The PJ Tatler

EPA strikes again

The EPA has pulled a permit for in situ uranium mining in Colorado.

The story itself is annoyingly clueless about what in situ (“in place”) mining is.  The way it works is you look for uranium salts in a deep aquifer — they tend to become concentrated by the way water moves in the aquifer, so they form concentrated bands.  In in situ mining, you drill into the aquifer and inject a mild acid — by comparison, Coca Cola is a fairly strong acid — which dissolves the concentrated uranium, and pump it back to the surface.  When you’re done you pump in enough water to return the aquifer to its original condition, minus the uranium.

My first real job was with a mining company that did in situ; they ran into trouble because EPA classified the water that had the uranium removed as “radioactive waste” because it still had a little trace of uranium in it; as “radioactive waste” it couldn’t be pumped back into the wells, even though it was substantially less radioactive than it had been originally.

Looks like the EPA is at it again.

At least count, as I recall, the EPA  objects to: drilling for oil, mining coal, in situ uranium mining, building solar thermal plants in the desert, and burning things for fuel.

You might almost wonder if there’s some common theme here.