Key points from only site-specific uranium report
Other site-specific findings in this report include the following:
- Unlike most U.S. uranium mining sites, which occur in desert or semi-desert, sparsely-populated regions, the Coles Hill site is wet, with annual precipitation equal to about 42 inches. Most importantly, within a radius of 2 to 3 miles, Coles Hill has roughly 250 private wells, at least one dairy and numerous hay / forage fields, which are liable to be impacted.
- Virginia Uranium has failed to present any sort of detailed project proposal, in writing. The verbally-described plans have changed constantly, depending on the audience. Hence the public has no way of reliably knowing the details of the proposed mining and mineral processing methods, or the related impacts.
- The project as proposed may generate at least 28 million tons of solid uranium mill tailings and roughly the same amount of liquid waste. The solid wastes would remain on site forever, requiring maintenance forever. Uranium mill tailings would contain radionuclides, heavy metals and other toxic elements.
- Undiluted tailings liquids may contain 1160 to 1460 times the existing Safe Drinking Water Act standard for uranium. Undiluted tailings liquids may contain 2300 to 2900 times the allowable uranium concentrations when compared to the short-term Canadian aquatic life guidelines.
- The confirmed presence of sulfides in the Coles Hill rock raises the possibility that long-term, active water treatment may be required, in perpetuity.
- Numerous factors (i.e., natural permeability of the rock due to fractures and faults; increased fracturing due to mine blasting; open or leaking boreholes and blastholes; high permeability in the nearby sediments; long-term degradation of tailings liners and other mine structures; and seismic activity) combine to provide long-term pathways for the migration of contaminants into local waters.
- As proposed, the Coles Hill project would require over 5 billion gallons of water. During the start-up period, the project would use at least 525.6 million gallons per year.
- It has been estimated that at least 136 million gallons of ground water (mostly) would flow into the open pit, per year. This water would become contaminated with numerous radioactive and non-radioactive contaminants. To allow mining, this contaminated water must be pumped out of the pit and discharged to some undefined location.
- The Coles Hill project may use over 2,030 tons of explosive per year, releasing potentially-toxic concentrations of nitrate, ammonia, and other organic compounds into the environment.
- Such a project would cause long-term, chronic degradation of water quality and increase water competition in the region.
- Statistically-adequate baseline data (water quality, quantity, etc.) have never been collected, compiled and interpreted, or released to the public. Thus, the public has no reliable “yardstick” against which to demonstrate that changes have occurred, or not.
- There is no credible evidence to indicate that either the Federal or State regulatory agencies have sufficient staff, budgets, or political clout to adequately- oversee and enforce the appropriate regulations.
- All such large-scale uranium projects involve trade-offs, usually some short-term jobs, etc. in exchange for long-term impacts (environmental, socioeconomic, etc.), most of which are paid by future generations. Thus, many of the long-term costs will be subsidized by the public.
p. 2-3, Moran Report