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OPINION: Powertech should come clean when promoting uranium mining

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
The Daily Republic
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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

By Rebecca Leas

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know natural gas is the new major focus for energy. Natural gas has negatively affected the nuclear industry, resulting in decreased demand for uranium.

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Germany is nearly nuclear free, and other countries, including the U.S., are closing down reactors. The U.S.’s reactors are in ill repair and very susceptible to weather events, earthquakes and terrorism.

Our storage of spent fuel is outdated, making our reactors very vulnerable. Europe uses a “HOSS” (hardened on-site storage) system, greatly reducing the risks. The U.S. is shutting down reactors and has sufficient uranium available. France is perfecting a system of re-using uranium, which will further decrease its demand.

Confusing the public are Powertech employees, shareholders and supporters writing letters to the editor, but not identifying themselves as such. This is important for the public to know.

For example, Rep. Mike Verchio stated cancer wasn’t a problem in Fall River County, but cited no source. He failed to mention that he helped write and pass SB 158, taking away our state protection (along with legislators Russell, Rampleberg, Gosch and Lust).

Randy Brich’s letter failed to mention his beneficial PT relationship and his wife’s being a PT lobbyist in Pierre. He claims the Crawford, Neb., mine has no problems, but government documents show otherwise. Cindy Turner wrote a forum bemoaning the Rapid City Council’s resolution comparing the proceedings to the Salem Witch Trials and calling Dakota Rural Action an “environmental extremist group,” and then threw in pine beetles.

Bev Gehman wrote an outrageous Rapid City Journal forum engaging in extreme name calling against an Edgemont rancher, and Bill Curran refers to opponents as “Chicken Littles.” Rep. Mark Kirkeby called Mayor Kooiker a liar. Jeepers, what was that about? Do these people have shares, leases or both?

Powertech CEO Clements’ article belittled a Rapid City church for opposing the mine and stated “ISL mining is ‘intrinsically safe’ ” — contrary to EPA admittance that in-situ leach technology is way ahead of its health and safety knowledge. Clements’ claims of safety are unethical and without scientific support.

In fact, because the damage done underground is “hidden” and we can’t observe it nor perfectly predict what occurs, the likelihood of even greater long-term damage occurring is eminent. Powertech’s Hollenbeck wrote “In-situ uranium recovery: facts not fear.”

Interestingly, if one reads the NRC, EPA, USGS literature, as well as studies from premiere geology programs, one concludes this is bad business. Hollenbeck’s statements are mere conjecture, not fact. Citizens should read the scientific documents themselves and not rely on what a company “claims” it will do — that is called a sales pitch, not fact.

Citizens opposing uranium mining have been reading scientific documents, and in their letters to the editor have repeatedly referred to government documents and scientific sources. Peer-reviewed science, not sales pitches, is what our state leaders should use to guide South Dakota’s future.

Beware: water will be the delimiting factor for future economic growth and sustainability.

-Dr. Rebecca Leas, of Rapid City, is a professor emeritus and health education specialist.

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