Energy policy — nuclear: Fremont County request for a report from an independent water expert delays exploration permit

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

The commission heard more than three hours of testimony during a public hearing Tuesday which focused on Australia-based Black Range Minerals’ request to expand exploration on an additional 2,220 acres of property known as the Hansen Deposit, which is believed to be the largest uranium deposit in the district, said Michael Haynes, Black Range managing director. The commission voted to table the issue until its 10 a.m. Sept. 28 meeting to allow the county’s independent hydrologist a chance to comment on the expansion…

Of the 19 speakers who voiced opinions during the hearing, only two were in favor of the expansion. Of those who opposed it, concerns were voiced about high levels of uranium in domestic water wells to threats to wildlife and plummeting property values. Virgil Burke said his well has, “Gone up to three times the allowable limit (for uranium) since they started drilling the first holes. It has cost me $5,000 to get the radiation down to where it is safe.”[…]

“There are elevated uranium contents in that area — some have gone down, some have gone up, but it could be normal sample variability,” [Black Range hydrologist Susan Wyman] said. “We have not seen a statistical increase in water (uranium) concentrations.”

Opponents also said new monitoring wells were not drilled to get background data before exploration drilling resumed. “Those wells were to be drilled to monitor for the health and safety of the residents and they were not drilled. Who was watching them instead of rubber stamping compliance forms,” Nancy Seger, who opposed the proposal, asked. Wyman said the monitoring wells were put on hold because Black Range was looking at an additional exploration area and it would be appropriate to locate some of those monitoring wells in the new exploration area, if approved.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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