Administrative Law Judge Recommends, Deny Permit for UEC Failure to Protect Water
Goliad County Commissioners, Ground Water Conservation District officials, and concerned farmers, landowners and other residents of the Goliad area are preparing to travel to Austin on Tuesday to hear a decision by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on a permit application by Uranium Energy Corporation (UEC) for an in situ leech (ISL) uranium mine.
“The area where UEC wants to mine uranium contains many drinking water wells,” said Art Dohmann with the Goliad County Ground Water Conservation District. “Water is the lifeblood of our county. We are deeply concerned that UEC must not be allowed to contaminate and destroy our underground drinking water with the heavy metals and radio-nuclides they would stir up in the uranium mining process.”
Texas State Administrative Law Judge Richard Wilfong (the Judge) reviewed a contested case brought by the County and Ground Water District and recommended that the TCEQ deny the permit based on a failure to demonstrate the company can adequately protect drinking water. The U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act and the Texas Water Code require that the no injection well permit may be issued that causes contamination of an underground source of drinking water.
“The Judge did the right thing and we sincerely hope the Commissioners will follow the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Texas Water Code and deny this permit,” said Attorney Rob Baiamante who representing Goliad County. “Goliad County residents currently enjoy their right to an excellent source of underground drinking water and this company must not be allowed to ruin it.”
Baiamonte and Attorney Adam Friedman, with the Houston-based firm Blackburn-Carter representing the Ground Water Conservation District expect that the three TCEQ Commissioners will most likely make one of three potential decisions —
1. Deny the permit based on the ALJ’s legal recommendation.
2. Send the application back requiring additional water testing and an additional hearing. This would be an added financial burden on the County and Ground Water District and would assist the applicant’s effort.
3. Disregard the ALJ’s recommendation and approve the permit leaving the protective responsibility of upholding the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Texas Water Code to the Region VI office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Mary Anklam who farms next to the site where UEC wants to mine said, “The exploration for uranium alone caused sales of our goats to drop and we went out of that business. It would be a crime for UEC to be allowed to ruin the water that we drink and use on our farm. The Judge was right to recommend that TCEQ should not give this company a permit. We are asking the TCEQ to apply the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Texas Water Code and protect us and our neighbors and not just help this company make money by exporting dangerous uranium.”
The TCEQ Commissioners’ Hearing on the UEC application will take place Tuesday, December 14 at 9:30 AM at the TCEQ headquarters in Austin, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin, Building E, conference room 201-S. The item will refer to SOAH Docket Number 582-09-3064 and TCEQ Docket Number 2008-1888-UIC.
Goliad County officials and residents encourage the media and public to attend.
# # #