What is in situ leach mining?
In situ leach mining (ISL) is a method of uranium mining where hundreds of wells are drilled in a “grid pattern” over an ore body that is located in a groundwater aquifer. Water mixed with sodium bicarbonate concentrate is pumped down into the aquifer, across the uranium ore bed, and them up and out other wells. The mining solution is injected into the aquifer under pressure in order to leach the uranium out of the ground. The leach solution strips the uranium out of the aquifer. Along with radioactive uranium, arsenic, selenium, radium and lead are also extracted.
In situ leach uranium mining must be done directly in a water-bearing aquifer. Drinking water comes from water-bearing aquifers.
Water at an in situ leach uranium mine has never been returned to its original condition. Pollutants that have been left in the water at in situ leach uranium mines after “restoration” include toxic heavy metals and radioactive materials.
Just one proposed mine — the Powertech Uranium project near Edgemont — would consume over two and a half billion gallons of water during its lifetime. This is according to the company’s own figures.
TAKE ACTION NOW! The Environmental Protect Agency is seeking Public Comments on the permitting process for Azarga/Powertech in the Dewey-Burdock area of Fall River and Custer counties. This comment period are for the Class III and Class V Injection Well Draft Area Permits: