Uranium is a vital energy resource in Texas
March 9, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated March 8, 2011 at 9:09 p.m.
We are appreciative of the Victoria Advocate's ongoing coverage of the approval of Uranium Energy Corporation's mining permit in Goliad County.
The newspaper provides an excellent public service to its readers by printing relevant and accurate information about the uranium industry in Texas.
However, there is an old adage in Texas that says "a rumor can make it half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on." There seems to be a lot of rumors floating around about the uranium industry and groundwater. Uranium mining operations are extensively regulated by a number of state and federal authorities before operations can begin. All projects require an exhaustive permit approval process that typically lasts three to five years. UEC's Goliad permit application process is in its fourth year. In addition, the project was the subject of a protracted contested case hearing whereby all pertinent aspects of the operation were intensely examined and reviewed by a state administrative law judge.
The protection of groundwater is important to every uranium company, including UEC. Those that don't take this responsibility seriously are not likely to survive in this highly regulated business. We take great care to ensure that area groundwater is not affected by our operations. UEC utilizes the in-situ recovery process in our mining operations. It's a safe and proven technology that has been around for more than 30 years and is a better way to remove naturally occurring uranium without harming the environment.
Despite many of the hysterical claims by uranium mining opponents, there has never been a documented instance of drinking water contamination resulting from ISR mining in Texas or other states where uranium is recovered by the ISR process. What some opponents don't tell you is that, in its natural state, the water in a uranium mining zone already does not meet minimum federal water quality standards and should not be used for agriculture, domestic consumption, municipal or industrial purposes. The best and most productive use of this water is to assist in the recovery of a clean and efficient energy resource.
To provide an extra layer of safety, the industry is required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to carry out strict water quality monitoring by regularly collecting groundwater samples from monitoring wells in and around the mining site. This technology allows for the detection of the slightest change in groundwater quality long before uranium or other ore zone constituents could possibly escape the mining area. Most groundwater used in mining uranium or post-mining restoration is recycled and after mining, the groundwater is suitable to serve the same uses as before mining. Uranium production areas must be restored to pre-mining conditions per state and federal regulations and the companies carry out extensive and thorough restoration of all production areas.
Development of domestic sources of uranium is critical and we are fortunate to have an extensive supply of naturally occurring uranium in South Texas. Nuclear energy still provides more than 20 percent of the electrical energy in the United States but 95 percent of the uranium necessary to power these plants is imported from foreign sources, many with unstable governments. To realistically meet the ever-growing demand for electricity, nuclear power generation must take on a larger role in our overall energy mix.
The uranium industry is a vital part of our national energy policy, and UEC is proud to play an important role in that effort. We look forward to being a good neighbor in Goliad, creating jobs and contributing to the local tax base.
Harry L. Anthony is the chief operating officer of the Uranium Energy Corporation.