The judge ruled in favor of UEC on the majority of contested issues in the permitting proceedings, but also recommended that the commission seek additional evidence to address some limited technical issues.
The rulings in support of UEC’s application are a significant development on the road toward final approval, a decision that rests with TCEQ and will be made in the coming months.
The additional evidence that is needed concerns whether there is water flowing at one of the faults. UEC will perform another test. The results will determine whether further examination of the area is required.
Also, Goliad County and groundwater district alleged during the trial that UEC had manipulated the results of the first of three rounds of water quality testing and wanted that round thrown out.
The judge ruled that those results would be included and that UEC must use the average values of all three rounds of testing as the final values.
Harry Anthony, UEC’s chief operating officer, lauded the ruling.
“We appreciate that the administrative law judge recognizes that uranium is a safe, viable alternative energy source,” Anthony said. “Uranium exploration and nuclear power are an essential part of our country’s overall energy policy and the Goliad project is a vital part of that effort.
“We look forward to submitting any additional evidence that is needed to complete the permitting process.”
UEC initially filed its permit application in August 2007 and has been the focus of a lengthy contested case process. Many Goliad residents who support the uranium industry applauded the recommendation.
Betty Jacob, a lifelong Goliad resident, said, “Uranium development has proven to be a safe process that will benefit our future, and this project will bring jobs and economic development the region at a critical time. It’s good for Goliad County, and it’s good for the country.”
Sidney Braquet, a fourth generation Goliad landowner, said, “I’m pleased to hear about this development. Our county government has wasted enough taxpayer money opposing this important project. The county budget is strained as it is just trying to make ends meet. Spending scarce taxpayer dollars fighting against economic development never made much sense to me.”
Not everyone approves of the ruling, or the procedure, for that matter. Raulie Irwin, a local real estate broker, chairman of the uranium research and advisory committee, and director of the groundwater district, said Goliad hadn’t received any notification of the proceedings at all except for a press release in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
“We haven’t received anything officially yet from our attorneys,” said Irwin. “We’re all disappointed. We thought the judge would see it our way.”
UEC is a Corpus Christi-based exploration and development company. The company’s fully licensed and permitted processing facility is located in Hobson. UEC currently has a fully permitted production facility in Palangana, Texas.
The Goliad in-situ recovery project is in the final stages of mine permitting for production. UEC also acquired land in Bee County earlier this year.