GCGCD president Art Dohmann said at the Feb. 4 meeting that the GCGCD received information that three additional wells were tested in November and found to have high levels of arsenic. He suggested the new data be included in the letter.
GCGCD secretary/treasurer Barbara Smith said she would revise the letter to include the new information. The Advance-Guard was told it would receive the revised letter Feb. 5, but had not received it by Monday’s press deadline.
Smith also compiled two pages of information on arsenic from the EPA website to be sent along with the letter.
“I really don’t want to put a lot more in there,” Smith said. “I’d like to keep it to one stamp, if at all possible.”
Smith said “a little over 200” letters would be mailed out. The letters will only be mailed to landowners. Renters and other residents on their properties will not be notified by the GCGCD.
“That’s the landowners’ responsibility,” GCGCD board director Raulie Irwin said.
The original letter stated the GCGCD “received reports in 2012 on eleven (11) wells that UEC (Uranium Energy Corp.) was required to test in association with the uranium exploration (Channen Project) in Southern Goliad County ...”
The letter continued to read, “During the same time period GCGCD provided baseline sampling services to citizens in the area of the Channen Project. GCGCD evaluated the results of these water samples. The results of the tests provided by UEC for Arsenic showed that 6 of the 11 wells tested at or above the EPA standard of .01 mg/L of Arsenic in the water. The landowners of these wells have been notified of this and GCGCD recognized the necessity to inform the other landowners in the area of this situation.”
The original letter drew an immediate response from UEC spokesman Matt Welch, who asked why the GCGCD only mentions test data from 2012.
“The fundamental question in the mind of residents should be ‘If the Groundwater District has been in existence since 2001, why are they just now sending out letters to residents?’ It is unfortunate the GCGCD is providing important information only after public scrutiny of their inaction,” Welch wrote in a statement to the Advance-Guard.
“It’s also very troubling the GCGCD letter makes no mention of testing results prior to 2012 because their own testing data proves they have known about elevated levels of Arsenic as well as Radon, Radium, Chloride and Nitrates since at least 2006 and perhaps earlier.
“From our perspective, it is disingenuous for the GCGCD to imply that the elevated arsenic levels are in any way associated with uranium exploration activities and confined to southern Goliad County because elevated arsenic levels are found throughout the entire region and were present long before uranium exploration. Instead of financing costly legal battles that have been defeated at every venue, the GCGCD should be systematically testing water throughout the county and keeping the public safe and informed about water conditions.”