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People gathered this week at the Best Western Ramkota in Rapid City for the state permit hearing over the proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium mine.

Kristina Barker, Journal staff

Marvin Kammerer stepped to the podium Wednesday afternoon and summed up his feelings of the state permit hearings on a proposed uranium mine near Edgemont.

"This is getting to be kind of a joke," Kammerer said. 

The frustration began bleeding into a lot of voices during the third day of hearings on the proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium mine. Remarks became clipped and contentious. The court reporter at one point threw up her arms, yelling at everyone to not talk over each other so she could transcribe. And hearing chairman Rex Hagg upbraided Kammerer for his language and tone.

"If you think it's a joke, you don't have to be here, and I'll ask you to leave," Hagg said. "If you want to stay and participate appropriately, you can."

Kammerer, a Meade County resident, said he'd behave.

Opponents like him objected repeatedly to documents introduced by Powertech Uranium Corp.'s attorney during the testimony Richard Blubaugh, a vice president for the company.

The opponents joined attorney Bruce Ellison's objection to copies of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's preliminary license for the project, that were being shown by Powertech attorney Max Main. That document was one of several that mining opponents said was not relevant and was skewing the proceedings.

"Powertech is attempting to convince this board with documents that are not prepared by any of the people who are testifying and can be questioned," Ellison said during one objection, adding that it was "an effort to convince this board that things are somehow sufficient and proper."

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Powertech attorney Max Main continued to try to question Blubaugh for most of the afternoon. Blubaugh, vice president for health, safety and environmental resources for the company, is set to be cross-examined Thursday morning by the mine's opponents.

The proposed Dewey-Burdock mine, which would be about 15 miles northwest of Edgemont, would employ a method known as in situ. That means the company would inject oxygenated water into the ground to absorb uranium. The water would be pumped back to the surface, where the uranium would be extracted and processed.

Throughout public input and other testimony Monday and Tuesday, opponents railed against the project. Among other things, opponents worry that the project will pollute or drain the region's aquifers; that potential contamination could harm wildlife and livestock; and that the South Dakota Legislature's removal of state regulation may hinder oversight of the mine.

Mine proponents argue that it will bring jobs to the Edgemont area and tax revenue to the region and state.

Contact Joe O'Sullivan at 394-8414 or joe.osullivan@rapidcityjournal.com

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