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NRC Board Admits Challenges to Powertech Environmental Impact Statement

The Oglala Sioux Tribe and other citizens concerned that Powertech will mess up the Black Hills with its proposed in situ uranium mining scored a tactical victory yesterday. The tribe and the "consolidated intervenors" (Susan Henderson, Dayton Hyde, and the group Aligning for Responsible Mining) had filed eighteen contentions against the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement issued by the NRC last November. Powertech argued that the DSEIS was sufficient and that the NRC should throw all of their opponents' contentions out.

Yesterday the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a 100-page ruling admitting ten of the contentions and throwing out eight. (Hey, guys! You're batting .556!) The board combined the contentions into the following points:

  • Contention 1A: Failure to Meet Applicable Legal Requirements Regarding Protection of Historical and Cultural Resources.
  • Contention 1B: Failure to Involve or Consult All Interested Tribes as Required by Federal Law.
  • Contention 2: The DSEIS Fails to Include Necessary Information for Adequate Determination of Baseline Ground Water Quality.
  • Contention 3: The DSEIS Fails to Include Adequate Hydrogeological Information to Demonstrate Ability to Contain Fluid Migration and Assess Potential Impacts to Groundwater.
  • Contention 4: The DSEIS Fails to Adequately Analyze Ground Water Quantity Impacts.
  • Contention 6: The DSEIS Fails to Adequately Describe or Analyze Proposed Mitigation Measures.
  • Contention 9: The DSEIS Fails to Consider Connected Actions.
  • Contention 14A: Whether an appropriate consultation was conducted pursuant to the Endangered Species Act and implementing regulations.
  • Contention 14B: Whether the DSEIS’s impact analyses relevant to the greater sage grouse, the whooping crane, and the black-footed ferret are sufficient [Judges Froelich, Cole, and Barnett, "Ruling on Proposed Contentions Related to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement," In the Matter of Powertech USA, Inc., Docket No. 40-9075-MLA, ASLBP No. 10-898-02-MLA-BD01, 2013.07.22].

Opponents of uranium mining in the Black Hills can now challenge the NRC's draft environmental impact statement on each of these contentions in further litigation. They haven't won the fight, but they have won more ground on which to fight the fight.


  1. Robin Page 2013.07.23

    AWESOME! One battle won! A step forward in protecting our drinking water and the beauty of the Black Hills and it's creatures!

  2. Donald Pay 2013.07.23

    This could be fatal to Powertech. The hydrogeological data the NRC needs to adequately address the groundwater issues (Contentions 3-6) are collected by Powertech consultants, who have to be paid now to collect more data and provide more analyses. Powertech has very limited cash resources and probably can't pay for the necessary studies. Consultants would be taking immense risk by fronting the costs of these studies in hopes that Powertech can stay afloat long enough to either find a sucker to invest in this turkey or to sell off its property to a larger company.

    Also, it will be difficult now for SD Boards to justify issuing state permits to Powertech. It will look extremely bad if they go ahead and issue permits when there is a finding like this on hydrogeological data.

  3. Adam McLean 2013.07.23

    I love it.

  4. Les 2013.07.24

    Very good first step in stopping the transfer of our water rights to a foreign corp as the ugly duckling morphs into an international sale with an approval.
    Such is the case with Deadwood Standard who will open the other side of the mountain to Wharf or another on approval with no restraints based on promises 10 years out.

  5. Jennifer and Bill Fuller 2013.07.24

    Keep up the good fight! Protect the Black Hills!

  6. Todd Benson 2013.07.26

    That is great all your efforts have paid off I am so excited that all your hard work will make an impact and difference in the future of the Black Hills.

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