South Texas Uranium News
Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI) Slows Texas Operations
The January 4, 2009, edition of the Kingsville Record and Bishop News included in its "Top 10 Stories of 2008" a report that URI is dropping plans for near future additional uranium exploration and mining activities in Kleberg County. URI’s press release of December 19, 2008, indicated that the same is true for the Vasquez and Rosita mine areas in Duval County.
The Kingsville newspaper’s report states, "URI, once a driving force in the local economy, has all but shut down completely with water restoration the only work on its agenda."
Whether or not post-mining groundwater restoration will occur is questionable. South Texas Opposes Pollution (STOP) members have claimed that in situ uranium mining companies have consistently failed to restore groundwater to the quality agreed to when granted permits to mine by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
Documentation of STOP’s claims is found in hydrogeologist Dr. Bruce Darling’s study titled "Report on Findings Related to the Restoration of In Situ Mines in South Texas." A link to this report can be found on ALTURA’s website at: http://www.uraniuminfo.org
Television news coverage of the URI slowdown was given by KIIITV’s Manuel De La Rosa on January 27, 2009. For a video of his report, click on: http://www.kiiitv.com/news/area3news/38501189.html . STOP member and Coastal Bend Sierran Dr. Mark Walsh is interviewed in this video.
The latest edition of Lone Star Sierra’s publication State Capitol Report includes a story with pictures on the status of uranium exploration and mining in the Coastal Bend area. To find this publication on-line, go to Lone Star Sierra’s homepage.
Submitted by Venice Scheurich and Mina Williams on January 30, 2009
Submitted by V. Scheurich and M. Williams, 12/01/08
Bee County Officials Reject Uranium Miners’ Request
On November 24, 2008, the Bee County Commissioners’ Court voted against adopting a resolution endorsing uranium mining in Bee County. This action was taken even though executives of Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) and Signal Equities had previously shown a film on the in situ mining process to commissioners and requested that they officially support uranium mining in their county.
The commissioners understood that the mining company executives intended to use the Courts’ endorsement to help persuade state legislators to dismiss opposition to uranium mining in Texas.
However, Bee County Health Department Director Dennis DeWitt, after extensive research on the long-term effects of in situ uranium mining—especially on groundwater-- advised commissioners not to grant the resolution requested by the miners.
DeWitt’s written memorandum to the Court was obtained by the Beeville Bee-Picayune through the Texas Public Information Act. In part, DeWitt’s statement said, “The Bee County Commissioners’ Court is the gatekeeper for air, water and ground as well as all people, flora and fauna of the county. As gatekeeper, the court is primarily responsible for health and safety first before all else. We must think in terms of decades and centuries, not simply years. We must realize that decisions we make today may impact present and future generations of Bee County residents for hundreds of years.”
After also hearing from other interested parties, the commissioners concluded that they would not provide political coverage for the mining companies as the next legislature convenes in January.
Corpus Christi KIIITV 3’s reporter Manuel De La Rosa covered the meeting and interviewed Dennis DeWitt, some Bee County property owners, and County Commissioner Susan Stasny. His story aired on that channel’s 10:00 pm newscast on November 24. To watch the video, click on:
To read more on the Bee County deliberations which led to the Commissioner Courts’ decision, refer to coverage in the Beeville Bee-Picayune.
Submitted by V. Scheurich and M. Williams, 11/13/08
URANIUM: DOES THE BENEFIT OUTWEIGH THE RISK?
reporter Tara Bozick’s stories on pros and cons of
uranium mining, based largely on experiences in Kleberg County over the past 20
years, ran on the Advocate’s front page on Monday, November 3rd. Sierra Club member and South Texas Opposes
Pollution (STOP) director Elizabeth Cumberland is featured in the stories. The second story also quotes Ann Ewing,
president of STOP, whose family owns land on Garcia Hill in Kleberg County. To
read these reports, click on:
KIII TV NEWS RUNS TWO PART FEATURE ON URANIUM MINING AND GROUNDWATER
KIII TV reporter Manuel De la Rosa prepared a special two part feature story on uranium mining and its effect on groundwater quality in the Garcia Hill area of Kleberg County. The reports ran during the station’s 10:00 pm news casts on November 10 and 11, 2008.
