Dang—our most off-topic commenter is right: Powertech/Azarga still wants to slurp up our water to squirt uranium out of the Black Hills. After receiving Underground Injection Control Permits and a Safe Drinking Water Act exemption from that shouting loser’s Environmental Predation Agency last November, the notably unproductive foreign company is now resuming its quest for water permits from the state of South Dakota. Azarga wants to draw 888.8 acre-feet of water a year from the Inyan Kara Group and 274.2 acre-feet of water a year from the Madison Aquifer to force uranium out of the sandstone in the Dewey-Burdock area of northwestern Fall River County and southwestern Custer County. That’s 379 million gallons of water a year, or 1.04 million gallons a day, equal to the average water usage of over 11,100 South Dakotans, or 70% of the residents of the two counties where the mine would operate.
In the original reports on the permit applications filed in November 2012, natural resources engineer Ken Buhler said that the maximum amounts of water Powertech wants to draw from both formations are well below the long-term average net surplus of aquifer recharge over withdrawals and that the aquifers could withstand several years of maximum withdrawal by Powertech even amidst sustained drought. Buhler concluded that “this appropriation can be made without adversely impacting existing water rights including domestic users.”
Azarga hopes to distill 14.3 million pounds of triuranium octoxide from the southern Hills over 16 years. After a decade of low prices following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, the uranium market is regaining its glow. President Joe Biden’s super-duper infrastructure plan includes renewed investment in nuclear power to reduce both carbon emissions and Republican opposition to the plan. Last week, the State Department announced it is spending $5.3 million to help other countries develop small modular nuclear reactors to “address the climate crisis, spur innovation, conserve our environment, build resilience, and drive growth for communities in a safe and secure manner.” China and Europe are also giving Azarga and other miners hope for higher profits.
The Water Management Board holds its status conference on Powertech/Azarga on Wednesday, May 5. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m., but the agenda lists several other items first. Interested parties may participate remotely via phone or Internet.