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Angostura Reservoir Management Plans

Angostura Reservoir Management Plans Call (605) 394-9757 Ext. 3004 for more Info.

Angostura Reservoir is located near Hot Springs, SD, and receives water from the Cheyenne River. The Bureau of Reclamation manages the Reservoir and is currently taking comments on their Recreation Management Plan. We are concerned that water flowing into the Reservoir may be contaminated with uranium and radioactivity. Our water samples further downstream show above maximum contamination from alpha radiation. If alpha radiation gets into your mouth, ears, eyes, nose, or a cut in the skin, then it can proceed to cause damage such as a tumor or cancer. Swimming provides a way for alpha radiation to enter the body. We hope the BLM will look at this issue in-depth, rather than just increasing more recreation opportunities. Please send comments by Aug. 31, 2008, to Ryan Alcorn, Bureau of Reclamation 515 9th Street, Room 101, Rapid City, SD 57701.
Comments on the Angostura Reserviour from Defenders of the Black Hills

Defenders of the Black Hills

P. O. Box 2003, Rapid City, SD 57709 Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

August 31, 2008

Ryan Alcorn
Bureau of Reclamation
515 9th St. Room 101
Rapid City, SD 57701

Re: Comments on Angostura Reservoir Resource Management Plan
Dear Mr. Alcorn:
Please consider our comments on the Angostura Reservoir Resource Management Plan as part of the National Environmental Policy Act process.
At this time, we recommend Alternative A - No Action due to the necessity to determine whether the water within the Angostura Reservoir is safe for recreational use.
The last water study that we could find on the Angostura Reservoir was completed twenty years ago in 1988-89. The document is entitled, Reconnaissance Investigation of Water Quality, Bottom Sediment, and Biota Associated with Irrigation Drainage in the Angostura Reclamation Unit, Southwestern South Dakota, 1988-89, U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 90-4152 by the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Since that time, much of the baseline recommendations used in the report have changed due to new information being available. A new water study for Angostura Reservoir is definitely indicated.
Although the levels of pesticides and other potentially hazardous elements need to be determined, our concerns arise from the large number of abandoned open-pit uranium mines and uncapped uranium exploratory wells upstream from Angostura Reservoir and within the watershed of the Cheyenne River in South Dakota and Wyoming. (See attached USFS Map - Abandoned Uranium Mines and Prospects.)
The runoff from the abandoned mines and prospects, more than 142 in the Black Hills alone, and hundreds more in Wyoming, eventually enters the Cheyenne River. The state of South Dakota, Department of Environment and Natural Resources reports that uranium is entering South Dakota at the Wyoming border in the Cheyenne River. Quoting from their 2006 report, Summary of Surface Water Quality Sampling in Western South Dakota for Uranium, Radium 226-228, and other Radioactive Parameters, Only one sample analyzed for dissolved uranium exceeded the drinking water MCL, and that sample was collected in the Cheyenne River at the South Dakota/Wyoming border This is upstream from the runoff from the more than 142 abandoned open-pit mines and prospects in the southwestern Black Hills which eventually empty into the Angostura Reservoir through the Cheyenne River.

A 1995 report on these Black Hills mines entitled, Rare earth elements at abandoned uranium mines in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota by C.J. Webb, A.D. Davis; South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD, and V.F. Hodge, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV; states on page 1: More than 24 abandoned or inactive uranium mines were known to exist on USFS property, in addition to those on private lands but adjacent to USFS lands, such as the Darrow Pits. Many of these mines are only a few miles from Edgemont and the Cheyenne River
Page 2 of the report states, Other common hazards at the uranium mines in the area include unmarked and unfenced deep open pits, open ventilation shafts, collapsed adits, and highly radioactive ore and waste rock. Uranium mining involved considerable disturbance of surface lands. Many open pit mines are associated with large amounts of overburden and soil. Disturbed surface areas of up to 0.5mi2 located throughout the region. Natural vegetation has not reclaimed most of these disturbances. Lack of vegetation has resulted in the erosion of many deep gullies in the soils No remediation measures were made at the time of the mining operations to prevent environmental contamination.
Page 3 continues: Potential exists for ground-water contamination of the local aquifer system. The nearby Cheyenne river is a hydraulic sink for the local, shallow groundwater in the alluvium. Surface runoff patterns, surface and groundwater quality, and flow patterns have been adversely affected by both open-pit and underground mines. No measures were taken during the early mining operations to prevent degradation of water quality. Surface-water runoff from the mines sites has also increased because of the lack of vegetative cover
The runoff from these disturbed areas are all located within the watershed of the Cheyenne River. Some of the water from contaminated aquifers from the more than 4,000 uncapped and unfilled uranium exploratory wells that were drilled beginning in the 1950s, also enter the Cheyenne River through artesian springs.
The water in the Angostura Reservoir must be sampled for Uranium238, other radionuclides, and alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Sampling alone for Uranium and Radium will not show the true picture of the water as there are 13 decay products of Uranium 238 and each one has its own form of radiation such as alpha, beta, or gamma, and some of them have more than one form of radiation. Marie Curie, the discoverer of Uranium, noted that these decay products are 85% more radioactive than Uranium 238 by itself.
Levels of alpha radiation, particularly for a recreation area, must be known. Although alpha radiation is stopped by the skin, it is hazardous to human health upon entering the mouth, nose, ears, eyes, or an opening in the skin. Anyone swimming in water that has alpha radiation should be warned of the levels in the water. Then they have a choice whether to subject themselves to the potential hazard. However, without knowing the levels of alpha, beta, gamma radiation, or other levels of radioactive materials, the responsibility will rest upon the governmental agency responsible for the safety and health of recreation users. Furthermore, new research indicates that any amount of nuclear radiation is hazardous to human health.
Our concerns stems from water and aquatic samples on the Cheyenne River gathered in the summer of 2007 at Red Shirt village which is downstream of the Angostura Reservoir. Our radiologic sample showed above maximum EPA contaminant level for alpha radiation. A sample of aquatic life showed only 2 crayfish and 10-12 minnows covering a 100 yard area at two sites.
We hope you will strongly take into consideration our recommendation to conduct a number of water tests of the Angostura Reservoir for Uranium, Radium, and alpha, beta, and gamma radiation in deep still areas so a true picture of the quality of water in this Reservoir can be determined, and the health of recreation users can be safeguarded.
Charmaine White Face, Coordinator

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