Sunday, December 1, 2013

KOTA News Extra: Uranium mining and those who oppose it

KOTA Territory News


Posted: Nov 28, 2013 12:12 AM EST
There has been much debate about whether or not a company should mine for uranium in the Black Hills. Our previous story was about those who are pro mining and how the process works. Now we hear from environmental and health experts who oppose uranium mining.

Rebecca Leas moved from Pennsylvania to the Black Hills four years ago. This health education specialist is concerned what might happen if uranium mining was to take place here.  

"I left Pennsylvania because of the extreme marcellus shale fracking where I live and the rumination of the water and actually the destruction of the economic base there," said Leas.

Leas was a health professor for thirty five years now she is involved with Clean Water Alliance and Dakota Rural Action. She says uranium mining will have a negative impact on public health and the environment.  

"Well, it starts with the three biggies. Air, soil, and water and all of those are potentially affected by uranium mining," said Leas.

Chair of the Black Hills Chapter of Dakota Rural Action, Clay Uptain says uranium mining isn't safe.  
"So we just do not feel like it's worth the risk to our water and to future generations. One thing people need to remember is that uranium mining because it involves radioactivity, it's highly dangerous," said Uptain.

Uptain said there are other options.  

Lilias Jarding is part of clean water alliance and she has a PHD in environmental policy.   
"I think uranium mining is fundamentally bad policy for the Black Hills region and I think that people need to look at this in context," said Jarding.

Jarding says she sees two main problems with uranium mining.  

"One is that both a radioactive substance, the uranium and water are always involved so we end up with water pollution wherever there is uranium mining."
She says the other problem is economic.  

"Our economy is based on agriculture and tourism and both of those would suffer if uranium mining is a common activity in the black hills," said Jarding.

While people involved with the uranium mining process say they constantly test the water to make sure it's not contaminated, Jarding feels the water will be affected.  

"What they would want to do is to cut lose uranium and heavy metals like lead and arsenic under the water. And then to try to control the pollution that they've created.

Historically when we look at this mining everywhere else that it's been done the water has not been returned to its baseline condition," said Jarding.