Atomic Safety And Licensing Board Rules Against Challenge To Edgemont Uranium Mine

RAPID CITY, SD (AP) – A 3-judge panel of the federal Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, part of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has dismissed the final challenge to the NRC’s approval of Azarga Uranium’s proposed Dewey Burdock uranium mine north of Edgemont.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe contended the NRC’s envrionmental review of the 17-square mile project failed to adequately consider the potential impact on places of Native American cultural, historical, and religious significance.

The licensing board held 3 days of hearings in August in Rapid City, then issued its ruling this past week – concluding the NRC tried diligently to meet the required level of study and was justified in ending the process because the tribe wouldn’t cooperate. The tribe has until Jan 6th to appeal the decision.

The Dewey Burdock project was first proposed a decade ago by Powertech Uranium, now part of Azarga – whose President and CEO Blake Steele called the decision in a news release Friday a “monumental achievement for the company” that “represents a key risk reduction event and a significant step towards realizing the full value of the Dewey Burdock Project.”

Even if the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board decision stands, Azarga still has multiple regulatory hurdles to clear before work can begin on the mine, which will use the same in-situ production method used at the Crow Butte Mine near Crawford.

The EPA is re-proposing approval of an aquifer exemption and reissuing revised permits for the injection wells and a well that would inject treated waste fluids deep underground. The EPA held a public input session in Hot Springs in October with a decision expected early next year.

The project also still needs state permits. The South Dakota Dept of Environment and Natural Resources staff has recommended approval, but hearings were tabled unless and until federal permits are issued.

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