Dr. Rebecca Leas of Rapid City provides an excellent summary of the reasons we should not allow Powertech to mine the Black Hills for uranium. One of the biggest reasons is water:

What are you willing to pay for your water? Rates are doubling and tripling as water wars rage between ranchers/farmers and those who frack for gas, oil or uranium. The farmers are losing. Ranchers have been stewards of the land for generations and now are going belly up because outsiders are coming in and stealing their water.

The Canadian company Powertech plans to mine uranium in Custer and Fall River County. They will use a minimum of 4,000 to possibly 8,000 gallons of water per minute from the Madison Aquifer. That comes to 5,760,000 to 11,520,000 gallons per day.

This could dry up water sources for the ranchers and the towns of Edgemont and Hot Springs. What are legislators and commissioners doing about water security?

Without water, the economy will wither and the profits gained by Powertech will go to Canada. I wonder why they don’t have to pay for water like we do. Why are foreign companies allowed to rob of us of our most valuable resource? [Rebecca Leas, "Permitting Uranium Mining Begins Water Wars," Rapid City Journal, 2012.11.17]

5.8 million to 11.5 million gallons of water per day. For perspective, according to 2005 water usage data from the United States Geological Survey, Fall River and Custer County together used a total of 0.94 million gallons of water a day for livestock. Domestic water usage took another 1.92 million. Custer County used 2.19 million gallons per day for irrigation; Fall River County used 14.07 million.

A foreign company proposes to use up our water, irradiate the water that's left, and gets our uranium to sell overseas. How again does any part of that plan serve South Dakota's long-term interest?

By the way, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission published for comment last Wednesday its draft environmental impact statement for Powertech's proposed Dewey-Burdock in situ uranium mining project in the southern Black Hills. The NRC concludes the "increased employment, economic activity, and tax revenues" would outweigh the "primarily regional and local... economic, environmental, and social costs."

Meanwhile, those clever Canadians at Powertech have gotten their Belgian financier Synatom to eat $7.5 million in debt by taking millions of shares of their penny stock instead of cash. Maybe they'll offer the same deal to folks in Hot Springs and Edgemont when the remnants of the aquifer start to glow. Have fun drinking those stock certificates!