Water Problems with Uranium Mining and Milling/ Mining / Fracking


Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the East Coast Mesozoic Basins of the Piedmont, Blue Ridge Thrust Belt, Atlantic Coastal Plain, and New England Provinces, 2011



U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated a mean undiscovered natural gas resource of 3,860 billion cubic feet and a mean undiscovered natural gas liquids resource of 135 million barrels in continuous accumulations within five of the East Coast Mesozoic basins (fig. 1; table 1): the Deep River, Dan River-Danville, and Richmond basins, which are within the Piedmont Province of North Carolina and Virginia; the Taylorsville basin, which is almost entirely within the Atlantic Coastal Plain Province of Virginia


Fracking Limits for Virginia Forest Spark Debate on Water

A proposal to restrict natural gas production in a Virginia national forest has become a flashpoint in the debate over whether drilling endangers water -- in this case water used by millions of people in the Washington region.
Managers of the water supply for the nation’s capital and suburban Virginia are pushing the U.S. Forest Service to limit hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the George Washington National Forest, the largest national forest east of the Mississippi and home to headwaters of the Potomac and James rivers.
“We still don’t have the science to inform the decision,” Jeanne Bailey, a spokeswoman for Fairfax Water, which serves 1.7 million customers in Virginia and has an intake on the Potomac, said. Regulators should “wait on the research to make the decision” to open the forest to drilling, she said.
The Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, proposed drilling limits in 2011, and now is reconsidering after gas companies said it was unwarranted and would set a bad precedent. A decision is expected later this year and if the service sticks to its initial proposal it would be the first time horizontal drilling into underground shale deposits had been banned in a national forest.

Fracking Surge

A surge in fracking in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia has created a financial windfall for some communities and pushed down natural gas prices. It also has drawn complaints from homeowners who say their water has been contaminated. Industry groups say evidence has failed to establish that water contamination is tied to fracking.
Under the Forest Service proposal, fracking itself, in which water, sand and chemicals are shot underground to free trapped gas, would not be banned. Horizontal drilling would be, though, effectively prohibiting the most effective way to extract gas from the Marcellus shale that runs under part of the forest.
Drillers could still use vertical wells, though they are less effective with shale. Private owners of mineral rights in the forest could still lease to drillers for horizontal drilling and fracking.
The George Washington National Forest, a portion of which is is West Virginia, is one of the most heavily visited because it’s within a few hours drive of millions of residents. The headwaters within it contribute to the drinking water of at least 30 communities from Washington to Richmond, Virginia, according to the Forest Service.

Army Corps

That drew support for the ban from the Washington Aqueduct, a part of the Army Corps of Engineers which supplies water to people in the capital and Arlington and Falls Church, Virginia.
Enough study “has been done and information has been published to give us great cause of concern about the potential for degradation of the quality of our raw water supply as well as impact to the quantity of supply,” Thomas Jacobus, general manager of the Washington Aqueduct, wrote in comments filed with the Forest Service in support of the ban.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service also support a prohibition on horizontal drilling.
Drillers say it would set a bad precedent for development in the Marcellus shale, the gas-rich formation that stretches under Eastern states including parts of Virginia.

Prevent Development

“We saw it as an effort to prevent the development of the shale resource,” Lee Fuller, vice president for government relations at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said in an interview. “If you would adopt this premise as a matter of policy across the country, it would take significant opportunities” off the table, he said.
In many Western states, where the federal government is a major landholder, gas and oil production is booming. The 92,000 wells on public lands account for about 13 percent of U.S. natural-gas production and 5 percent of oil production.
Companies such as Halliburton Co. (HAL) and Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) say that a ban on fracking is misguided. In response, the forest’s management is rethinking its plan, which has been delayed for months.
“What we spent a lot of time on is to see if we could establish some controls and still allow horizontal drilling,” Ken Landgraf, the local planning staff officer for the forest service, said in an interview, referring to the review of comments in response to the ban proposal. The staff is looking at restrictions on areas that would be open to drilling and safety procedures that could be mandated, he said.