Coastal Bend Sierra Club member and South Texas Opposes Pollution (STOP) treasurer Dr. Mark Walsh and STOP president Ann Ewing were both interviewed. Also interviewed were Mark Pelizza of Uranium Resources, Inc., State Representative Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles, and Garcia Hill resident Humberto Garcia.
To read the text and
watch videos of these KIII Channel 3 reports, click on:
http://www.kiiitv.com/news/area3news/34281789.html and http://www.kiiitv.com/news/area3news/34332314.html
On October 8, 2008, Texas local officials, business people, landowners, scientists, teachers, and conservation group representatives met at the State Capitol to announce the formation of the Alliance of Texans for Uranium Research and Action (ALTURA). To view related videos, click on: http://www.uraniuminfo.org/
The Alliance released a study showing the history of groundwater contamination by the uranium mining industry in Texas and called for a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining in drinking water aquifers in the state.
The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club is working on the uranium mining issue in coordination with ALTURA. Our Coastal Bend Sierra Group is also involved since almost all of the Texas in situ leach uranium mining activity is in counties within the Coastal Bend area.
To read a full account of ALTURA’s launch event and the study by hydrogeologist/geochemist Dr. Bruce K. Darling titled "Report on Findings Related to the Restoration of In Situ Mines in South Texas," click on: http://www.texas.sierraclub.org/press/scr/scr20081016.pdf
Also, to view ALTURA’s impressive new website, Google "ALTURA uranium."
Submitted by Venice Scheurich and Mina Williams
Texas Regulations Do Not Protect Groundwater from Uranium Mining Contamination
At their meeting on September 22, 2008, Goliad County Commissioners were alerted by their attorney, Jim Blackburn, that they need to be concerned about the quality of the county’s water after uranium mining takes place. Blackburn’s firm has looked at uranium mining permits issued by the state over the past 20 to 30 years. Records on file at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) reveal that 51 requests from companies at 80 uranium mining sites have been granted for amended restoration values. These amended values allowed companies to leave groundwater with higher levels of several contaminants than the companies had agreed to when obtaining their permits to mine.
To read more on this disturbing practice, go to Sonny Long’s report in the September 23, 2008, issue of the Victoria Advocate at: http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/goliad_county/story/323434.html.
Submitted by Venice Scheurich & Mina Williams
TOXIC WATER AND IN-SITU URANIUM MINING
The Coastal Bend Sierra Club (CBSC) and South Texas Opposes Pollution (STOP) co-sponsored a workshop in Kingsville on Saturday, May 17, 2008. The presenter was Dr. Richard Abitz, a geochemist with many years of experience working with environmental problems associated with radioactive waste, including remediation of groundwater contaminated with uranium and its decay products and with the assessment of health risk from exposure to toxic substances. A summary of proceedings for this event was written by Dr. Mark Walsh, STOP Treasurer. This informative report was published in the Kingsville Record and in the Rio Grande Guardian. To read it, go to:
Submitted by: Venice Scheurich & Mina Williams
June 3, 2008
State Regulatory Agencies Fail to Protect South Texans From Uranium Mining
Given that the price of uranium has surged in the past two years, interest by companies to lease, explore, and mine in South Texas is also surging. Officials in Kleberg County, where in situ uranium mining began in the 1980’s, and in Goliad County, where exploration activity is occurring and a permit for mining has been applied for, are struggling to inform their citizens about mining techniques and possible harmful effects on groundwater.
Residents in these areas are responding by attending meetings and forming advisory committees. Journalists in Kingsville, Goliad, Victoria, and Corpus Christi are writing and publishing articles about concerns of citizens and county officials over poor legislation and regulation at the state level which allow companies to continue exploring and mining even when agreements to restore groundwater are not kept.
Dan Kelley, investigative reporter for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, has written an excellent series in that newspaper clearly describing how state law does not require the Texas Railroad Commission or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to protect Texas groundwater from unsafe mining activities. To read this fascinating and informative series, click on:
Additional articles documenting problems with uranium exploration and mining can be found quickly on the websites of the Kingsville Record and the Victoria Advocate by using their search windows.
April 7, 2008
Uranium Controversy Intensifies in Texas
On Sunday, March 30, 2008, the Austin American-Statesman ran a detailed report on the current status of the uranium mining controversy in South Texas. The story was written by Robert Elder and features a map and several illustrations—including one of an exploration borehole which landowners claim was not properly plugged, therefore allowing contaminants to enter the aquifer.
