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News Releases from Region 08

EPA seeks public comment on draft permits and aquifer exemption for uranium mining project in southwestern South Dakota

Public hearings will be held in Valentine, NE and in Rapid City, Hot Springs and Edgemont, SD

03/06/2017
Contact Information: 
Lisa McClain-Vanderpool (mcclain-vanderpool.lisa@epa.gov)
3033126077

(Denver, Colo.  – March 6, 2017) EPA has issued two draft Underground Injection Control (UIC) Area Permits to Powertech (USA) Inc., for injection activities related to a proposed uranium recovery project in the southern Black Hills region in Custer and Fall River Counties of South Dakota. EPA will conduct information sessions combined with public hearings on April 27th and on May 8 through May 11 at the times and locations detailed below.  EPA will accept public comments on the draft permits and a proposed aquifer exemption associated with the project through May 19, 2017.  

The draft permits issued today include a UIC ‘Class III’ Area Permit for injection wells for the in-situ recovery (ISR) of uranium in the Inyan Kara Group aquifers and a UIC ‘Class V’ Area Permit for deep injection wells that would be used to dispose of ISR process waste fluids into the Minnelusa Formation below the Inyan Kara after treatment. Under the terms of the draft permits, waste injected under the Class V permit must be treated prior to being injected and must meet all radioactive waste and hazardous waste standards.  Monitoring of the underground sources of drinking water surrounding the Class III injection wellfields will take place before, during and after ISR operations to ensure the underground sources of drinking water are protected.

EPA is also proposing an aquifer exemption approval in connection with the draft UIC Class III Area Permit. Specifically, this approval would exempt the uranium-bearing portions of the Inyan Kara Group aquifers from protection under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Such an exemption must be in place before ISR activities within these aquifers can occur.

Under its obligation to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act and under EPA’s Tribal Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes, EPA has been consulting and coordinating with several interested Tribes to identify the potential effects of the proposed project on traditional cultural places, historic and sacred sites. EPA will continue to consult and coordinate with Tribes as necessary throughout the public comment period concerning these proposed permitting actions.

The public is encouraged to provide comment on these draft permits and the aquifer exemption by midnight mountain time, May 19, 2017.  EPA’s final permit decision will be based on an evaluation of comments received and a determination of whether underground sources of drinking water are protected. The draft permits can be found at the EPA Region 8 UIC Program website:  https://www.epa.gov/uic/uic-epa-region-8

How to Comment: Written comments must be received by email, fax or mail sent to:

Valois Shea (shea.valois@epa.gov); Fax: 303-312-6741

U.S. EPA Region 8 Mail Code: 8WP-SUI

1595 Wynkoop Street

Denver, CO  80202-1129

Public Information Sessions and Hearing Information (The public may also provide written and/or verbal comments during the following EPA public hearings):

Thursday, April 27, 2017 from 4:00 to 8:30 p.m. (with a break from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.)

Niobrara Lodge

803 US Highway 20

Valentine, Nebraska 69201

Monday-Tuesday, May 8-9, 2017, 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. (with a break from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.)

The Best Western Ramkota Hotel, 2111 N. LaCrosse Street, Rapid City, South Dakota 57701

Wednesday, May 10, 2017, from 1:00 to 8:00 pm (with a break from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.)

The Mueller Center, 801 S 6th Street, Hot Springs, South Dakota 57747

Thursday, May 11, 2017, from 1:00 to 8:00 pm (with a break from 5:00 to 6:00 pm)

St. James Catholic Church, 310 3rd Avenue, Edgemont, South Dakota 57735