April 30, 2015

Jeffrey Parsons, Attorney 303-823-5738
Lilias Jarding, Ph.D., 605-787-2872 (Clean Water Alliance)
Debra White Plume, (Owe Aku)

Debra White Plume - Owe Aku
Debra White Plume – Owe Aku

Opponents of a proposed uranium mine claimed victory today, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) ruled that proper procedures have not been followed to protect Native American cultural resources and that further action must be taken to protect water resources before the proposed mining project can go forward.  The Dewey-Burdock mine is proposed for Fall River and Custer Counties in southwestern South Dakota.

The ASLB required that Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff go back and do proper consultation with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, one of the parties in the licensing procedure.  According to Jeffrey Parsons, attorney for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, “As we have argued from the start of this process over five years ago, Powertech/Azarga and the NRC staff have never conducted an adequate review of impacts to cultural resources, and also did not impose sufficient controls to protect aquifers from contamination through historic drill holes.  The Board ruling today confirms these major flaws in the company’s analysis.”

Debra White Plume of Owe Aku/Bring Back the Way added, “The ASLB decision regarding the NRC’s violation of its own standards is a battle victory in the multilayered, protracted paper war to protect sacred water and cultural and sacred places from extractive industries that intend to operate without meaningful regulation and oversight.”

Analysis by Dr. Hannan LaGarry, a geologist, indicates that there are at least 7,500 historic drill holes on the proposed mine site, as well as faults, at least one sinkhole, and artesian springs – all of which create the likelihood that water contamination could not be controlled, if mining is allowed to proceed.  The ASLB ruling requires that, prior to conducting tests at the site, the company must “attempt to locate and properly abandon all historic drill holes located within the perimeter well ring for the wellfield.  The licensee will document, and provide to the NRC, such efforts to identify and properly abandon all drill holes.”

“We have been heard and acknowledged,” said Sarah Peterson of It’s All About the Water.

“Hopefully, the company and the NRC recognize the significance of the ruling today, and they will stop trying to both gloss over the serious problems with the proposed project and to move forward on the cheap,” said Lilias Jarding of Clean Water Alliance.  “We must protect our water and our economy from imprudent development of radioactive uranium mining,” added Gena Parkhurst, Chairperson of the Black Hills Chapter of Dakota Rural Action.


Dakota Rural Action is a grassroots family agriculture and conservation group that organizes South Dakotans to protect our family farmers and ranchers, natural resources, and unique way of life.

It’s All About the Water is a grassroots group based in Fall River County, S.D.

Owe Aku is a grassroots cultural preservation and human rights nongovernmental organization headquartered on the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation.

The Clean Water Alliance is a diverse collection of citizens concerned about the health, environmental, and economic impacts that proposed uranium mining projects would have on our communities, people, economy, and natural resources. Our goal is to prevent uranium mining in the Black Hills region, and to protect our valuable resources for future generations.


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