To read this informative
account, click on:
PUBLIC MEETING HOSTED BY TCEQ ON UEC’S REQUEST TO MINE URANIUM IN GOLIAD COUNTY
On January 24, 2008, hundreds of concerned citizens packed the meeting hall in Goliad to question, comment, and learn about the application of Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) to mine uranium in Goliad County. About fifty people signed up to speak at the meeting which was hosted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Of these speakers, only two supported UEC’s permit application request. Lone Star Communications Coordinator, Donna Hoffman, voiced concerns about the granting of the permit, as did Pat Suter, Chairperson of Coastal Bend Sierra. Other Sierrans also spoke or handed in written comments expressing their concerns. To read more about the meeting, click on: http://texas.sierraclub.org/press/newsreleases/20080124.asp
INVESTIGATIVE REPORT ON GOLIAD URANIUM ACTIVITY 10/03/07
On Wednesday, October 3, 2007, investigative reporter Greg Harman filed a comprehensive account in the San Antonio Current of the struggle that Goliad County officials and citizens are mounting to forestall uranium mining, which they believe has the potential to contaminate the Gulf Coast Aquifer.
Harman also details some of the history of uranium mining in other south Texas counties. His report can be found at: http://www.sacurrent.com/util/printready.asp?id=67503
GOLIAD URANIUM MINING OPPOSITION STRENGTHENS
by Art Dohmann
On September 26, 2007, Goliad County officials and citizens held a press conference near the site where Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) has done extensive exploratory drilling and where UEC hopes to start mining if they are granted a permit by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
During the press conference, Art Dohmann, President of the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District (GCGCD) and Chair of the Commissioners’ Court Uranium Research and Advisory Committee (URAC), delivered the following comments explaining why Goliad County opposes UEC’s request for the mining permit from TCEQ. "Groundwater is the lifeblood for Goliad County and it is vital that we protect it.For the past nine months, we have conducted research and participated in a number of well-attended conferences to inform landowners, and other concerned citizens and stakeholders.
In May of 2006, UEC commenced drilling of exploration boreholes under permit number 123 in the north-northeast part of Goliad County between 15 mile and 18 mile Coleto Creeks. This activity was begun at the east end of the permit area and progressed to the west with increased drilling occurring from November 2006 until April of 2007. Drilling was significantly curtailed during the May-July 2007 time period while surface violations were being remediated.
In November and December of 2006, GCGCD conducted the first water baseline testing of 18 user wells around the exploration area. The results of these tests showed good water in 15 wells and high radionuclides in 3 wells which are located downdip to the exploration.
In April 2007, GCGCD was advised by five landowners updip of the exploration area that they were experiencing filter plugging and dirty water with their domestic use wells. Their wells have been in service for many years and these landowners have not experienced this problem previously. GCGCD retested these wells in April 2007, and found significant changes in mineral and iron content in four of the wells. The fifth well was experiencing only a red coloration in the fixtures and had no identified quality changes.
The Railroad Commission of Texas was provided detailed information of this condition but made no investigation and concluded that it was possibly due to a change from drought conditions to wet conditions. This area has experienced many drought and wet cycles in the past and has not observed this dirty water condition previously.
Beginning in December 2006, and continuing until June 2007, UEC has completed 20 monitor wells within the exploration area. These monitor wells were drilled after the boreholes were drilled and these monitor wells are very close to the boreholes, in some cases within 20 feet. Baseline water samples from these wells all show elevated levels of Radium 226, well above allowable levels for drinking water. The highest reading is 300 times the allowable.The quality of this water can not be considered pre-exploration quality when it is drawn after all of the boreholes were drilled which disturbed the aquifer.This procedure strongly suggests that better regulations are required to protect the environment and natural resources of the State of Texas.
To give you an idea of the importance of water to Goliad County, there are over 4,000 water wells that serve the domestic, livestock, and business needs for the County. Without this supply of good quality groundwater, Goliad County would suffer a major catastrophe. Looking to the future, 100-120 new service wells are drilled each year to supply a steady growth spearheaded by an urban movement towards the pristine natural beauty and quality of life offered by Goliad County. Goliad County groundwater is supplied by the Gulf Coast Aquifer with the principal aquifer segments being the Evangeline and the Chicot. The Evangeline Aquifer is at the surface for approximately 2/3 of the northern part of the county and is overlaid by the Chicot Aquifer in the southern end of the county. The Gulf Coast Aquifer consists of interbedded sands and clays and is considered a non-confined aquifer. These underground geological formations through which water flows are not appropriate for in-situ uranium mining. It is simply not possible to do in a safe manner.
