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Water Management Board

Water Management Board

South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Ground Water Quality Program
523 E.Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501
Re: Comments on Amendments to the Rules for Underground Injection Control Class III Wells
Dear Board Members:
The following are general comments on amending the rules for Underground Injection Control Class III Wells in which we give a recommendation for continuation of the Hearing. However, if the hearing is not continued, then we also will submit specific, detailed recommendations on many of the Rules and will present those as each rule is read.
First of all, the notice to the public regarding the proposed rule change which indicated a deadline of Feb. 20, 2008, with the hearing following on March 12th, seems to be in violation of SDCL 1-26-4-4, 1-26-5, and 1-26-6 regarding rule-making which states:

“(4) The agency shall afford all interested persons reasonable opportunity to submit data, opinions, or arguments, either orally or in writing, or both, at a hearing held for that purpose…” (Author’s emphasis)
“(5) For a period of ten days after the hearing, the agency shall accept written comments regarding the proposed rule, unless the entity promulgating the rule is a part-time citizen board, commission, committee, task force, or other multiperson decision maker, in which case the record of written comments shall be closed at the conclusion of the public hearing. However, the hearing may be specifically continued for the purpose of taking additional comments;” (Author’s emphasis)
“(6) After the written comment period, the agency shall fully consider all written and oral submissions.” (Author’s emphasis)

South Dakota laws are made to serve and protect the public including, and especially regarding any changes in rules. This deadline of submitting written comments more than three weeks prior to the hearing not only violates South Dakota law, but also denies those, who only heard about the hearing in the past three weeks, the opportunity to present written comments on a very lengthy document. In order to correct, what we are hoping is only an oversight, we recommend that the Water Management Board consider notifying the public that an additional time period of ten working days will be allowed for the submission of any further written comments. A final hearing to consider all comments could then be held at the next Board meeting.
The issues inherent in the rules governing Underground Injection Control Class III Wells are too important to the public interest, to the economic well-being of South Dakota, and to the health of the entire environment of this region to miss any comments that might lead to the best rules possible. Simply put, a very good comment might be left out if the SD statue for rule-making is violated.
Second, we are all aware that these rules are being promulgated to permit In Situ Leach, or In Situ Recovery Uranium mining. The problems encountered with ISL mining are the escape of the leaching solution, difficulties in geochemistry, precipitation of solids, waste water disposal, and high radon exposures. “At the Irigary ISL mine also in Wyoming, there were repeated problems of solutions escaping, site accidents and shut downs. The mine was abandoned in 1981 by the Wyoming Mineral Corporation (subsidiary of Westinghouse).” [Attachment 1]
Also, wherever ISL mining has occurred, the ground water was never able to be rehabilitated to its pre-mining condition, and the regulatory agencies had to change the standards to allow more contamination in order to stop the violation of standards. The Crow Butte ISL mine at Crawford, Nebraska, had 23 violations in 9 years, and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality proposed changing the standards, for example: “The limitations for arsenic, barium, and selenium are proposed to be changed from 1 mg/l to 5 mg/l, 20 mg/l to 100 mg/l, and 2 mg/l to 10 mg/l, respectively.” [Attachment 2] These represent a 500% increase in contamination! We do not think this is what the Water Management Board wants for South Dakota.
Third, with the understanding that fossil fuels have contributed so much to the warming of the Earth, speculation on an increase in the building and use of nuclear power plants has caused the price of uranium to rise with uranium being touted as the new clean energy. This is one of the selling points of uranium mining companies coming to South Dakota.
However, “Every stage in the process of supporting nuclear fission uses energy, and most of this energy is derived from fossil fuels. Nuclear power is therefore a massive user of energy and a very substantial source of greenhouse gases…when the energy costs of construction and decommissioning are taken into account, nuclear reactors, averaged over their lifetimes, produce more carbon dioxide than gas-fired power stations (per unit of electricity generated), until they have been in full-power operation for about seven years.” [See Attachment 3]
Finally, as a general comment, the effects of nuclear radiation have long been known to cause innumerable human health problems from cancer to birth defects to liver, kidney, and brain tumors. ISL Mining has many side effects that contribute to radioactive pollution of the water, the air, and the ground. “There is no safe level of exposure and there is no dose of radiation so low that the risk of malignancy is zero.” Dr. Karl Z Morgan, from “Cancer and low level ionizing radiation”, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Sept.,1978.

In your deliberations regarding these rules on Underground Injection Control Class III Wells, please make these rules with the health of your grandchildren in mind. Your decisions today will affect their future 10, 20 , 30 years down the road. Also keep in mind that with the changes that are occurring in the environment, with increasing weather changes, and with the penchant for longer drought periods, it is possible that water that is deemed unusable today, might be necessary for life tomorrow.
Submitted with respect by,

Charmaine White Face, Coordinator
Defenders of the Black Hills

Mission Statement

"Defenders of the Black Hills is a group of volunteers without racial or tribal boundaries whose mission is to preserve, protect, and restore the environment of the 1851 and 1868 Treaty Territories, Treaties made between the United States and the Great Sioux Nation."

Speaking about radioactive fallout, the late President John F. Kennedy said,

"Even then, the number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby who may be born long after we are gone, should be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward which we can be indifferent."

July 26, 1963 upon signing the ban on above ground nuclear tests