The weekend blizzard led to the cancellation of the state's permit hearings on uranium mining after all.

After assembling briefly on Monday morning in Rapid City for the kickoff of its scheduled hearings, the state Water Management Board decided to postpone due to the clean-up from the storm.

The WMB hearings are one of two sets of state hearings on the proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium mine near Edgemont.

The board, representatives of Powertech Uranium Corp., the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources and opponents had gathered as scheduled Monday morning at the Best Western Ramkota. About two dozen mining opponents, along with some supporters of the mine from the Edgemont area also made it to the hearings.

But mining opponents asked that the proceedings be postponed, saying they worried that not enough of their ranks would be able to dig out from underneath the snow and fallen tree limbs to attend.

Out of 200 informal opponents to the project, only seven had made it to Monday's meeting, according to Clean Water Alliance attorney Bruce Ellison. Ellison also asked that the hearings be postponed because he said the storm left him without access to his notes. 

The delay frustrated Mark Hollenbeck, an Edgemont area resident and project manager for Powertech.

"The affected parties live in Edgemont," Hollenbeck said. "And we are bending over backwards for the opposition to have their day in court in Rapid City.

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"The oldest play in their playbook is death by delay," he added. "And they're doing pretty good at it."

The board's decision means it will now use what was scheduled as the second week of hearings in place of this week. That means the water permit hearings will now begin Oct. 28 in Rapid City.

The board also scheduled a new second week of hearings for Dec. 9 in Rapid City.

The other set of state permit hearings, conducted by the state Board of Minerals and Environment, are scheduled to resume in Rapid City during the week of Nov. 11.

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

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