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Board of Minerals meets on Powertech

PIERRE -- The state Board of Minerals and Environment held a teleconference Thursday about a federal agency's meeting schedule regarding Powertech's applications for in situ mining of uranium in Custer and Fall River counties.

PIERRE - The state Board of Minerals and Environment held a teleconference Thursday about a federal agency's meeting schedule regarding Powertech's applications for in situ mining of uranium in Custer and Fall River counties.

The board at the previous meeting in March requested an update. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to hold meetings in the coming days at four communities (see At A Glance).

The board's chairman, Rex Hagg, of Rapid City, cautioned others on the call Thursday about the boundaries of the topic.

"We can't discuss anything going into the merits, because we're not in session going back to the hearing," Hagg said.

Hagg's comment referred to the board's hearing that began in September 2013 but was subsequently interrupted in deference to EPA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state Water Management Board.

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"Mostly what I wanted to see last month was some historical information," board member Daryl Englund of Brookings said. "That was exactly what I was looking for."

Board member Glenn Blumhardt, of Bowdle, wondered how quickly EPA would move ahead. "They got any idea?"

Mike Cepak, a state Department of Environment and Natural Resources staff person, was guarded in his response.

"The answer to that is we don't have a clear idea. It might be months. It might be another year or two," Cepak said.

"We've been monitoring it, and that's the latest stuff we have," he added.

Hagg thanked EPA and DENR staff. "This was a great historic update on the status of it, and that is what we were looking for," he said.

The board plans to meet in person May 18 in Pierre, Hagg said.

At A Glance

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Here's the schedule for EPA's public meetings on Powertech. All times are local:

April 27 - Niobrara Lodge, 4-8 p.m., Valentine, Nebraska;

May 8-9 - Best Western Ramkota, 1-8 p.m., Rapid City;

May 10 - The Mueller Center, 1-8 p.m., Hot Springs; and

May 11 - St. James Catholic Church, 1-8 p.m., Edgemont.

The Valentine meeting will break from 6 to 6:30 p.m. The Rapid City, Hot Springs and Edgemont meetings will break from 5 to 6 p.m.

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