Native Sun News Today: Groups fight uranium mining in Black Hills

Activists from the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance are calling for public participation in EPA comment forums. “We must once again do everything in our power to protect our waters,” they state. Photo courtesy Black Hills Clean Water Alliance

Rape of the He’ Sapa: From gold to uranium
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor

RAPID CITY –– The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s release of a shortlist April 4 containing Homestake Mining Co.’s “apparent violations” of surface and groundwater requirements in uranium mill cleanup underscored the latest efforts to prevent EPA permitting of proposed new mines and mills in the Black Hills.

“This means that we need you -- you know, the person who opposes uranium mining but doesn't know where to start -- to help,” said Lilias Jarding, founder of the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance.

The organization and others are calling for people to take part in Rapid City Earth Day Expo events April 21-23, as well as for written comment by May 19, and for oral or written testimony at four hearings April 27 through May 11 on EPA draft permits that would allow uranium mining and waste disposal to take place in the underground water tables at the Dewey Burdock site in the southern Black Hills.

Headquartered in China, Azarga Uranium Corp., formerly Powertech Uranium Corp., wants an EPA underground injection permit for 4,000 wells in the Inyan Kara Group of aquifers, so it can conduct in situ leach (ISL) mining and milling of yellow cake on the 10,000-acre site it is leasing at the Cheyenne River headwaters 50 miles west of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near Edgemont.

The company also wants EPA to grant it a deep underground disposal well permit, allowing the mine and mill to pump its wastewater through four wells into the Minnelusa Aquifer for final disposition at a depth of 2,800 feet.

If Azarga Uranium Corp. doesn’t obtain the deep disposal permit, it is set to seek a permit to apply the wastewater to the land surface, according to the environmental impact statement prepared for a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license that is being contested by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, headquartered at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The uranium solution mining and milling project, the first of its kind proposed in South Dakota, would require the state to sign over 9,000 gallons of public water rights per minute (more than what Rapid City uses) for at least 20 years.

“We’ve held Azarga/Powertech Uranium off since 2010 with the help of many dedicated volunteers, grassroots allies, expert witnesses, and tribal historical preservation officers,” the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance said in calling for public participation in EPA hearings. “We must once again do everything in our power to protect our waters.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission listed five “apparent” water violations for Homestake’s uranium mill waste cleanup near Grants-Milan, New Mexico, for which the agency is dropping penalties due to a dispute settlement.
1) Implementation of the groundwater reinjection program is being carried out in a manner inconsistent with the company’s Corrective Action Program.

2) Discharge of liquid effluents from the reverse osmosis plant is exceeds the site ground water protection standards established in the license.

3) Homestake Mining Co. has failed to report to the NRC the results of all effluent monitoring required by the license.

4) The company hasn’t obtained monthly composite samples as required by the license.

5) The company has been discharging the liquid effluents with byproducts to land application areas without first obtaining Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval.
To comment on the proposed action in writing, using email, fax or postal service, make submissions to Valois Shea at, fax: 303-312-6741, or U.S. EPA Region 8, Mail Code 8WP-SUI, 1595 Wynkoop St., Denver, CO 80202-1129

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Rape of the He’ Sapa: From gold to uranium

(Contact Talli Nauman at

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