The north end of the county is the recharge zone for much of the water used in the county. The flow of the aquifer is to the southeast and it slopes at an average rate of 90 feet in the north of the county with a gradual flattening to 30 feet in the south of the county. Faulting can alter the normal flow of the aquifer to a lateral flow and also to a vertical flow. The uranium ore was deposited in the water sands of the Evangeline Aquifer millions of years ago. These uranium deposits are stable until dissolved by oxygenated water injection or by being disturbed mechanically.
After careful evaluation of:
the unconfined and sloping features of the Gulf Coast Aquifer;
the Railroad Commission of Texas reports on permit number 123 site reclamation and gamma radiation results;
the results of the model prepared by Daniel B. Stephens and Associates;
the sudden deterioration of water quality;
and other issues—
URAC’s assessment is that ‘in our judgment in-situ leach mining could not be done safely in Goliad County.’Groundwater is the lifeblood for Goliad County. It is vital that we protect it. There are many negative factors associated with borehole exploration and ISL uranium mining and our concern is the impact on groundwater.
By notice issued August 29, 2007, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) notified property owners adjacent to the exploration permit number 123 area that Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) had applied an application to obtain a new Underground Injection Control Permit proposing to conduct in-situ recovery of uranium at their facility in Goliad County. On September 6, 2007, a contested case hearing on behalf of Goliad County Commissioners’ Court, Goliad, Texas, was requested by legal counsel."
08/17/07 GOLIAD COUNTY TO CONTEST PERMIT FOR URANIUM MINING
The following report is excerpted from the August 15, 2007, edition of The Texan Express, Goliad’s Hometown Newspaper.
The Goliad County Research and Advisory Committee (URAC) is charged with protecting and preserving the quality of the environment and the groundwater supply in Goliad County. URAC advises the Goliad County Commissioners’ Court on actions and decisions to be made by the Commissioners’ Court in regard to the potential mining of uranium in Goliad County.
For the past eight months, URAC has carefully evaluated data and activities associated with uranium exploration conducted under Railroad Commission of Texas Permit Number 123 and the potential application and approval of a mining permit under the jurisdiction of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
At a special meeting of URAC on Tuesday, July 31, 2007, the nine members present of a ten member committee voted unanimously that, in their judgment, in-situ leach mining could not be done safely in Goliad County. This assessment was the result of many inputs, including:
· March 27, 2007, inspection report of the Railroad Commission of Texas on exploration permit number 123 site, which focused on assessing the borehole site reclamation. This report included a citation for numerous plugging and surface reclamation deficiencies.
· May 9, 2007, gamma radiation survey report of the Railroad Commission of Texas on exploration permit number 123 site, confirming some elevated gamma radiation-level observations in the disturbed borehole drilling areas.
· May 30, 2007 (updated June 1, June 26 and July 5, 2007) report from the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District (GCGCD) regarding groundwater quality, which tracked five water wells with dirty water and water-level changes up dip of extensive exploration borehole drilling under permit number 123.
· The Daniel B. Stephens and Associates report dated June 25, 2007, titled "Evaluation of Potential Impacts Related to Proposed Uranium Mining in Goliad County, Texas." This report noted a number of potential problems of groundwater contamination and reduction of supply.
· Studies of the requirements of ISL uranium mining requiring a confined aquifer. The Gulf Coast Aquifer in Goliad County is not a confined aquifer.
· Historic data from past ISL uranium mining operations.
· Goliad County residents’ testimony.
URAC maintains that, while there are many negative factors associated with borehole exploration and ISL uranium, the major issue is the impact on groundwater. The Committee recognizes that the Gulf Coast Aquifer in Goliad County does not meet the requirements for ISL uranium mining. The aquifer slope of 20-40 feet per mile, the hydraulic gradient of five feet per mile, and the aquifer’s being non-confined are all major factors.
During borehole exploration, the water sands that supply water required in the area for domestic and livestock use, are penetrated many times. Residents living in the area of concentrated borehole drilling under permit number 123 have experienced disrupted and contaminated water supplies. Dirty water, even though it may not be contaminated with radio nuclides, is not tolerable.
