All cost, no benefit - EPA proposes onerous 33 year monitoring requirement for ISR mining 1


  1. “It acknowledges that the aquifers the rule is supposed to protect are not currently used as sources for drinking water or irrigation, that they are located in remote areas where there are few, if any people, and that they are often difficult to access.”

    But because some of those areas are close to Telluride CO, there’s a lot of money behind making sure no mining activity can ever “spoil” the landscape. (scroll down to Prince Albert Mine).

    The same thing happened in Pitkin county (Aspen), when the BLM began the process of opening up the Thompson Divide area to gas well drilling. The local residents quickly created an opposition group and got so many restrictions in place that I think they just gave up.

    The uranium industry around southwestern Colorado and Utah is the subject of a “documentary” I’m sure many of you have heard of, Uranium Drive-in. An extremely wealthy minority in the state is doing whatever they can to protect their land values (under the dubious assumption that large vehicles and activity will affect prices), at the expense of the working poor, under the guise of protecting the environment from certain peril.

  2. Here’s a Wikepedia link for this type of mining:

    Another link on heap leaching:

    This one notes that there have been environmental problems in the past with mining uranium in this manner. Three examples are given, ” The Rum Jungle Mine”, “The Ranger Uranium Mine,: and “Fort Belknap.”

    Some communities such as Leadville, Colorado have faced difficulties due to heavy metals from former mining operations entering the water supply. My grandfathers were both miners. We need mining. We do not need our environment destroyed in the process. Places like Butte, Anaconda and Sudbury give examples of what may go wrong without environmental protection.

    Have the fears of past mistakes prompted an overreaction to over-regulate mining operations? Using Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) to dissolve Uranium Oxides doesn’t sound too frightening. It seems much more safe than cysnaide used for other metals. I have to agree with the bureaucrats though that just because the water is already bad is not an adequate reason to make it worse.

  3. Sounds like someone in the EPA has misinterpreted Aldo Leopold’s land ethic to apply to naturally contaminated aquifers. ;-). The key is for EPA to apply the same yardstick to all the energy forms. Do the coal, oil, and gas industries have to follow rules extracting their minerals that convey similar magnitudes of risk? If not, why is it acceptable to challenge the environment and public health on a higher scale with fossil fuels than nuclear? Yes there are uncertainties in measuring and evaluating risk, but we must resist the default “it’s nuclear” when assigning regulatory changes.

    1. I fully agree with you Robert. If these rules are made to stick for Uranium mining, but similar rules are not applied for fracking and other means of extracting hydrocarbons or coal……..then there is clearly a bias.

      Additionally, the complete lack of attempting to quantify the number of hypothetical cancers (likely zero even with a full LNT plus collective dose methodology) avoided is a failure of this proposed regulation.

  4. “Does anyone know what the post restoration requirements are for oil and gas wells? Do they even have to restore the site before they pull chocks? (Sorry, that’s a bit of Navy slang for “depart.”)”

    Leach mines are like 200 meters deep, many shale oil wells are over 3200 meters.

    Aquifers tend to be between those two depths.

    So shale oil wells just have to make sure the casement in the borehole section that could leak into the aquifer are well built during the initial frack and pumping. After the well is abandoned, it doesn’t matter. There’s no risk.

    Link for shale oil well depths:

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