Crow Butte Mining drills for uranium at the Wohlers Ranch on the Niobrara River near Marsland, Nebraska. The area is about 50 miles south of the Pine Ridge Reservation border in neighboring South Dakota. Photo courtesy Wohlers Ranch

Oglala Sioux Tribe continues fight against uranium mining

Feds could scrap public hearing on Crow Butte uranium
Oglala Sioux Tribe ready to argue
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor

CHADRON, Nebraska –The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is warning that it may cancel a public comment session, if people don’t register two weeks in advance to speak here October 28 about the proposed Marsland Expansion Area of the Crow Butte uranium mine and mill.

The date is one of two that commission staff set for October, in order to obtain input from tribes, individual tribal members, and others on the project, which the Oglala Sioux Nation is fighting in administrative court.

“If there is insufficient interest in making oral statements, the board may cancel the October 28 session,” the agency staff said in a written notice, which “strongly urged” interested parties to register by October 12.

Approval for the Marsland Expansion Area would allow the Canadian uranium giant Cameco Corp. to extract and process radioactive minerals from 4,500 more acres of its 27-year-old mine and mill site between Crawford, Nebraska and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Cameco Corp. is the world’s largest private uranium producer. In early 2018, it ceased all its U.S. uranium production, citing weak demand in the nuclear power industry. However, it continues seeking permits for its mothballed sites in Nebraska and Wyoming, in preparation for a potential market rebound.

Cameco Corporation on YouTube: 'World's largest uranium producer'

It employs the in-situ recovery (ISR) method, which takes local water to inject a leach solution into drill holes in the ore, extracts uranium from the solution, and processes it into solid yellowcake on site for shipping to fuel production facilities for nuclear power plants.

Toxic and radioactive by-products also are shipped away, while wastewater is drained on the surface or forced deep underground.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe contests the original Crow Butte Mine and an earlier expansion named North Trend, as well as the Marsland Expansion Area, which are operated by Cameco Corp.’s wholly owned U.S. subsidiary Crow Butte Resources Inc.

Other intervenors in all three licensing cases are: Antonia Loretta Afraid of Bear Cook, Bruce McIntosh, Debra White Plume, Western Nebraska Resources Council, and Aligning for Responsible Mining.

The tribe’s appeal to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board is set for an evidentiary hearing October 30, in Crawford, Nebraska.

Lawyers are expected to call witnesses to testify that the application and environmental assessment for Marsland did not provide sufficient information regarding the effects of the proposed expansion on adjacent surface and groundwater resources.

To add your voice to the chorus, notify the commission staff by October 12 that you want to speak at the October 28 session from 2 to 4 p.m. Mountain Time in the Scottsbluff Room of the Chadron State College Student Center, 1000 Main St., Chadron, Nebraska.

Requests to make oral statements may be sent to Administrative Judge G. Paul Bollwerk III, Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel, Mail Stop T-3A02, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C., 20555-0001; by fax to 301-415-5205; or by email to and

Anyone who prefers to submit a written statement may do so at the above addresses, including the Office of the Secretary, Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C., 20555-0001; fax to 301-415-1101; or email to

Those interested in submitting an audio-recorded statement may do so by emailing the recording as an .mp3, .mp4, or .dss file, not exceeding 17 megabytes, to, or by submitting the recording via U.S. mail on a CD or DVD to Administrative Judge G. Paul Bollwerk III, Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel, Mail Stop T-3A02, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C., 20555-0001.

The evidentiary hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. Mountain Time, on October 30, at the Crawford Community Building, 1005 1st St., in Crawford. Only representatives and witnesses of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the NRC staff, and Crow Butte Resources Inc. can participate, the agency said.


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