Taking the fight to Powertech

It’s a big week for opponents of Powertech, Inc.’s proposed Dewey-Burdock in situ leach (ISL) uranium mine in Fall River County.

First off, we had hoped that Senator Stan Adelstein (R-Pennington County) would sponsor legislation, drafted by our friends at the Clean Water Alliance, to restore oversight of uranium mining in South Dakota to the state Department of Energy and Natural Resources.

In 2011, SB-158 took that oversight away, and now Powertech, Inc. wants to take advantage of our lax regulations to pollute South Dakota’s water.

Uranium Wrong Way Go Back

Anti-uranium mining protesters in the Northwest Territories, Canada

The Canadian company’s proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium mine in Fall River County would use 9,000 gallons of water a minute for a process called in-situ leach (ISL) mining, to dissolve uranium deep in the earth’s crust near Edgemont. They plan to spray the waste water over 1,000, where it might easily affect wildlife and result in polluted runoff. And then they would take the profits out of state and even out of the country, leaving South Dakota to pay for their mess.

Without effective local and state oversight, South Dakota’s water is at risk.

That’s we all need to call Sen. Adelstein today and tell him how important it is for him to sponsor this bill. We recognize that he has a lot on his plate, and we would never ask him to take this on if the safety of South Dakota’s water and environment weren’t at stake. You can call Sen. Adelstein at the following numbers:

or send him an email here.

If Sen. Adelstein doesn’t sponsor this bill, it’s entirely possible we won’t get another shot at restoring DENR oversight this legislative session. And by next year, it might be too late. So let’s let Stan know we’re counting on him.

Then, when we’ve done that, Powertech representative Mark Hollenbeck gave a presentation last week to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee about the “benefits” of ISL uranium mining in South Dakota. There was no equivalent presentation from the other side, so citizens all over South Dakota sent in dozens of emails letting our representatives know that SD can’t afford Powertech.

Now, tomorrow (Thursday 1/18/2013), Mr. Hollenbeck will be giving the same presentation to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Our friends at the Clean Water Alliance heard from one of the House Representatives on the committee there that he received more emails about the Powertech presentation than anything else he’d ever worked on – and the entire committee is asking questions and listening.

So we need to do it again.

Call or email the legislators on the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee TODAY to express your concerns about ISL uranium mining and Powertech. We have to make sure that the people’s voice are heard on this issue, not just Powertech’s.

Contact information for the members of the committee can be found here. Phone calls should be made to the Capitol building contact number at (605) 773-3251.

ISL wellfield

In-situ leach wellfield under construction by Power Resources, Inc., presumably in Wyoming.

The committee will not be taking any votes or making any decisions, but Mr. Hollenbeck will be selling Powertech and the uranium mine as hard as he can. The committee needs to hear before Mr. Hollenbeck’s presentation that there are serious concerns about in situ leech uranium mining, and about Powertech.

We’ve done this before, and it worked. We can’t let the pressure off now.

AND THEN (in case you thought this fight was over – it isn’t)…

This Friday (1/18) is the final day to sign on as an intervenor in Powertech’s groundwater discharge permit hearing.

If you intervene, that means the state will keep you up to date on the permit’s progress, and you will have the right to testify to the DENR. You can use the following letter as a guide to your own intervenor letter:

Matt Hicks
South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Ground Water Quality Program
Joe Foss Building
523 E. Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501

RE: Application for a Ground Water Discharge Plan filed by Powertech Uranium

Dear Mr. Hicks:

I am requesting that a contested case be initiated in the above matter and that I be admitted as an intervenor in the above application. I am concerned about this application because I am interested in water quality, land use, and wildlife in western South Dakota. I oppose this application because I believe the proposed ground water discharge would harm wildlife, create runoff, and pollute the Cheyenne River, and I want the permit application to be denied.

I request that the deadline for filing petitions to initiate a contested case in this matter, currently scheduled for January 18, 2013, be extended until February 1, 2013, to allow full public participation, as the Notice was published during the holidays.

Please keep me informed of all proceedings and documents related to this application.

Thank you.


Signature: _________________________________
Print Name: ________________________________
Address: ___________________________________
Phone: ____________________________________

cc: Powertech (USA) Inc.
c/o Richard Blubaugh
5575 DTC Parkway, Suite 140
Greenwood Village, CO. 80111

Notice you need to send a copy to both the DENR and Powertech, and that your letter needs to be postmarked by Friday 1/18.

Phew! Think you’ve got it covered? Nobody said protecting the environment was going to be easy, especially when we don’t have well-paid lobbyists to make slick presentations to legislative committees for us. Let’s make sure our legislators hear the people’s voice too, and not just Powertech’s!


About sdpeacejustice

The SD Peace & Justice Center connects a grassroots network of South Dakotans working for social justice and against violence and oppression.
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