Energy policy — nuclear: Aquifer protection the issue in Powertech’s plans for in situ uranium operation

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Protection of present and future groundwater sources is at the heart of the struggle for Powertech to get their proposed Centennial operation underway up in Weld County. The company is hoping to shape the rules to be implemented as authorized by recent legislation (H.B. 08-1161). The uranium exploration and production company would be essentially required to put the aquifer back to original condition after active mining ends. Here’s a report from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

“We can’t anticipate everything we’re going to come across,” [Powertech attorney John D. Fognani] said, adding that it is possible uranium extraction could move to a part of the mine site that hasn’t been developed yet. But the law requires Powertech to test the water across the entire site before it begins mining, said Assistant Colorado Attorney General Cheryl Linden, who was conducting the meeting. “Maybe I’m missing something here,” she said, wondering how Powertech could call its tests “baseline” if mining had already begun there.

David Berry, Mined Land Reclamation Office director, said it’s going to be a challenge for Powertech’s proposed mine to “mesh” with the law. “We’re going to have to make sure that 1161’s integrity remains,” he said. “I understand the operational sequence you’re describing. It’s going to be difficult.”[…]

Neither Fognani nor the Colorado Mining Association defended their previous claims that public comments on uranium prospecting and the baseline study are illegal. Powertech, through Fognani, claimed in its response to a recent version of the proposed rules that such public involvement would be financially unsustainable for the mining industry. Linden said state law clearly allows for public comment on those issues.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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