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April 18, 2000 - TEXAS URANIUM MINE POISONS VAST AQUIFER

On Verge of Bankruptcy, Company Will Leave State with Huge Clean-Up


Austin...A uranium mining project has contaminated the Goliad aquifer, the source of drinking water for the City of Kingsville, near Texas's famous King Ranch, according to documents released today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Texas PEER). The mining company, Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI), has ceased operation citing lack of funds and likely will leave state taxpayers with a messy and costly clean-up job.

URI extracts uranium by pumping mining solutions into the groundwater to free radioactive elements which are then pumped to the surface. URI's mining techniques have left the Goliad aquifer contaminated with radioactive and other toxic substances, including radium and arsenic. Several drinking water wells in the area have already been forced to close.

The Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC), the state's pollution control agency, issued permits to URI conditioned on the company's promise to clean-up mining areas. But TNRCC never enforced the clean-up conditions and, in fact, aggravated problems by:

* approving expansion of URI's mining permits in 1997 despite lack of clean-up in previously mined areas;

* ignoring repeated spills of uranium-contaminated water (with three spills in one five month period in 1999); and

* blocking attempts by Kleberg County and local landowners to force a public hearing about the URI permit.

"This type of ‘rip & skip' corporate behavior is tolerated by Texas regulators who tout their inaction as ‘common sense' environmental protection," commented Texas PEER Coordinator Erin Rogers. "There is not a grain of common sense in letting a mining company poison the groundwater and leave the taxpayers with the clean-up tab."




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