This is for you, but also for the EPA. I know that EPA Region 6 is reading all of this. I know, believe me.
Mr. Rubinstein recused himself. I was there. I reviewed his statement several times, but could not decipher or understand his reason for recusing. Perhaps the man has a soul and knew the predetermined outcome, and simply could not disagree formally without putting certain things at risk.
With that aside, you have been following this situation for the last several years. You know that I looked for something good, but could find nothing. I researched historical data and found nothing good but only devastation, illness and death, particularly with the Navajo in New Mexico, who gained much more recognition than the "hillbillies" of Texas in the late 70's and early 80's during the uranium boom and crash.
You know that I am not against mining. I am against irresponsible mining and this is a classic example. No "in situ" uranium mine's water has ever been restored to its original quality, and levels of dissolved contaminants continue to rise after they're gone. The reason is still unknown or undisclosed, why the aquifer will not stabilize after mining.
I've come to realize that I can't blame UEC. Why would they care about my family's water? They care about their investors and Texas is by far the easiest state to mine uranium in, and that has become evident with TCEQ's blatant disregard for environmental protection even with obvious potentially huge groundwater contamination.
Contamination with what? I'm not so concerned about the uranium itself, or the radium or anything else. Mr. Holmes with UEC made the statement to me in the very first public meeting that once these metals reach a "reducing environment", that they will precipate out of the water, and I do not disagree with that. What I'm worried about is the mining fluid itself and what it will carry downstream if an injection well loses circulation on or around that fault.
Small veins and pockets of uranium and thorium exist all over the place around here, but they are reduced and not dissolved. Oxygen dissolves these metals, releasing them into the water. The mining fluids release oxygen but with a very alkaline pH, under pressure, and THAT is what I'm afraid of more than anything.
I have a second cousin, his name is Bob Krueger. I call him "Uncle Bob" for our age difference. Uncle Bob is quite the guy, quite the politician. In fact, he was Texas Railroad Commissioner at one time, then a Congressman. He was Ambassador to Berundi during the genocide years. What a guy.
I think I'll call him again this evening.
When (not if) the mining operation results in contamination of groundwater, the game is over and the water is ruined for perpetuity. This kind of roughshod behavior from industry makes more and more of the country unsafe for human habitation. Promises from industry to the contrary, all they amount to is making people hold still until they can be shaken down and left with an impossible clean up after the industry has made a clean getaway.
I struggle to comprehend what this message means or why it was worth the print. Would one not expect TCEQ to have safeguards in place and extreme monitoring procedures that would ensure no contamination of ground water for public and private protection? The VA fails to understand that this situation is not just fun and games.TCEQ is in the business of economic development under the smokescreen of appearing (or being required) to care about the environment and the populace. I can provide numerous examples. This has nothing to do with partisan politics.
"We do question why the TCEQ would take a risk with people's drinking water after an administrative law judge denied the permit."
Answer: Marching Orders
"This issue can be emotional, and it's not always easy to understand a decision such as TCEQ's, which was based on complex scientific data."
The scientific data very clearly should have shut this down. The mining zone is on top of and adjacent to a fault which is not sealed by their own pump test results. That means that water can move up or down between sands. ISL mining in an aquifer in Texas requires a "confined aquifer", and this is not.
"As we have seen and learned, the uranium mining industry is one of the most regulated in the country. There are many safeguards and regulations to which these companies have to adhere."
Uranium mining is self-regulated in Texas, and the TCEQ person who checks on them schedules an appointment once a year. I know because I talked to the guy. He may pop in unexpectedly every six months or so. The mining company is expected to report problems voluntarily.
"We live in a region that has been economically supported by regulated drilling, mining and production."
This isn't like oil or gas. It's shallow, in the drinking water and cannot be detected by the human senses.
"If Goliad residents aren't convinced, they should continue to push the issue."
I don't live in Goliad County. I live in Victoria County across Coleto Creek and downgradient (directly towards the ocean) from the mining zone. Three out of nineteen water wells in our area show traces of uranium, but well below EPA's maximum contamination level (MCL) of 30 micrograms per liter. These metals are reduced and at rest. What will happen if mining fluids come into contact with these ore bodies? Ya think the levels of dissolved uranium will go up?
Last, but not least, the Aquifer Exemption must now be approved by EPA. Hmm. Wonder if they've been following the sunset review. This should be interesting.
One of the BIG problems with not only the TCEQ, but many other "environmental" agencies, both state level and national level, is that they are NOT elected at all. They are selected by an obscure appointment process, which basically shields the appointing elected official. This allows these organizations to be political tools of potential big business sponsors (campaign contributors) rather than representatives of the people's best interest. This is one of the reasons TCEQ is possibly to be eliminated this time through the Sunset Commission review. Their "charge" is easily met by other agencies already in place and functioning more efficiently. If the people really want this issue addressed, they need to make their comments known to the Sunset commission, headed up by our own Senator Hegar. Public comments can be made online .....on the Sunset Commissions own website. We need to get these agencies managed by elected officials, and stop these political appointments if we ever wish to see them become responsive to public will.
Welcome to the Victoria Adovcate
Are you guys serious? The TCEQ is full of Perry's cronies!They would rubber stamp genocide if some lobbyist told them they could profit from it. The Republican Party represents business interest and sticks it to the little guys. Goliad is full of rich (real republicans) as well as Buba (bible and guns) republicans and I hope their water gives them all the ills they voted for....KARMA is great!