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Powertech Acquires TVA Data on Dewey-Burdock Site, Refuses to Share

With the Nuclear Regulatory Commission coming to the Black Hills next week to hear public comment and consider evidence in the challenge to Powertech/Azarga's application for in-situ leach uranium mining in Fall River and Custer counties, Powertech watchdog Jim Woodward comes up with a couple of curious new developments:

  1. Back in May, Powertech bought some Tennessee Valley Authority data on over 4,000 boreholes and three aquifer pump tests that the TVA conducted in the Dewey-Burdock mining area in the 1970s and 1980s. Boreholes—i.e., paths through which water and pollution from in-situ leach mining could leak.
  2. That data could have some bearing on the contention of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and other official intervenors in the mining permit process that the final environmental impact statement on Powertech's proposal (completed before Powertech got that TVA data) lacks sufficient hydrogeological data on the impact ISL mining could have on the area. The data may also offer more perspective on more serious natural leakage at the site.
  3. The NRC told Powertech to show the tribe that data; Powertech is resisting that order, saying the TVA data is (in Woodward's words) "irrelevant to the evidentiary hearing."
  4. Even if the data is irrelevant, by balking at releasing the data up to this point, Powertech makes it difficult for opponents to see for themselves and study the data in time to effectively comment on it at the August 18 NRC hearing.
  5. And in business new that John Tsitrian will find interesting, Azarga was supposed to complete its reverse-takeover of Powertech by July 31. Azarga and Powertech have not completed that maneuver; instead they have extended the acquisition deadline to September 15.

Powertech uranium mining proposal, as well as its business arrangements with Azarga, are complicated. The public deserves as much data as possible to understand the risks and benefits. Powertech, help us out: let us see the TVA data.


  1. John Tsitrian 2014.08.13

    Get these people out of South Dakota.

  2. Nick Nemec 2014.08.13

    In what world does Powertech, or any other party to a hearing, get to decide what information is relevant in a permit hearing? It would seem the agency holding the hearing and potentially granting the permit would have the authority to decide what is relevant to their decision.

  3. Cranky Old Dude 2014.08.13

    Maybe, just maybe...they're not really as concerned about the opposition seeing the information as they are about it being "out there" and available to potential marks...err, investors.

  4. Donald Pay 2014.08.14

    I don't know how that data wouldn't be relevant. You've got 4,000 boreholes through what is supposed to be a confining layer.

    Back in the 70s and early 80s these boreholes were abandoned without regulations, or, later in that time frame, with inadequate regulation and very little oversight. I remember a hearing in which the South Dakota borehole inspector testified about how he inspected the holes. He indicated that at most he inspected 10 percent of the holes to see if they had a cement cap. There was no indication that there was any inspection as to how deep the cement went. It was a real joke.

    So, what you've got there are 4,000 holes that are breaching the upper (and maybe the lower) "impermeable layers." Those holes were inadequately abandoned, allowing, if enough pressure is provided, for the uranium and other mobilized minerals from escaping the confining layer and pushed up and out of the abandoned boreholes.

    There are certainly a lot of questions about the boreholes that must be answered.

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