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LETTER: Uranium mining: at what cost to our water?

To the Editor:

Powertech/Azarga Uranium Corp. propose mining uranium via the in-situ leach process at Dewey-Burdock near Edgemont. Let's look at a few problems with this proposal:

• In-situ leach uranium mining is done directly in a water-bearing aquifer.

• Powertech/Azarga wants to mine two of Fall River County's largest aquifers.

• Rock layers around the mining aquifer must provide adequate confinement to prevent contamination.

• Studies indicate rock layers on site don't have adequate confinement.

• On site are approximately 4,000 old drill holes, many drilled before regulations required lining or closing properly. Most hole conditions are unknown; at least one old drill hole leaks to the surface.

• Studies indicate water leaks between formations, implicating old drill holes and fractures.

• Huge chimneys (breccia pipes) go through otherwise impermeable rock layers in the area, undermining any finding of adequate confinement.

• Potential full-scale uranium mining plan for the Black Hills will demand an inordinate extraction/pollution of an already compromised aquifer system. While salty, aquifers to be mined are providing water for ranching, domestic use and can be filtered for drinking.

• Powertech/Azarga would not pay a dime for the water used, and the quantity is more than the water used by Rapid City.