Public Comments

Neighboring communities and other federal officials have joined in urging the forest service not ease off. Of the 53,000 comments submitted, 95 percent support a ban, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center, which reviewed the public files.
“The George Washington National Forest is not appropriate for gas development, and all the impacts that come with that,” Sarah Francisco, a lawyer for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in an interview. Given its proximity to Washington and other metropolitan areas and its important fishing and hiking opportunities, “it’s really a different situation than other forests.”
The intensity of the fight over the George Washington forest belies the limited potential for extracting gas. So far, no companies have applied to explore. Landgraf said that while half of forest’s land sits atop Marcellus shale, it’s on the eastern edge and lacks the liquid-rich deposits favored by producers at this time.
Even if the service eases the ban, only a small fraction of the forest would see oil or gas development in the next 15 years, according to the 2011 draft. Still, technology is changing so quickly that an area shunned by the industry today could become attractive in five or 10 years, industry representatives say.
“Don’t lock the door,” Mike Ward, executive director of the Virginia Petroleum Council in Richmond, said he told the forest service. “Leave some flexibility in there for the future.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

West Virginia chemical spill triggers nausea and vomiting among residents
Hundreds of residents have experienced adverse symptoms • Spill triggers widespread tap water ban for 'indefinite period'


Shale Gas News Releases

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Statement on Release of U.S. Geological Survey Assessment of North Carolina Oil and Gas Resources

Release: Immediate
Date: June 6, 2012
Contact: Diana Kees
email: diana.kees@ncdenr.gov
Phone: 919-707-8626

Statement on Release of U.S. Geological Survey Assessment of North Carolina Oil and Gas Resources

On June 5, 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released its assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources for five East Coast Mesozoic basins. Its assessment was released in a fact sheet entitled: “Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the East Coast Mesozoic Basins of the Piedmont, Blue Ridge Thrust Belt, Atlantic Coastal Plain, and New England Provinces, 2011” -- FS 2012-3075. This fact sheet, which includes an assessment of the North Carolina oil and gas resource, can be found on the USGS website at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2012/3075/fs2012-3075.pdf.
Dr. Kenneth Taylor, chief of the N.C. Geological Survey, has the following statement in regard to the USGS characterization of North Carolina oil and gas resource:
“Using a geology-based assessment method, the USGS estimates the mean undiscovered natural gas resources in the Deep River Basin in North Carolina to be 1,660 billion cubic feet of gas and 83 million barrels of natural gas liquids. Based on the 2010 average daily natural gas consumption volume in North Carolina of 811 million cubic feet per day, the USGS mean estimate of 1.66 trillion cubic feet could meet the state’s natural gas demand for 5.6 years.
“For the Dan River-Danville Basin, the mean undiscovered resources are 49 billion cubic feet of gas and no natural gas liquids. The USGS assessment combined both the North Carolina and Virginia portions to calculate one estimate for the entire basin. Based on the 2010 average daily natural gas consumption volume in North Carolina of 811 million cubic feet per day, the USGS mean estimate of 49 billion cubic feet could meet the state’s natural gas demand for 60 days.”
Crisis In West Virginia: Wal-Mart Calls In Police To Guard Bottled Water Delivery
At around 3:00pm, the Kanawha County police scanner lit up with reports of a shipment of water that was about to come in to a nearby

No quick fix for West Virginia water woes

Bottled water being trucked in to Charleston area

By Tom Watkins CNN
POSTED: 8:20 AM Jan 11 2014   UPDATED  36 mins
(CNN) - The do-not-use order issued Thursday for some 300,000 residents in nine West Virginia counties is unlikely to be lifted soon, an official said Saturday.

