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Federal commission asked to review proposed South Dakota uranium mine by company, opponents


RAPID CITY, South Dakota — A company that wants to mine uranium in western South Dakota and opponents of the plan have asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to review a federal board's mixed decision last month.

Both parties' petitions were filed Tuesday with the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which will rule directly on the petitions, the Rapid City Journal ( ) reported. Each side has been given 25 days to respond to the other's proposal.

A year ago, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board gave a license to what's now Azarga Uranium Corp. for the proposed mine near Edgemont. The license was put on hold after mine opponents, including the Oglala Sioux Tribe, raised questions about possible damage that would be done to nearby aquifers and cultural sites.

In late April, the board ruled in Azarga's favor on five of seven challenges brought upon by the tribe and Consolidated Intervenors, a group that opposes the company's plan to mine uranium using a method that involves the injection of oxygen-enriched water into the ground to free uranium and bring it to the surface. But it also said the company should make efforts to find existing drill holes at the site, and that the mine could put cultural sites at risk.

Powertech, which is now a subsidiary of Azarga, initially had the plan to use local groundwater to extract uranium from the Dewey-Burdock areas of Custer and Fall River counties.

Information from: Rapid City Journal,

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