The EPA put on hold its original exemption for the northwestern portion of UEC’s Goliad Project near the Ander and Weser areas.
“We were very pleased with the EPA decision,” Blackburn said July 15. “We think that is one more affirmation of points we have been trying to be heard on for years. It is a slow process to be heard in this business, but it is happening.”
The EPA approved the exemption in December 2012. Goliad County residents with the help of Blackburn petitioned to the Fifth Circuit of Appeals in New Orleans. The court granted the EPA a period to review its decision and receive comments from residents near the approved in-situ mining site.
Blackburn and Goliad County residents provided enough compelling evidence for the EPA to withdraw part of the safe drinking water act exemption.
UEC has downplayed the EPA’s decision, claiming it won’t affect production.
“UEC anticipates no loss in production value as a result of EPA’s decision,” UEC spokesperson Matt Welch said. in an e-mailed statement to the Advance-Guard. “It is important to understand the limited area in question (about 10 percent) is temporarily being withdrawn, but not excluded, from the overall aquifer exemption.
“We plan to provide additional data for the withdrawn segment during the planned and normal course of mine development in the future. Our Goliad Project is proceeding as planned. We look forward to creating jobs and stimulating the regional economy while providing a safe, reliable alternative natural resource for America’s future energy needs.”
Blackburn said he was not surprised by UEC’s response.
“It appears the UEC’s major marketing plan is through press releases,” Blackburn said. “Of course, they would downplay it.”
Blackburn does not know yet if he and the Goliad County petitioners will drop the federal lawsuit.
“Prior briefing in the federal lawsuit will probably be lost and we will have to start all over again with the new decision,” Blackburn said. “We are trying to figure out how to play that. Trying to way different approaches is kind of where we are at right now.
“My focus right now is trying to understand what we have our hands on and frankly try to figure out a way to settle this stuff. Nothing of consequence has happened there so it may be back to the litigation.”
Blackburn said Goliad County residents will continue to monitor their wells.
“We are watching what is going on at the site as we get information,” Blackburn said. “I’m keeping up with apparent issues that are happening on site that I am at least hearing about second and third hand.”