Saturday, March 14, 2009

More from Mark Krueger re: U Mining and Water

Below are the questions Mr. Krueger posted as a comment to the article in the Victoria Advocate in response to the article announcing the 24-hour uranium answers hotline. They're essentially the same questions that Southside has been asking...or should be asking...about Coles Hill.

Fri Mar 13, 2009 03:28:01 CDT

The obvious thing to do for someone without any knowledge is to call this hotline, then call URAC and UIAG to compare notes but the key is to have enough knowledge to ask the right questions:

1) "ISL Uranium mining is safe for surrounding property owners". Where is the scientific data to back this statement? How many ISL uranium mine closures in Texas have had long-term studies performed? Who performed the studies? Were studies performed outside the mining zone as well? What were the results and where can I find them? If no studies have been performed, then why not when they easily could have been over the last 30 years?

2) "Not a single documented case of a private well being contaminated exists (in Texas)". How many nondocumented cases exist? How many people have expressed concern but didn't have the knowledge or opportunity to test their water beforehand? Do any documented cases exist outside of Texas? Does the mining company make a concerted effort to inform the community before they explore? If so, will they provide up-front water testing to all the surrounding neighbors before they explore? Will the mining company absorb the expense of periodic water testing for the neighbors while they're mining? What about after mining?

3) "The fabric of the soil in the sand layers is homogeneous (all the same) so water flows evenly and can be controlled". If so, then why do water well drillers sometimes drill a well and by doing so affect another well, while in other cases no affect is seen at all? Why do water well drillers sometimes lose circulation? Are there gravel beds, faults, fractures and other fabric of less resistance which allow the water to flow more readily under pressure? How many times during exploration has a driller lost circulation? How would losing circulation in several boreholes affect the aquifer and what would this indicate?

4) "The oxidized isotopes (liqufied heavy metals) will reprecipitate (turn solid) within 20 feet of the mining zone". If it took hundreds of thousands of years to precipitate under very specific conditions the first time, how is it known that the mere presence of hydrogen sulfide will immediately reduce the uranium, arsenic, selenium, radium, radon and other constituents after they're mobilized? If this is the case, then why are monitor wells required to detect excursions? Why does Nuclear Regulatory Commission Study CR-6870 show that levels of oxidized heavy metals were shown to increase after hydrogen sulfide injection and restoration? Why does this study suggest that stabilization after restoration may take as long as five years, and long-term monitoring (13 years) may be necessary to quantify accurate results?

5) "Spending taxpayers money on lawsuits is a waste". Why has Kleberg County spent over a million so far? Is it because the State relaxed restoration standards for the company and the citizens aren't going to accept that? Is it because of leaks and spills of thousands of gallons of radioactive water and this causes concern by the citizens? Why has Kleberg County spent that much money?

Other questions:

If I lease and something happens to a neighbor's well, will the mining company take care of any and all expenses (lawsuits)? If so, for how long after mining is complete?

PVC is used in much of the operation. If the PVC cracks or a joint comes loose, a radioactive spill will occur. How quickly will the spill be detected? How is the spill cleaned up? How many gallons are lost in a typical spill?

Much of the toxic wastewater produced will go to an evaporation pond. How much radon gas will evaporate from the pond? If the pond leaks, can the leakage enter the aquifer? How is a pond leak resolved if it occurs? How are the radioactive salts from the evaporation pond disposed of?

What if an injection or extraction (production) pump fails? What happens next?

How much water is consumed in a typical restoration? (It's millions of gallons, just how many?)

When uranium bottomed at $7 per pound, most ISL uranium mining companies filed bankruptcy and abandoned the mining sites without restoring the water first. What if that were to happen today?

UEC has an extremely well done presentation put together which portrays ISL mining as perfect and without flaw in perfect conditons. However, we live in an imperfect world and nature will not allow perfection. Flaws will exist, risks will be taken and mistakes will be made.

Even after all that, common sense will tell you not to pee in your water well and then put pressure on it. Injecting into a drinking water aquifer to liberate these radioactive metals is doing just that as far as I'm concerned. If it needs to be done, then it needs to be done far away from people's drinking water until it is perfected.

Victoria District Attorney Steve Tyler once asked me, "Wouldn't you agree that the best way to predict one's future is to look into their past?" I agree. UEC doesn't have much of a past, but what is there isn't very shiny. Leaving boreholes open for the torrential rains of 2007 to wash down them (oxidizing the ore in the lower sands) and being cited by TRRC doesn't look too good, not to mention the radioactive tailings they left on top of the ground. Honest mistake or oversight maybe? It doesn't matter. It happened, indicating that other things will probably "happen" regardless of the reason.

I didn't see the Hotline phone number on the website, but I did see this...

"The Uranium Committee has recently hired a contract public relations consultant to assist them with media and public perception in the communities where they are working."

This tells me that public awareness is growing, the public wants answers and this appears to be an attempt on behalf of the mining industry to resolve this issue. I hope the Hotline is genuine and not geared as a sales pitch but history and logic tell me that it is.

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