 miles west of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota, the agency said March 6.

The announcement launched a public comment period on the EPA’s new draft permits for underground injection control of mine wastewater at the site and for the mining company’s request that the agency withdraw parts of the local water table from availability to the public for drinking.

If the federal paperwork is approved, the next step would be for South Dakota to cede water rights to the project proponent for an open-ended time-period to be used in what would be the state’s first solution mining, aka in situ leaching, or ISL, and on-site production of the concentrated uranium called yellow cake, which is the raw material for commercial nuclear fuel and military weapons.

In permitting the use of drinking-quality water at any uranium mine site, the EPA has to approve an exception to the Clean Drinking Water Act, thereby exempting the mining company from compliance. That’s because the water cannot be returned to its original quality after ISL and may not be good for human consumption.

“Under its obligation to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act and under EPA’s Tribal Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes, EPA has been consulting and coordinating with several interested tribes to identify the potential effects of the proposed project on traditional cultural places, historic and sacred sites,” the agency announced.

“EPA will continue to consult and coordinate with tribes as necessary throughout the public comment period concerning these proposed permitting actions,” it said. The period for written comments to be submitted is open until May 19. Oral testimony is expected at hearings scheduled leading up to that date.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Tribe takes NRC to mat on uranium permits

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