Last update:
2019-12-05

Struggles against in situ leach uranium mining, Black Hills, South Dakota, USA

Uranium mining is possibly coming to the region. Opponents argue uranium wells could leak and would contaminate the underground water, as in other locations. EPA's decision pending.



Description:

The Black Hills are an area  of the northern Great Plains, characterized by pine-covered hills, rocks, and fresh water that flows into underground aquifers to recharge groundwater across the region [2]. The Black Hills are subject to treaties between the State and the Oglala Sioux Tribe which reserved the right of the Hills's land [2]. The Oglala maintain a strong legal, traditional, and spiritual link to the Black Hills [2]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Struggles against in situ leach uranium mining, Black Hills, South Dakota, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:South Dakota
Location of conflict:Black Hills National Forest, West Pennington
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Uranium extraction
Specific commodities:Uranium
Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The proposed Powertech Uranium project would be located in Custer and Fall River Counties. It is known as the Dewey- Burdock project, and the site would cover over 10,000 acres (4046 hectares) [1] [2].

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Project area:4046
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:70,000 and a metropolitan population of Rapid City 125,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Powertech Uranium Corporation from Canada
Relevant government actors:Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Oglala Sioux Tribe https://www.lakotalaw.org/our-campaigns
-Black Hills Knowledge Network https://www.diigo.com/profile/rcgovernment/uranium
https://www.blackhillsknowledgenetwork.org/issue-hub/uranium-mining-in-the-black-hills-2.html#.Xea45ZNKjOQ
-Black Hills Clean Water Alliance https://bhcleanwateralliance.org/
- Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe http://www.cheyennenation.com/
- City Council of Rapid City (Votes No on Uranium Mining)
-South Dakota State Medical Association https://www.ndmed.org/
- Dakota Rural Action https://www.dakotarural.org/issues/uranium-mining/
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Oglala Sioux
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Proposal and development of alternatives:No alternative has been planned. The uranium project with one licence out of ten needed is under construction.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not issue the permission yet. Public opinion is opened until December 9th 2019. The tribes and other organisations continue their efforts and strong opposition. National support and involvement are needed to stop EPA from issuing final permits and to end this mining proposal.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Environmental justice analysis EPA
[click to view]

environmental justice analysis EPA
[click to view]

[1] Intercontinentalcry (November 2019): NORTHERN CHEYENNE JOIN BLANKET REJECTION OF BLACK HILLS URANIUM MINING PERMITS
[click to view]

[2] Black Hills Water Alliance: A STRUGGLE OVER A PROPOSED URANIUM MINE IN THE BLACK HILLS OF SOUTH DAKOTA
[click to view]

[2] Black Hills Water Alliance:

[3]

[3] Black Hills Water Alliance: WATER: A NATIONAL ISSUE
[click to view]

[4] OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE ‘FIGHTING BACK’ TO PROTECT BLACK HILLS FROM URANIUM MINE
[click to view]

[4] Intercontinentalcry (august 2019): OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE ‘FIGHTING BACK’ TO PROTECT BLACK HILLS FROM URANIUM MINE
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Ksenija Hanaček ICTA-UAB
Last update05/12/2019
Conflict ID:4840
Comments
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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