• TCEQ is a double-edged sword. They operate under the guise that they enforce the same or better environmental quality standards as the EPA sets on a National Level. This is not always the case, though. A small percentage of entities under the authority of TCEQ operate above acceptable concentrations of contaminants and are granted an exemption from them at the sole discretion of the executive director. In most states, The State Health Department works with the EPA, however, in a handful of states, they too also have Independent State run Commisions that wedge themselves in between the EPA and their Health Departments.

    Having said that, lets talk about groundwater. Groundwater is an incredibly complicated thing. They are massive, underground veins of wet sand trapped between strata of rock, slowly moving chemical reactions. In most cases, mining Uranium from the groundwater actually decreases the amount of Uranium in the groundwater downstream from the mine. Many counties in Texas are required by law to test for Radionucleids because of a natural abundance of the material. However, it is also very much possible to disturb the groundwater streams and make them completely unusable, and not just contaminated but also polluted.

    The EPA is a group of scientists charged with safe-guarding public health. TCEQ is a political entity charged with safe-guarding private wealth.

    Personally, I hope these wells actually do get put into service provided that they in no way what-so-ever effect rural drinking water wells, and until a competent engineer can demonstrate their safety in writing.

    If they do end up doing something detrimental to the groundwater, to actually have any recourse, the burden of proof shifts to the rural residents. In which case, the EPA will usually come in and force the mining company to provide water for those affected until a scientific investigation can be completed.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.