Uranium miner asks for trust

Uranium miner asks for trust

Harry Anthony looked the people of Goliad County straight in their eyes and basically said, “Trust me.”

Anthony, chief operations officer of Uranium Energy Corporation, addressed about 75 people attending the afternoon session of Wednesday’s uranium educational conference in Goliad.

The two-day educational conference was organized by Uranium Information at Goliad, a citizens committee concerned with the affects of uranium mining in Goliad County.

“I’m the reason everyone is here, right?” Anthony began.

UEC began drilling test wells in the county in mid-May and last week confirmed the presence of uranium at the site.

“I want to earn your trust,” Anthony said as he concluded his 45-minute presentation on in-situ mining. “It only takes rumor and speculation, not proof, to lose that trust. I pledge to protect the environment, health and safety of Goliad County. I know that’s how I would want to be treated. I know I have a lot of work to do in this community, but that’s why I am here. That’s why I wanted to come here, right up front, right now. I didn’t sneak into town.”

Anthony recalled when he and another company representative were in Goliad in June to have a meeting with the county judge. They showed up and the meeting had evolved into a public gathering with about 45 citizens.

“I was a little overwhelmed,” Anthony said. “But I am a veteran of such things, and I tried to answer all the questions posed to me at that time.”

Anthony’s message Wednesday was clear.

“This process is environmentally friendly. There’s no surface destruction. This process has been tested and improved over the last 30 years. There has never been a public or private water well contaminated by this process. Never. It’s a safe, environmentally benign process for a strategic mineral this country needs,” Anthony emphasized.

Anthony also explained that the U.S. uses 60 million pounds of uranium each year in the nuclear energy industry, but only produces three million pounds.

“We are dependent on foreign sources for our uranium,” he said. “Right now, 19 percent of our electricity is nuclear power generated and that’s going to increase.”

Anthony cited the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District’s rules on permitting wells, and said, “the amount of water consumed while mining would require the property size of 2.5 acres, or the same as two exempt wells which are routinely granted to farmers, ranchers and rural home construction.”

Anthony also explained the extensive permitting process required of uranium mining.

“We are drilling test wells right now under a Texas Railroad Commission permit,” he said. “But it will take the company four or five years to get all these permits. Right now, we are performing a historical survey to make sure there are no historical artifacts of any significance. That’s required by the Texas Historical Commission.”

Anthony made another promise, this one to landowners near the mining site.

“The state requires us to establish a water quality baseline 1/4 mile around the drilling site. I will take it out to 1 kilometer, about .66 miles, to take baseline samples of water wells, if y’all will let me. I’ll share the baseline information with the property owners, and I will provide that service so that you won’t have to spend your money. These tests are about $400 each. I pledge to you, I will work with the citizens within 1 kilometer of the mining site.”

Anthony also touted the economic impact the mining would have.

“We will create about 80 local jobs. We’ll pay county and school district taxes,” he said. “We’ll buy gasoline, plumbing and electrical supplies, tires. We’ll need auto repair.”

Following his presentation, Anthony answered questions from the audience.

“I am battle-tested. I have an obligation to be part of this educational process,” he said.

Anthony’s remarks were among those made by six additional speakers representing real estate, the South Texas Water Authority, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, and the GCGCD. Two professional hydrologists also made presentations.

Some of the morning’s speakers noted problems in Kingsville with Uranium Resources, Inc., a company Anthony helped found, but left in 1997.

“I have lived in Kingsville 30 years, and have a ranch one mile from the uranium well fields,” explained Anthony. “I wouldn’t jeopardize my family if I thought it was hazardous.”

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