EPA requests delay in decision about aquifer exemption

Sara  Sneath By Sara Sneath

April 1, 2014 at 8:05 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.

The Environmental Protection Agency wants an extension to determine whether uranium mining can proceed as already approved in Goliad County.

The agency requested a 60-day extension for the decision, which was to be handed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

In its request for an extension, the agency stated it "cannot complete all of the tasks identified in its remand motion" by the deadline.

The extension is an indication that the EPA is taking the review period seriously, said Goliad County Groundwater District President Raulie Irwin.

"Obviously, this is better than them rubber-stamping the approval," Irwin said.

As of Tuesday night, no action had been taken on the request.

The exemption removes the protection provided by the Safe Drinking Water Act from four sands of the Goliad Aquifer.

During the review period, the aquifer exemption, granted last year by the EPA, remains effective, meaning the Uranium Energy Corp. has permission to mine.

Together with a state-issued permit, the aquifer exemption allows Uranium Energy Corp. to extract uranium through in-situ mining, a process in which a hole is drilled into the ore deposit and a leaching solution is pumped into the deposit to extract the ore and bring it to the surface.

Uranium Energy Corp. opposes the 60-day extension, according to the EPA's request.

New issues with the aquifer exemption were raised through the public comment period, according to the EPA's request.

"Some of these new issues resulted in EPA's desire to collect more information data from the field," the response stated.



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