EPA’s Justification for Proposal to Update Groundwater Protection Standards at Uranium Mining Facilities Unfounded
AUSTIN, Texas (April 15, 2015) - According to testimony provided by TMRA representatives at an EPA-led public meeting in Corpus Christi yesterday, justification for EPA's proposal to revise currentAUSTIN, Texas (April 15, 2015) – According to testimony provided by TMRA representatives at an EPA-led public meeting in Corpus Christi yesterday, justification for EPA's proposal to revise current groundwater protection standards at facilities that extract uranium using the in-situ recovery process, i.e. Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 192, is without foundation, and would have significant negative impact on Texas' uranium mining industry, which provides a safe, reliable fuel source for power production.
EPA claims that the intent of the proposed regulations is to conserve naturally contaminated groundwater for future use as drinking water, however, the proposed revisions would drastically expand the permitting process and lengthen the reclamation process by decades, based only on unsupported assumptions and, if anything, lead to a greater consumption of groundwater with no environmental benefit.
Currently, effective regulations for restoration and stability monitoring are in place and enforced by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. These regulations have evolved over the past 30 years, along with the in-situ uranium mining industry, and have successfully prevented the migration of mining fluid to adjacent aquifers.
“EPA proposes new regulations under the veil of environmental protection and conservation, but fails to recognize or consider that the groundwater in question does not currently meet EPA's own drinking water standards before any mining has occurred, and will not meet EPA's drinking water standards despite additional restoration and stability measures,” said Ches Blevins, executive director of TMRA. “But, regardless of whether mining or decades of stability monitoring has occurred, the treatment required to make naturally contaminated groundwater suitable for human consumption is, and would remain, identical.”
Following review of the comments provided by TMRA and other members of the public, the agency will make a final decision on the proposed rule, which is expected by the end of the year.
The Texas Mining and Reclamation Association (TMRA) is a single voice for the Texas mining industry that exhibits integrity, clarity and vision in its efforts to create a balance between mineral production, environmental protection, economic strength and public welfare and to inform the public, regulators and legislators of the value of mining to the Texas economy and lifestyle.