Uranium drilling to continue

Uranium drilling to continue

A state judge denied a request by two environmental groups to temporarily stop test drilling for uranium in Fall River County.

Circuit Judge Jack Delaney said at a hearing Tuesday that the groups had not shown how continuing the exploration would harm the environment.

Defenders of the Black Hills and ACTion for the Environment are challenging a state exploration permit that allows Powertech Uranium Corp. to drill 155 exploration holes north of Edgemont.

They asked Delaney to order a temporary stay, halting exploration during the appeal process.

Attorney Cindy Gillis, representing the environmental groups, argued that without the temporary stay, the exploration would be complete before the appeal could be heard.

“By allowing Powertech to continue to drill, the issue becomes moot,” she said.

About 40 exploration holes already have been drilled, according to Powertech project manager Mark Hollenbeck.

Now, Gillis and her clients have until June 29 to submit written documents supporting their appeal. Then, Powertech and the state of South Dakota have 30 days to respond.

The environmental groups argue that the state Board of Minerals and Environment failed to consider their written objections to the exploration permit and failed to properly notify them of the decision.

“Everything has been botched from the beginning,” Gillis said.

Uranium was mined north of Edgemont from the 1950s to the early 1980s. A renewed interest in nuclear power and a spike in uranium prices have sparked a new uranium boom.

After exploration, Powertech would need a mining permit from South Dakota, another permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and approval of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Information from: www.casperstartribune.net

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