The heavy precipitation amounts associated with Fran led to numerous flood and flash flood
warnings from South Carolina northward through the eastern Great Lakes from September 5-8. Additionally, the rains brought many rivers in North Carolina, Virginia, and central Pennsylvania to or above flood stage. Particularly hard hit were Virginia and North Carolina, where record or near record river levels occurred at many gage sites. However, these record river rises were not attributable to Fran alone. In western and central Virginia, significant rains had fallen for two days prior to Fran's landfall. The aforementioned middle- to upper-level low over the Tennessee Valley combined with a high pressure ridge that had developed in the wake of Hurricane Edouard to produce a deep-layered southeasterly flow of Atlantic moisture directly into the central Appalachians. Rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches were common across much of central and western Virginia and north-central North Carolina Tuesday and Wednesday, September 3 and 4, with upwards of 10 inches of rain falling across favored upslope regions in south-central Virginia. The additional 6- to 10-inch rains from Fran on Thursday and Friday (which brought totals to more than 20 inches across some sections of central and western Virginia) over already saturated soil led to the major surface runoff problems and subsequent record river and stream flooding in Virginia and North Carolina.
Plus great map:

Radon emission exceeds standard at Tailings Cell 2 of White Mesa mill

The 2012 Annual Compliance Report external link for the emission of radon from the White Mesa Mill tailings impoundments reported that the radon flux for the 66-acre [27 ha] Cell 2 exceeded the standard in 2012. The Cell 2 emission of radon is 1.59 times the 20 pico Curie per square meter per second (pCi/m2/sec) [0.74 Bq/m2/sec] requirement for a tailings impoundment that exceeds 40 acres. Energy Fuels Resources Inc. (EFR) concluded that the increase in radon-222 flux from Cell 2 was caused by dewatering, and was unavoidable. In 2011 and 2012 EFR adopted an acclelerated dewatering program, based on the Ground Water Discharge Permit requirements. Cell 2 must also be dewatered to settle the tailings before the placement of the final radon barrier. The mill is required to have reclamation milestones for the placement of the interim cover, dewatering, and placement of the final radon barrier, but does not.
Due to the exceedance from Cell 2, EFR will be required to measure and report the radon flux on a monthly basis, starting April 2013.
The radon emissions will continue to increase during the dewatering process, which will take several years. EFR estimates that the radon emission levels will reach equilibrium, due to the depth of the tailings. Placement of additional fill will reduce the radon emissions. EFR estimates that the addition 1 foot to the interim cover reduce the average flux to within the standard, based on the estimated flux over the next year. EFR has proposed test plots with 1 foot of fill to determine if it will bring the emissions below the standard. If the tests are successful, the propose to add 1 foot of fill to the existing cover, to be completed by mid-2014.
They suggest this, even though they estimate that it will take 2 feet of fill to to reduce surface radon flux to below 20 pCi/m2/sec, regardless of the depth of dewatered tails. (Uranium Watch June 8, 2013)

State regulator approves remediation plan for nitrate in groundwater at White Mesa Mill

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Radiation Control is requesting public comment regarding a proposed Stipulation and Consent Order, Docket No. UGW12-04 (Order) (including Attachment 1). The proposed Order is being issued to approve a corrective action plan for remediation of ground water contaminated with nitrate at the Denison Mines (USA) Corp. White Mesa Uranium Mill located near Blanding, Utah. A Public Notice and Statement of Basis provide more information about this Order.
Public comments are invited any time prior to 5:00 p.m. on August 22, 2012.
On Dec. 12, 2012, the Division of Radiation Control approved the Corrective Action Plan for nitrate at the White Mesa Mill.
> View related documents external link (UT DEQ DRC)

Thursday, October 20th 11:46 AM IST

Floods force Agnico-Eagle to shut down Quebec mine

Rescuers pump flooded mine to find workers

CBC News Posted: Nov 02, 2009 10:50 AM ET Last Updated: Nov 02, 2009 11:41 AM ET

Rescue workers in Quebec continued painstaking efforts to drain water from a flooded gold mine in the province's northern region, where three miners had been missing since Friday night.
Hopes of finding the three men alive are growing dim on Monday, more than 48 hours after the accident.
Bruno Goulet, 36, Dominico Bollini, 44, and Marc Guay, 31 were doing repair work in a mine shaft at the Bachelor Lake facility in Desmaraisville, Que., when the flood happened.
Goulet and Bollini work for Metanor Resources while Guay was employed by mining contractor Montali. They descended at 11:30 p.m. on Friday to level 11 and 12 of the mine, about 485 metres below ground and well below sea level.

