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Subject: Lakota win standing in Cameco nuclear fight
From: “wsdp” <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, December 13, 2008 7:07 am
FYI – Good news.
From the article below: “This is about the Human Rights of my clients
and their future generations to have clean drinking water,” said Bruce
Ellison, attorney for White Plume and Owe Aku.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Lakota win standing in Cameco nuclear fight
By Alex White Plume
Water Protectors and Human Rights Activists Granted Standing to Oppose
the World’s Largest Uranium Producer Transnational Corporation: Cameco,
PINE RIDGE SD–An Atomic Licensing Board (ALB) judges’ panel of the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ruled in favor of petitioners who
filed interventions in the 10-year license renewal of Cameco, Inc.’s In
Situ Leach (ISL) uranium mine near Crawford, Nebraska.
The petitioners include individuals from Nebraska and the Pine Ridge
(SD) Indian Reservation; as well as the Oglala Sioux Tribe; the Oglala
Delegation of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council; the Lakota
nongovernmental organization Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), and the
environmental group Western Nebraska Resources Council.
“This is a huge victory for us,” says Debra White Plume, representing
the Pine Ridge based nongovernmental organization Owe Aku, and a member
of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
ISL uranium mining involves massive pumping of oxygenated water into
aquifers to dissolve and strip uranium from sandstone particles at the
bottom of the aquifer. The process removes most of the uranium and then
pumps toxic water back into the aquifer where it can mix with drinking
water aquifers, rivers and streams.
The mined water is then stored above ground in evaporation ponds or
dumped into a deep disposal well under the drinking water aquifer.
On July 28, 2008, thirteen individuals and groups filed to intervene in
the license renewal. A petition was also filed in November 2007 to
intervene in the North Trend Expansion of the same Crow Butte uranium
Plaintiffs oppose the renewal and expansion of the Crow Butte mine’s
license because of suspected contamination of drinking water sources
with Arsenic, Radium, Thorium, and heavy metals due to the mixing of the
mined water with community groundwater.
Further threats are presented by spills and leaks into the White River,
which flows from the ISL mine towards Chadron, NE and Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation and which cuts through the land of several of the
Plaintiffs said that threats to public health and safety exist due to
the faults and fractures that link the mining site and drinking water
aquifers and that the license application is missing key information,
such as the fact that the Crow Butte mine is wholly-owned by a Canadian
corporation and that foreign ownership of the mine is not allowed by the
Atomic Energy Act of 1954.
Following the recent Sept 30 hearing, the ALB judges admitted nine
contentions including the failure to disclose non-radiological impacts,
failure to consult regarding cultural resources, failure to disclose
impact on surface waters, including The White River, failure to disclose
fractures and faults connecting the mined aquifer and drinking aquifers,
failure to disclose that wastes are released on-site, failure to include
recent research, failure to account for the value of non-degraded
wetlands, and failure to disclose foreign ownership.
On the issue of foreign ownership of the mine and the concealment of
that fact, the Commission ruled, “its resolution in this proceeding is
potentially fatal to Crow Butte’s proposed renewal of its license. The
Board is of the opinion that it is in the best interest in the
management of this proceeding that this issue be segregated from the
other contentions and briefed on the merits up front.”
David Frankel, attorney for Consolidated Petitioners, says that briefs
on the issue of foreign ownership and concealment are due by end of
December, with responses in January, and a decision about 30-45 days
thereafter. If the Commission rules against the company on the foreign
ownership issue they will either lose their license and start 20 years
of full time water restoration or sell the mine to a US company.
“I am glad that the court ruled in our favor, I know we still have a lot
of work ahead of us in exposing what’s been going on at the mine and
undoing the damage that the mine has already caused to our water supply.
Cameco must take responsibility for the damage that their mine caused,
and pay to repair that damage.
‘Here at Pine Ridge, we have widespread Arsenic contamination and a rate
of diabetes 800 times the national average, so it is clear to me that we
have to continue to fight to make the water safe for our children and
grandchildren,” says White Plume.
“This is about the Human Rights of my clients and their future
generations to have clean drinking water,” said Bruce Ellison, attorney
for White Plume and Owe Aku.
ISL mines owned by Cameco, Inc. in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Canada have
all had major spills and leaks and were recently fined for permit
violations ($1.4 mm in WY and $100,000 in NE). Cameco polluted Lake
Ontario from its plant in Port Hope, Ontario which has been discharging
Uranium, Arsenic and Radium into Lake Ontario.
Petitioners asserted claims that Cameco does not consider the
environmental benefits of the ecosystems that are being damaged. The
Board admitted the contention regarding wetland impacts and the economic
value of the environmental benefits from those wetlands in a
“We will appeal aspects of the Board’s ruling such as their refusal to
admit our contention about the spiritual value of pristine water for
traditional Lakota medicines and cultural ceremonies such as the inipi
(sweat lodge),” says Frankel.
The Petitioners expect Cameco to file for license amendments to expand
the current mining area to include another two uranium mines, the Three
Crow and the Marsland Expansions, and say they will oppose these two
applications as well.
Contact Katya Kruglak at 703.304.5075.
Posted by Brenda Norrell