Permits related to injection activities in the southern Black Hills region in South Dakota
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued two draft Underground Injection Control (UIC) Area Permits to Powertech Inc. for injection activities related to a proposed uranium recovery project in the southern Black Hills region in Custer and Fall River Counties of South Dakota. EPA will conduct information sessions combined with public hearings April 27 and May 8 to May 11. EPA will accept public comments on the draft permits and a proposed aquifer exemption associated with the project through May 19, 2017.
The draft permits issued include a UIC ‘Class III’ Area Permit for injection wells for the in-situ recovery (ISR) of uranium in the Inyan Kara Group aquifers and a UIC ‘Class V’ Area Permit for deep injection wells that would be used to dispose of ISR process waste fluids into the Minnelusa Formation below the Inyan Kara after treatment. Under the terms of the draft permits, waste injected under the Class V permit must be treated prior to being injected and must meet all radioactive waste and hazardous waste standards. Monitoring of the underground sources of drinking water surrounding the Class III injection wellfields will take place before, during and after ISR operations to ensure the underground sources of drinking water are protected.
EPA also is proposing an aquifer exemption approval in connection with the draft UIC Class III Area Permit. Specifically, this approval would exempt the uranium-bearing portions of the Inyan Kara Group aquifers from protection under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Such an exemption must be in place before ISR activities within these aquifers can occur.
Under its obligation to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act and under EPA’s Tribal Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes, EPA has been consulting and coordinating with several interested tribes to identify the potential effects of the proposed project on traditional cultural places and historic and sacred sites. EPA will continue to consult and coordinate with tribes as necessary throughout the public comment period concerning these proposed permitting actions.
The public is encouraged to provide comment on these draft permits and the aquifer exemption by midnight mountain time, May 19, 2017. EPA’s final permit decision will be based on an evaluation of comments received and a determination of whether underground sources of drinking water are protected. The draft permits can be found at www.epa.gov/uic/uic-epa-region-8 or www.epa.gov/uic/administrative-record-dewey-burdock-class-iii-and-class-v-injection-well-draft-area-permits.