Saturday, December 14, 2019

Oglala Oyate considering uranium litigation

Pants Butte south of Edgemont, South Dakota

Nearly all of the 300 mile long Cheyenne River flows through Indian Country. Powertech USA, part of Canadian firm Azarga Uranium, wants to mine near a tributary of the river even though tailings from uranium mining near Edgemont have been detected for years in Angostura Reservoir on the Cheyenne River in the southern Black Hills.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe is considering whether to appeal a decision by a panel of judges that a proposed uranium mine site in southwest South Dakota doesn’t have to be surveyed for Native American burials or artifacts. The tribe has until Jan. 6 to file an appeal. [KDLT teevee]
South of Edgemont at Crow Butte near the headwaters of the White River above Crawford, Nebraska Canada-based Cameco, Inc. has obtained rights to use 9,000 gallons of water per minute to extract raw uranium ore through 8,000 holes bored into the Ogallala and Arikaree Aquifers. The foreign miners have already pumped over half a billion gallons of radioactive waste water into disposal wells and have rights to bury more. In 2014 Cameco, the world’s largest uranium producer, paid a million dollar fine for environmental damage in Wyoming. The White River also flows through much of Indian Country in South Dakota. Earlier this year workers at Cameco's Key Lake uranium mill in Canada reported 50,000 litres of radon-contaminated water had leaked through the concrete floor into the ground. It has yet to be remediated.

At least 23 prehistoric sites near Devils Tower National Monument in the Wyoming Black Hills, some of which are archaeological treasures eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, are also at risk to an 8000-acre expansion of Australia’s largest US aquifer uranium mining operation.

In northwestern South Dakota radioactive waste in the Cave Hills area went for decades without remediation because the Board of Minerals and Environment is an arm of the Republican Party that ceded regulatory authority to the US Environmental Protection Agency for uranium mining after the legislature realized there is no competent oversight from state agencies.

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