Saturday, April 4, 2009

More Commentary on Exploratory Uranium Drilling and Water Contamination

Earlier this week, we published an article entitled "Uranium Drilling Doesn't Taint [Area] Water, Report Says; Goliad Residents Dispute Results". The article was from the Victoria, TX Advocate News.

Water contamination is becoming an issue re: the drilling at Coles Hill and the results of recent water testing VUI had done on some wells nearby. Our friend Mark Krueger lives in the Goliad area and has been in touch with PittCo residents about their water test results as well. He has posted the following comments in the Advocate News in response to the recent article:
Smoke and lies. "Exploration causes contamination? There's not really a basis in that conclusion."

How is this proof that punching hundreds of holes into an aquifer won't affect it? Would this not cause pressure changes in the various layers of sand containing the water under pressure?

Uranium does exist in water wells, a lot of wells, but this isn't the issue. The issue is whether the exploration changed the natural flow of the aquifer, allowing oxygenated "new"water from the upper sand to flow into wells surrounding the exploration site, carrying with it increased levels of iron and iron bacteria among other things.

Something very similar to the Golaid situation has occurred in Virginia lately. Several wells around a mile away from an exploration site have suffered intense lead contamination after exploration. Coincidence? Only ten holes were drilled but up to 1,500 feet deep. Lead levels went from 2.8 to 17.9 in one man's well. In another, the lead shot up to over 90ppm. 15ppm is EPA's safe limit.

"Sheva resident Allen Gross believes that the company’s exploratory test drilling has caused lead levels in his well water to rise. The test drilling has been used to “map” the underground deposits of uranium at Coles Hill, helping VUI determine the quantity and quality of the underground ore deposit."

The irony of the whole thing is that Virginia Uranium, Inc. actually tested these wells before they started to explore. The increase in lead is documented by their own test results.

I spoke with Mr. Gross on the telephone. He tells of some of his neighbors and their fear of Mr. Coles (Owner of Coles Hill and VUI). When Mr. Gross asked Mr. Coles about the lead contamination, the response was, "Do you have scientific proof that I contaminated your well?" Of course he has no proof because flow patterns of water in relation to modification of the fabric via exploration has NEVER been studied.

If a fault, fracture or channel under pressure is punctured by a drill bit, could or would the water's behavorial patterns change? THAT is the question, not whether uranium exists. This whole thing is absurd.

Also, Virginia currently has a moratorium on uranium mining. Why? Because by the end of the 1970's, the end result was clear. Irresponsible uranium mining leads to irreversible contamination of groundwater.

VUI is doing everything in its power to get the moratorium lifted in Virginia. For instance, one of the major investors' son is a State Senator. This just gets uglier and uglier.

One more's not so much the uranium as the radium, arsenic, selenium, molybdenum, lead and other toxic heavy metals and radionuclides that come with the uranium when it's liberated. Also, the fact that trace amounts of uranium do exist in water wells doesn't give the uranium miners the right to make it worse. The uranium in my water well is well below EPA standards, and it had better stay that way!

I would think that the first thing to check is whether the exploratory holes lost circulation. In other words, when the drillers were drilling the holes, did the "mud" they inject keep circulating back to the top like it's supposed to, or did it disappear? This is called "losing circulation", in which the drilling mud finds a means of escape. This could be a fault, a fracture or a bed of gravel...anything that water will flow through easily under pressure.

How many of the 803 holes drilled in Goliad County lost circulation? Is there a log somewhere that has this information? This would be the obvious place to start. If the drilling mud took off in a certain direction, why wouldn't everything else?

Here's a theory. If, for example, a driller lost circulation in the second sand (hit a gravel bed, channel, fault or fracture), then could water from the first sand travel vertically down the column dug by the driller, into the second sand? If the water from the first sand could travel through a "weak spot" in the second sand and cause increased flow, then the water in the first sand would have to be replenished from uphill (updip), and therefore cause increased flow of "new" oxygenated recharge water. This would result in increased oxygen in both the first and second sands. Oxygen is what liberates all the metals including iron, lead, uranium, thorium, radium, selenium, arsenic and whatever may be present in the fabric of the soil.

Water flows uphill, downhill and sideways in the aquifer. The water is under pressure, like a plumbing system. The four sands in the Goliad/Victoria area are sealed off from each other by a thick layer of clay. The water in the lower sands has not seen oxygen for a very long time, hundreds of thousands of years. When oxygen (via oxygenated water) enters the lower sands, oxidation occurs. This is when free oxygen attaches itself to the metals, turning them mobile (liquid). The higher the oxygen content of the water, the higher the levels of metals.

Did punching that many holes change the natural flow of the aquifer? Did it introduce oxygen to the water in the lower sands? These are only two of the questions at hand.

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