Energy policy — nuclear: Speakers at EPA hearing at the Nunn Community Center are mostly against Powertech’s proposed pump test

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From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

About 60 people attended the public hearing at the Nunn Community Center. It was the second time around for the test permit application, which the EPA, after hearing public comment and reviewing Powertech Uranium Corp.’s previous pump tests, approved late last year. But the agency withdrew the permit in February when it received a couple of petitions for the final permit to go before the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board. The withdrawal allowed the agency to rewrite the permit as draft language, thereby addressing some petitioner concerns, such as the lack of language about zero pressure requirements — in other words, water will flow back into the well by gravity alone — in the previous permit. Those are pertinent because it makes clear that there’s no chance of the pump test breaching the confined area of the test, said Richard Mylott, EPA spokesman. Valois Shea, an EPA geologist, emphasized this permit would not allow any uranium to be extracted. Powertech, a Canadian company, would need to apply for a class III permit for in-situ leaching and go through a similar process of EPA review and public comment, she said…

Nearly every speaker — more than 15 spoke — expressed worries that the groundwater would be permanently tainted should uranium mining occur. Most also said in-situ leaching has a poor track record of safety worldwide, to the point it has been banned in some areas, including a couple of Canadian provinces.

Randy King said he is the manager of a drinking water treatment plant in a major northern Colorado community. “All of us understand the relevance and importance of source protection,” he said. “Don’t let it get polluted in the first place. Once it’s been polluted, people will never touch it again.”

Howard Williams of Carr said contamination is a certainty. “It’s like removing a brain tumor with a meat cleaver. The operation will be successful, but the host will die.” He said 30,000 people get water from the Fox Hill aquifer…

Williams said there are many unplugged wells from the 1970s and 1980s in the Centennial area that were not properly sealed. That allows for the possible migration of contaminants through vertical pathways. The EPA should require Powertech to ensure the integrity of the historic wells before issuance of any permit, he said, and the results of an investigation into the wells should be made public.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

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