'It's like a little lake'

"We underestimated the quantity of water underground," Bernaquez admitted. "It's like a little lake."
Bernaquez said he hoped the men found a pocket of air at the 11th level.
All mining operations at the facility have been suspended.
Quebec's workplace and safety commission (CSST) and the province's provincial police force are investigating the accident.
Bernaquez said Metanor will let the CSST determine the cause of flooding.
"At this moment, we are concentrating on rescue efforts," he said.
About 70 people work at the Desmaraisville gold mine.

Mapping the Matoush project
MatoushProjectMapAn American geographer says the topography around Strateco’s uranium exploration proposal poses unacceptable threats to the region’s watershed
By Jesse Staniforth , The Nation, March 8, 2013
Background by Gordon Edwards:
After three years of learning about uranium mining and deliberating on the issue, the Cree Nations of Eeyou-Istchee (Northern Quebec) have declared a moratorium on all uranium exploration or mining in their region. Nevertheless, Strateco Corporation has launched a lawsuit in an attempt to pressure the Quebec Government to over-ride the Cree moratorium and allow the Matoush project to go ahead.
Called an "Advanced Uranium Exploration Project", the Matoush Project is in fact a small-scale uranium mining operation, intended to open up the ore body and lay the groundwork for a very large mining operation to follow. Throughout the region and in other parts of the province, there are dozens of additional uranium mines that would eventually open up if this one is allowed to go ahead.
All of this is taking place against a background of opposition to nuclear power and radioactive wastes in the province. With the permanent closure of the Gentilly-2 reactor on Dec. 28 2012, Quebec has phased out of nuclear power completely. With the passage of a unanimous motion by the National Assembly (in 2008) against the permanent storage of radioactive wastes from outside the province, Quebec has declared its intention to prohibit the handling and "disposal" of nuclear wastes.
The current government has indicated its intention to hold a generic inquiry into uranium mining, which will almost certainly be accompanied with a temporary moratorium. Over 300 Quebec municipalities have passed resolutions called for a permanent ban on uranium mining in the province, and there is currently a campaign to increase that number to 500 municipalities.
The following article is a welcome addition to the debate from a completely independent professional source.
Gordon Edwards.

