On Monday night, the Rapid City Common Council approved a resolution of “grave concern” regarding PowerTech’s desire to use water from the Madison Aquifer to do in-situ mining of uranium in the southwestern part of the state.
There were a lot of people at Monday night’s meeting to speak in favor of the resolution. There was one person, a lobbyist for PowerTech, who spoke in opposition.
Somewhere along the way, the resolution was changed from the resolution posted on the city’s website. The resolution was changed from outright opposition to PowerTech’s plan to a resolution of “grave concern.”
That’s too bad. It was made clear Monday that those people opposed to in-situ mining of uranium in the Black Hills are more vocal than those who support the plan or those who just don’t care.
Those speaking in favor of the resolution came from many walks of life, including ranchers, farmers, physicians, engineers, businessmen and former miners. Most of these people were well-prepared and made compelling arguments against risking polluting the water from the Inyan Kara and Madison aquifers.
Council member Jerry Wright brought up the state’s abysmal history of cleaning up after mining companies pack up and leave the state. Council member Charity Doyle said PowerTech’s plan was “brilliant on paper,” but she noted that in practice, in-situ mining has “yet to be done safely.” PowerTech cannot prove in-situ mining of uranium is safe and consequently they were unable to obtain Colorado permits, she said.
“So here they come knocking in South Dakota,” she said.
She also noted many people from different backgrounds have testified in opposition to the process, while only lobbyists speak in favor of it.
Councilwoman Bonny Petersen pointed out that the legislators who passed measures to allow putting our water at risk, didn’t bother to show up to oppose the resolution.
Doyle’s comments on the issue were compelling and worth taking time to view on the city’s website. She said while she appreciated the effort expended on the resolution, she said she would have preferred a stronger version.
The “grave concerns” the council expressed in their resolution were enough to have passed a resolution in opposition. Such a resolution would have sent a much more powerful message to the state regulators who will make the decision on whether or not to give PowerTech the permits they will need to start using our water to extract our uranium for the profit of a Canadian company.
From the resolution: “WHEREAS, due to the unanswered questions regarding the safety of the community’s water supply, the Common Council of the City of Rapid City believes that the proposed in-situ mining of uranium in the Black Hills poses an unacceptable risk to the primary source of Rapid City’s drinking water.”
What more could the council possibly need? If there is even the remotest risk of polluting our water supply with radioactivity, then the city council should be more than “gravely concerned.”
They should have had the courage to strongly oppose in situ uranium mining. And those legislators who weakened our environmental laws, should be voted out of office. And the sooner, the better.