Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2013
RAPID CITY, South Dakota — With just one “no” vote, the Rapid City Council passed a resolution “expressing grave concern” over uranium mining in South Dakota’s Black Hills, an area near Edgemont held sacred by the Great Sioux Nation. Concerned citizens flooded the council chambers August 14 after learning that the mayor and three council members met privately with employees of Canadian mining company Powertech.
Protecting the water supply topped the list of concerns for residents. Radioactive and heavy metal contamination from such mining would poison the land for eons — uranium’s half-life is 4.4 billion years. If the mine becomes operational, up to 9,000 gallons of water from the Madison and Inyan Kara Aquifer — which supplies Rapid City — would be used every minute. A Powertech spokesman said that 98 percent of its waste water would be “recycled.” Mine opponents fear a dangerous boom of uranium mining in the Black Hills if the Powertech dig is allowed to proceed.
Critics also point out that Powertech influence has weakened South Dakota’s regulatory oversight of mining, claiming state rules duplicate federal safety standards. According to KOTA TV news, Powertech managers say “uranium mining is safe, and water contamination in the Black Hills would be impossible,” adding, “the aquifers go around the Black Hills.” In order to move ahead, the Powertech project still needs federal and state approval.
— Rapid City Journal, Aug. 20 & 15; KOTA News, Aug. 19, 2013