By Bobby Magill
Fort Collins Coloradoan
May 7, 2011
Powertech now allowed to reinject water as part of testing
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reissued Powertech Uranium Corp. a draft permit Friday, authorizing the company to conduct an aquifer pump test at the Centennial Project uranium mine site northeast of Fort Collins.
The permit will allow Powertech to take 43,000 gallons of water from an underground aquifer and reinject it as part of a feasibility test of its mining technique.
The EPA withdrew the original permit, issued last year, because of a technicality. The new draft permit, an Underground Injection Control Class V permit, includes a re-injection pressure requirement inadvertently left out of the original permit.
"This new draft permit addresses recent public comments and clarifies specific and rigorous measures that will ensure groundwater protection," EPA Assistant Regional Administrator Steve Tuber said in a statement.
The pressure requirement will help ensure that water re-injection does not cause unnatural movement of water between aquifers, according to the EPA.
The draft permit allows only the reinjection of groundwater at the Centennial site. It does not authorize any uranium mining.
If uranium mining eventually is allowed at the Centennial site, Powertech plans to inject a baking sodalike solution into the ground to dissolve the uranium ore and pump it to the surface where it will be processed.
"One of the purposes of the pump test is to collect information about the hydrogeology at the (Centennial Project) location to inform the feasibility of ore recovery activities," EPA spokesman Richard Mylott said in December. "During the pump test, water will be pumped out of the aquifer, held for a time and reinjected into the same location in the aquifer."
Powertech has temporarily halted work on the Centennial Project, diverting all staff to the company's Dewey-Burdock uranium mine in South Dakota through the end of the year.
The EPA plans to host a public hearing on the draft permit for the pump test. The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. June 6 at the Nunn Community Center.