UEC’s process doesn’t take place 2 miles down. Rather, it’s dissolving uranium from just 400 feet to 800 feet down–not only from the same depths as groundwater but from the very same layers of porous rock that hold it. “By design it’s much worse than fracking,” says Houston attorney Jim Blackburn, who is suing UEC on behalf of residents near the company’s new project in Goliad, Tex. “This is intentional contamination of a water aquifer liberating not only uranium but other elements that were bound up with the sand. We know this process will contaminate groundwater; that’s the whole point of it.”
UEC argues that it is doing the environment a favor. “We’re taking out a radioactive source from the aquifer that won’t be there for future generations,” says Harry Anthony, UEC’s chief operating officer.
[...] for Blackburn, and the people he represents, the idea of a tiny company gambling a region’s groundwater on a market that may never appear seems nothing short of insane. “There’s no source of water here other than groundwater,” says Blackburn. “How can you mine inside a drinking water aquifer?”
And yet it is happening. Last month UEC received the last permit it needed: an aquifer exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency. [...]