Goliad County Commissioners and URAC wish to release this statement. URAC intends to contact the Railroad Commission of Texas, the Texas Commission on Environment Quality, and the Texas Department of Health, providing them with this press release and a letter of explanation.URAC recommends that the Commissioners’ Court allocate funds in the budget to provide the necessary funding for a contested case hearing before TCEQ in opposition to permits allowing uranium mining in Goliad County.
The Court approved
funding for a contested case hearing on the UEC permit [on August 13, 2007].
Hundreds of Uranium Exploration Violations in Goliad County
Hundreds of violations by Uranium Energy Corporation were found when the Texas Railroad Commission followed up on a complaint filed by Blackburn/Carter representing Goliad County. The complaint filed February 6, 2007 alleged that Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) was not disposing drill fluids and potentially harmful cuttings in accordance with the approved UEC Permit 123. The complaint also alleged that UEC’s activities were adversely impacting the area ground water resources.
Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) met with UEC representatives prior to the inspection on March 7, 2007. Joining TRC and UEC were representatives from Goliad County and a hydrologist. TRC collected soil samples, shot photos, and inspected borehole sites and adjoining areas during their three day inspection of the surface areas in UEC Permit 123.
UEC in Section IV A stated their company would backfill to above grade to allow for settling of soil. This prevents the formation of pits or depressions in pasturelands. Eleven of the one-hundred and seventeen mud pits were in violation.
Marking boreholes was almost non existent. Only six of 117 boreholes could be found. TRC used 3 different systems trying to locate the boreholes. The only way that the Railroad Commission could find these holes was by looking for evidence of a borehole. Section IV B of Permit 123 stated UEC would mark each borehole, so that the Railroad Commission could locate these.
When TRC issued the permit, it stated that each borehole drilled in the project was to have a ten-foot surface plug located three feet below the surface. Only 14 of the 117 boreholes could be verified to have a surface plug. Of the fourteen found, five were found open to the surface with a cement plug greater than 20 feet below the surface. The rest of the plugs were found between 0 and 18 inches below the surface.
Also in violation were mud pits. UEC stated they would allow these to dry before backfilling with subsoil and cuttings. TRC saw these pits being filled quickly. This causes drilling fluids to remain on top of the soil. This reclamation failure was also found at several older drill holes.
Town hall meetings are being scheduled in Goliad to give updates on uranium mining. Citizens will be given time to ask questions and provide input. Town hall meetings are scheduled as:
April 10 (Tues) - 7:00 p.m - Weesatche Community Center
April 11 (Wed) - 7:00 p.m. - Ander-Weser Volunteer Fire Department on FM 1961
April 12 (Thur) - 7:00 p.m. - Immaculate Conception Parish Hall - 225 N. Commercial St., Goliad
For additional information, call Margaret A. Rutherford at 361-645-2083 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret A. Rutherford
President of Uranium Information at Goliad (UIAG)
P.O. Box 993 Goliad, TX 77963
02/07/07 Resurgence of Uranium Mining in South Texas
Given that the price of uranium has increased from $7 to $75 per pound in a very short time, interest in exploration in Goliad County and mining in Kleberg County is surging. Officials in both counties are struggling to inform their citizens about mining techniques and possible harmful effects on groundwater.
Residents in both counties are responding by attending meetings and forming advisory committees. Journalists in Kingsville, Goliad, Corpus Christi, and Victoria are researching, writing, and publishing articles concerning both the history and resurgence of uranium mining in South Texas. Commissioners’ Courts are contemplating what actions to take to best protect their counties’ groundwater and other resources.
The purpose of this new link on the Coastal Bend Sierra Club’s home page is to provide news and hyperlinks for information on uranium activity in South Texas.
The Goliad County Extension Agency has a comprehensive web site which catalogues activity in the Goliad region by Uranium Exploration Corporation (UEC) during the fall of 2006. To access this site, go to: http://goliad-tx.tamu.edu/. Also, Sonny Long, of the Victoria Advocate, has written extensively on uranium activity in Goliad County and continues to cover the matter for that newspaper. Consult the Advocate’s archives.
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times has published at least four articles since November 2006 by Dan Kelley on uranium mining in Kleberg County. To access these, search the Caller’s archives for his articles of November 5 and November 6, 2006, and February 6 and February 7, 2007.
February 7, 2007