Mapping the Matoush project

By Jesse Staniforth , The Nation, March 8, 2013
The Grand Council of the Crees and others in Eeyou Istchee opposed to Strateco Inc.’s plan for advanced uranium exploration in the Mistissini area recently made an important new ally: Michael Hunt, director of a Philadelphia firm called Watershed Vision.
In mid-February, Hunt circulated a Google Map (viewable here: http://goo.gl/maps/yHpEy) in which he isolated the area of the proposed Matoush project against colour-coded areas to highlight the proximity of the project to the Albanel-Mistassini-Waconichi Wildlife Reserve and the Albanel-Temiscamie-Otish National Park. As well, he used the map to identify the paths of the watersheds linking the proposed project site to the Temiscamie River.
“If even a small amount of uranium or toxic by-products (including, but not limited to, arsenic, thorium-230 and radioactive waste) were to get into the Temiscamie watershed,” Hunt said in the email accompanying the map, “the Wildlife Reserve and National Park would be permanently contaminated. Considering the dangerously close proximity of the proposed mines to this watershed, it is highly likely that contamination will occur, [risking the destruction of] the water supply of the nearby Mistassini community and the largest freshwater lake in Quebec, Lac Mistissini.”
According to the Facebook profile for Watershed Vision, the company’s mission “is to engage the public with rivers, parks and historic places through 360° photography and Google Maps, providing interactive, educational and creative tools to visualize and explore unique places virtually.” The company wants to educate the public in by using Google Maps to “tell the story of a region, watershed, project or environmental threat.”
At the moment, the Watershed Vision is working with the US National Park Service to design “Park View” and “River View” maps, using Google’s “Street View” technology to document natural locations.
“My work isn’t political,” Hunt insisted. “I’m not against mining. They need an economy [in Eeyou Istchee].” But he says all forms of resource development, whether hydro, coal, or other sources, have drawbacks and dangers to be evaluated against the projects potential economic benefits.
“But reading about radioactive material in these freshwater areas, that crossed a line for me,” he said. “My reaction was, ‘Holy shit! You’re putting a uranium mine 10 miles from your brand new national park! That is ridiculous!’”
Hunt has a childhood connection to Eeyou Istchee. Growing up, he attended and later became a counsellor at Camp Keewaydin, which runs summer camps in remote Ontario locations and organizes canoe trips throughout the James Bay region. Between the ages of 10 to 26, he paddled many of the waterways in northern Quebec, including the Rupert and Eastmain rivers.
Last year, Hunt and a friend again paddled the Rupert on a photographic expedition to document the changes in the river, which grew into the Watershed Vision project.
“What I want people to take away from [Watershed Vision] is that there are digital tools for people to understand and study the effects of this kind of industrialization,” he said. “With Google Maps, you can see the topography. If any toxins come into the system, you can see the direction they’ll go. You can’t lie about topography. It creates a very solid piece of evidence. No matter what you can say, this is the truth.”
For instance, he noted that Hydro-Quebec created large, shallow reservoirs that are demonstrably more quickly heated in the spring. New mapping technologies helps demonstrate how these artificial water bodies are affecting migration patterns of birds and animals.
Aurèle Gervais, spokesperson for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, says his organization has made “science-based” conclusions about the safety of the Matoush project, for which they granted a license last October.
“We’re there to make sure licensees carry out activities so that the environment and the public will be protected,” he said. “What we’re trying to do as an organization is to ensure the public that activities [licensed by the CNSC] are safe. It’s an attempt to reassure the public that we’re here to regulate the nuclear industry.”
The Matoush project has not yet been licensed for a mine, Gervais added, noting the CNSC has not yet received an application for mine construction. “In the case of a mine, the uranium ore would be dug out of the ground and transported to a mill, so I think the major concern that people have is the tailings that would remain,” he observed.
Gervais was unable to provide exact data on the risk of soil or water contamination from advanced uranium exploration by Strateco. Nor did scientists at CNSC respond to written questions before the Nation went to press. The Nation will publish their responses if and when they arrive.
Regardless of the CNSC’s assurances, Michael Hunt is wary of the project.
“There’s a hard reality that you can do everything safely, but can you control a truck whipping along those roads and spilling a tank [of toxic materials]? How can you assure me that will not happen? [Radioactive] material is a completely different substance: once it gets out there, you can’t wipe it up like oil. And once that operation is up and running, even if they put cameras all over, there’s minimal control they can have over it.”

Can water travel uphill?

Where ground water occurs

Rock materials may be classified as consolidated rock (often called bedrock) and may consist of sandstone, limestone, granite, and other rock, and as unconsolidated rock that consists of granular material such as sand, gravel, and clay. Two characteristics of all rocks that affect the presence and movement of ground water are porosity (size and amount of void spaces) and permeability (the relative ease with which water can move through spaces in the rock).

Consolidated rock may contain fractures, small cracks, pore spaces, spaces between layers, and solution openings, all of which are usually connected and can hold water. Bedded sedimentary rock contains spaces between layers that can transmit water great distances.

Most bedrock contains vertical fractures that may intersect other fractures, enabling water to move from one layer to another. Water can dissolve carbonate rocks, such as limestone and dolomite, forming solution channels through which water can move both vertically and horizontally. Limestone caves are a good example of solution channels. Consolidated rock may be buried below many hundred feet of unconsolidated rock or may crop out at the land surface. Depending upon the size and number of connected openings, this bedrock may yield plentiful water to individual wells or be a poor water-bearing system.
Unconsolidated material overlies bedrock and may consist of rock debris transported by glaciers or deposited by streams or deposited in lakes. It also may consist of weathered bedrock particles that form a loose granular or clay soil. Well-sorted unconsolidated material can store large quantites of ground water; the coarser materials—sand and gravel—readily yield water to wells.