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No evidence of approval by state, no announcement by Powertech, drillers can't produce permit

Posted August 1, 2008, Updated August 4, 2008



At about 7:00 AM on Wednesday, July 30, a landowner near the intersection of Weld County Roads 19 and 106 heard men yelling.  A few hundred feet away, workers from Davis Drilling of Gillette, Wyoming were starting to drill uranium exploration boreholes for Canadian company Powertech Uranium Corp.


The drilling is just northwest of three homes situated along the east side of the County Road 19 right-of-way.  Powertech paid $275,000 for the 80 acre parcel in March of 2007.


Over the next few days, local landowners asked the drillers to produce a permit authorizing the drilling.  One landowner was told he would be provided with the permit; no permit has been produced.  Another was told to contact the state mining office or Powertech's Wellington office.


Unlike earlier exploration drilling in the area by Powertech, the company has not announced the approval by Colorado mining regulators of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to Conduct Prospecting for the current drilling.  Powertech received state approval for an NOI filed in mid-2007 as well as a subsequent "modification" allowing additional drilling.  On December 10, 2007 Powertech announced that it had completed field activities for this NOI.


On June 24 of this year, Powertech filed a second NOI for more exploration drilling.  This NOI has been deemed incomplete by state mining regulators, who are awaiting additional information from Powertech before making a decision to approve or deny the application.  Allen Sorenson, a Reclamation Specialist for the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, has confirmed that the current drilling is not associated with Powertech's 2008 NOI application. 


In an August 2 email to a concerned landowner, State Representative Jerry Sonnenberg said the current drilling is approved under Powertech's 2007 NOI, designated P-2007-015.  Sonnenberg's information apparently came from state mining regulators.  As noted above, Powertech announced the completion of P-2007-015 nearly eight months ago. 


The only explanation is that Powertech filed a second modification of NOI P-2007-015 after December 10, 2007 and before June 2, 2008.  June 2 is the date Governor Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 228 which requires the public disclosure of NOIs as well as modifications to NOIs.  (Certain information on NOIs can still be designated as confidential.)


Unfortunately, an NOI modification filed prior to June 2 is completely confidential under Colorado law.  Of course, Powertech could choose to waive confidentiality and disclose the relevant records.  But as we have seen before, Powertech prefers to conceal its drilling activities from neighboring landowners, even when these activities may impact ground water used by local residents for drinking and other domestic uses.