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150 Crossroads residents attend EPA hearing about uranium mining

By Sara Sneath
Feb. 11, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 11, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.


epa review

The EPA's 60-day review period will end March 30. On April 1, the EPA will submit its findings to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The EPA will continue to take public comments until midnight Feb. 14. Email your comments to smith.diane@epa.gov.

Goliad residents voiced scientific, ethical and emotional reasons at a public hearing Tuesday night to argue why the EPA should not allow a uranium mining company to pollute part of an aquifer in Goliad County.

"Although there are legal issues that may say the EPA has the right to grant this, I would suggest that you consider the moral issues involved," said Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger with Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio.

About 150 people attended the event, which was at the Victoria Community Center. Residents came to address the Environmental Protection Agency.

The hearing concerning Goliad residents was in Victoria because of the need for a large venue, said Stacey Dwyer, EPA's associate director for source water protection branch.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the EPA the motion to remand the aquifer exemption decision, giving the EPA a 60-day review period, during which time the aquifer exemption remains effective, Dwyer said.

Goliad residents fear that their water supply could be contaminated by Uranium Energy Corp. The company wants to send chemicals into part of an aquifer that will release uranium in a process known as in situ mining.

Alvin DeForest said he and his wife live 3 miles south of the land leased by Uranium Energy Corp. on a farm that has been in the family for more than 100 years. DeForest said he also attends St. Peters Lutheran Church, which is "a stone's throw away" from UEC's proposed mining site.

"Many would suffer if we were not able to function either from the lack of water or from contaminated water," he said about the congregation. "Simply put, it is essential that we take whatever measures possible to assure that this God-given resource is not abused in any way."

Andy Barrett, an attorney representing UEC, also spoke. "Reasonable minds can differ. Reasonable scientists can differ, but we think we've met our burden of proof," he said. "We think TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) and EPA rulings have been correct."

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