(May 14, 2009)
GOLIAD--One Coastal Bend county is contesting plans for a new uranium mine. Today, a court hearing was held in Goliad county for residents to voice their opinions.
The Coastal Bend is the second biggest area in the nation for uranium mining. This is the first time a Coastal Bend county is challenging a permit application.
This 1100 acres of land in Goliad County is the latest battleground over uranium mining. County leaders are challenging the Texas Commission on Environment Quality over its initial decision to approve a permit for Uranium Energy Corporation to mine here.
The county is concerned about the future of ground water in the area.
"If there are going to issue a permit that they have checked everything that they possibly can to get it right," said Goliad County Judge Harold Gleinser.
So a public hearing was held in Goliad where residents issued their own verdict on the matter.
"What's the long term effect to livestock both as food source and a genetic source to drinking that water that's contaminated with a heavy metal," said Pat Calhoun of the Goliad County Farm Bureau, who is opposing the uranium mine.
"We also feel the water quality during the mining and cleanup will be harmful to our health as well as the livestock and wildlife," Richard Vettee, a Goliad County resident who lives near the proposed site of the uranium mine
Uranium Energy attorneys contend they will make sure the ground water isn't contaminated.
"I' saying I'm very confident that we have a permit that meets all of the regulatory requirements, which includes safety requirements to protect the environment and human health and everything else," said Monica Jacobs, an attorney for Uranium Energy Corporation.
Some landowners are behind the mining company. Raymond Carter even went to Kleberg County to investigate it, himself.
"Those people aren't glowing green," said Carter, a Goliad property owner. "They're not dying of cancer, so I am not afraid of it."
But attorneys for the Goliad County disagree with Carter and those in favoring the uranium mine.
"They're going to try to prove they can contain that contamination within a narrow area," said Jim Blackburn, who is working for Goliad County. "We don't think they can. We don't think they should be given the opportunity to do that."
Next January, a trial will be held and a judge will decide if this land will become the next uranium mine in the Coastal Bend.
--Manuel De La Rosa, Area 3 News, firstname.lastname@example.org