Hearing on proposed uranium mine set in Rapid City for September

2013-06-20T05:00:00Z 2013-09-11T14:12:26Z Hearing on proposed uranium mine set in Rapid City for SeptemberKevin Woster Journal staff Rapid City Journal
June 20, 2013 5:00 am  • 

The fight over a proposed uranium mine in the Edgemont area will come to Rapid City in September for a hearing on a state permit the project needs to proceed.

The South Dakota Board of Minerals and the Environment will open its hearing Sept. 23 on whether to grant a large-scale mining permit to Powertech Uranium for its proposed mine near Edgemont.

Board member Rex Hagg, a Rapid City lawyer who is the hearing chairman, said Wednesday the hearing typically would be held in Pierre, where the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has its headquarters. But he moved the meeting to Rapid City to accommodate interested parties who sought the change.  

"We understand it's a big deal, and there's a lot of interest in this out there," he said.

The hearing will begin at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 23 at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel & Convention Center, 2111 N. Lacrosse St., and could last several days.

Rebecca Leas of Rapid City, a member of the Dakota Rural Action agricultural and conservation group, said in a news release Wednesday that the board made the right choice in setting the hearing in Rapid City.

"I am very happy about the site being changed to Rapid City to accommodate the many working people, families, ranchers and citizens who want to have a say and be present for the large-scale mine permit hearing," Leas said.

The state mining permit is one of several Powertech needs to construct a mining operation designed to extract dissolved uranium through an injection-extraction well system. It will not use the open strip mines of past uranium mines in western South Dakota.

The mine will use water, however, to extract the uranium. As a result, Powertech also needs two water permits from the state, as well as an approved groundwater discharge plan. It also needs federal permits from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mark Hollenbeck, manager of Powertech's proposed Dewey-Burdock Project northwest of Edgemont, said the company has already received preliminary federal licensing and expects the actual license later this year.

The hearings on the state large-scale mining permit in September will be followed by a hearing by the state Water Management Board on the water permits in October. The water rights hearing begins Oct. 7, also at the Ramkota in Rapid City.

Hollenbeck said he is ready to present the company's case for the project.

"This is where we've been working to get to, and we finally get to present our case to a quasi-judicial board that judges our facts," he said.

Environmental specialist for the DENR staff have recommended approval for the water rights and the large-scale mining permits. But it is up to the two citizens boards to grant or deny the permits.

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or kevin.woster@rapidcityjournal.com

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. cruzified
    Report Abuse
    cruzified - June 22, 2013 10:14 am
    Rex Hagg didn't move it because he was concerned about the people who will be affected by poison water and air. It's a ploy by the people who will benefit economically from the dectruction of the Black Hills. Mark Hollenbeck, Lance Russell, and Carolyn Fines are names to remember when the future generations of children are sick and dying of cancers linked to this uranium mining and the poisonous water. Will we have to add Rex Hagg to the list?
  2. lilacs817
    Report Abuse
    lilacs817 - June 20, 2013 2:59 pm
    The decision needs to be made using a risk/benefit analysis. The risks of an accident or problem are too high to justify the benefits. Even under the best circumstances, the quality of water will not be the same as before the project. Should there be a problem or accident or wildfire, the results could be permanent and disastrous to our health and environment. Our kids deserve better! We can't gamble on the backs of our children for a temporary profit to a few.
  3. Pierce3473
    Report Abuse
    Pierce3473 - June 20, 2013 9:42 am
    I believe the move to bring the hearing to Rapid City is a good, but I hope the move does not influence the board’s responsibility to make the right educated decision.
    This decision needs to be made on the actual facts and not be influenced by outside groups; and the educated professionals at the state and federal level are on track to approve this project and the permits associated.
    I know several people in the Edgemont area and they, after hearing all the facts and not using emotions and false statements; have embraced the project and welcome the jobs and economic development to the region of Southwestern South Dakota, which has in my opinion been left in the past since the military left the area at the end of the cold war.
    I myself have studied the facts of this proposed mining expansion and find it will be done within compliance of all existing applicable standards and that is all you can ask of the organization pursing the uranium.
    This is not unlike drilling for oil and fracking; as technology changes we can safely extract minerals from the earth without leaving a major scare on the land and is with current science; safe to the environment.
    Living in western South Dakota all my life, I believe this is a good project; the safe guards are in place and it would be good for economic development in the Edgemont area.
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