During its Jan. 7 meeting, the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District board of trustees discussed the potential lawsuit, which would be filed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Blackburn filed a similar suit against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in Travis County District Court after TCEQ granted UEC an aquifer exemption.
GCGCD President Art Dohmann confirmed Blackburn’s potential lawsuit at the Jan. 7 meeting.
“A request has been made, as I understand it, that the groundwater district consider signing on as an affected party, a participant in the suit,” Dohmann said. “There has been no contact from the attorney’s office. It will be up to us to contact an attorney regardless of what the situation would be. They have not solicited us and will not. I want to make that clear.”
Dohmann said the GCGCD would have to initiate contact with Blackburn to be a participant in the lawsuit. At the Jan. 7 meeting, the GCGCD board unanimously approved a motion to contact Blackburn to gain more information on the potential lawsuit.
“I think we owe it to the public to find what it’s all about,” Dohmann said.
Blackburn, who has represented the GCGCD in the past, notified the Advance-Guard on Thursday that he wasn’t sure who would be the plaintiffs in the suit.
“The citizens are raising a bit of money and I will (be) donating the rest of my time,” Blackburn said in an email to the Advance-Guard. “I will know more early next week.”
On Dec. 5, UEC announced that the EPA granted the aquifer exemption, which was the the final permit necessary to begin its Goliad in-situ mining project over a 1,421-acre area in the northeast part of the county.
UEC Chief Operating Officer Harry Anthony released a statement to the Advance-Guard after learning of the pending lawsuit.
“Our Goliad project is fully licensed and permitted for production and the company is moving forward towards operations here later this year,” Anthony said.
“For years, landowners in Goliad have been denied their private property rights and the ability to use their land as they see fit. Taxpayers in Goliad County have spent over $600,000 in this effort.”
During public comment at the Jan. 7 meeting, Goliad County resident John Caldwell urged the GCGCD to continue its battle with UEC.
“My wife and I, along with a lot of other citizens, have made substantial cash contributions to continue the fight to keep my water pure,” Caldwell said. “I hope that the groundwater district will do what they can to continue this fight.”
GCGCD Secretary/Treasurer Barbara Smith said at the Jan. 7 meeting that she has received comments from the public favoring the GCGCD participate in the lawsuit.
She listed Pat Calhoun of the Goliad County Farm Bureau and Goliad County Commissioner for Precinct 4 Ted Long among the several individuals urging the GCGCD to pursue the lawsuit.
Dohmann said the plaintiffs in the lawsuit will be “anyone who wishes to sign on.”
Anthony said UEC has passed all the permitting processes and assured the in-situ mining would not harm the county’s groundwater.
“Our proposal has been technically and exhaustively reviewed and approved by the Obama Environmental Protection Agency and the Perry Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,” Anthony said.
“Both agencies have concluded that uranium is a safe, viable and clean energy source and this project poses no danger to local groundwater. In over 30 years of operations in Texas, there has never been a documented case of groundwater contamination cause by in-situ uranium mining. UEC’s plan for uranium production in Goliad County means local jobs, local economic development and increased taxable valuation for the region.”