Thursday, March 26, 2009

Virginia Uranium Says Test Drilling Not Cause of Well Contamination

What else did we expect them to say?

By TIM DAVIS/Star-Tribune Editor
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 9:26 AM EDT

In a statement released Tuesday, Virginia Uranium Inc. said it is not responsible for high lead levels in some wells near the Coles Hill uranium deposit.

Concerns about well testing around the uranium deposit, about six miles northeast of Chatham, were raised at a meeting two weeks ago sponsored by the Pittsylvania County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Deborah Lovelace of Gretna repeated her concerns at last week's Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors meeting, showing board members jugs of water, including one from a well with high levels of lead.

"This well was fine before the drilling started," she said. "I wonder how many other people are in that same situation?"

The water came from Allen Gross's well on Motley Road, about a mile from Coles Hill.

Gross, who also attended the NAACP and supervisors' meetings, said when the first test was done in 2007 the lead in his well water was 2.8. When the last test was done late last year, it had risen to 17.9. The maximum allowed for drinking water is 15.

Gross has been drinking bottled water since January.

Virginia Uranium Inc. founder and chairman Walter Coles and Henry Hurt, an investor and spokesman for the company, were at the NAACP meeting.

In a statement, the company said it was required to collect and test water samples at four ponds and four residential wells as part of its exploratory drilling permit from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy in 2007.

It also was required to monitor 15 locations in surrounding creeks and tributaries for heavy metals.

Although not required by the permit, Virginia Uranium sought permission to test wells at homes within about a mile of the site to determine the general water quality in the vicinity of Coles Hill.

More than 80 wells were voluntarily tested. There are about 200 wells within a mile of the uranium deposit.

Virginia Uranium issued the following statement Tuesday:

"In response to media reports of concerns over lead levels in some residential wells in the general vicinity of the Coles Hill uranium deposit, we have reviewed the data and can state categorically that our permitted drilling activities have nothing to do with these lead levels. Wells with reported lead levels in the water are all in geologically and hydrologically isolated areas that are unaffected by activities conducted by our company.

"While none of the residential wells are located in a watershed that could be affected by our activities, the simple laws of gravity and hydrology preclude water running uphill - whether in the ground or on the surface - as it would have to do to reach these sites.

"In addition, ridges of land and several creeks create boundaries that physically separate the area of our activities from the sites of the wells in question.

"The indicated levels of lead may be caused by any number of possibilities that could vary from household to household. Among the possibilities, according to the Virginia Department of Health, is household plumbing.

"As we have advised in the past, anyone concerned with their water test results should consult the Pittsylvania County Health Department for an assessment of their particular situation."

Comments from our friend Mark Krueger in TX near the Goliad Mine site:

Mark Krueger wrote on Mar 25, 2009 6:34 PM:

" Something caused the lead level to go up in the water. The likelihood of "natural occurrences" is about zero. That's proof enough for me. "

Mark Krueger wrote on Mar 25, 2009 6:16 PM:

" Drilling the exploration holes could have caused a pressure release, causing water from a different path to flow into the 60-foot deep sands from uphill. The sands are not level plains. The paths of flow in the aquifer zig-zag like a river and also follow hills and valleys, so indeed water may flow uphill if it's forced to do so under pressure.

Goliad County - Eight water well owners have complained of increased (documented) contamination of iron bacteria, iron and other elevated minerals during exploration (800+ holes). Since exploration stopped several months ago, the wells have cleared up.

Goliad County is sueing Uranium Energy Corp. for violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, stemming from intentional contamination. The effects of concern were from exploration only. The mining hasn't even started yet. "

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