Is the Centennial Project on hold?
Posted October 14, 2010, Updated October 18, 2010
For the last 19 months, Powertech has been trying to get approvals from the State of Colorado and the EPA to conduct a final aquifer pump test on Section 33. The test is critical for permitting and financing efforts since an earlier test revealed "relatively low hydraulic conductivity values for the production aquifer."
Because water pumped from the aquifer will potentially contain elevated levels of uranium and radium, disposal of the water has been controversial. Powertech has been pursuing two options: reinjection of the water into the aquifer, and discharge into an intermittent tributary of Spring Creek after testing (and possibly treatment). But efforts to gain regulatory approvals seem to have ceased.
Powertech has not communicated with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety since an August 7 request for a second 60-day extension to respond to issues raised in the Division's latest review of the reinjection plan. The DRMS has not posted a response to the extension request. (10/18/10 Update: Powertech requested a third extension on October 13. See request to DRMS above.)
Powertech applied to the EPA for an underground injection control permit, and a draft permit was issued on November 23, 2009. Permit-related documents had been posted on the EPA Region 8 website for months, but mysteriously disappeared from the site on October 7. According to an EPA source, a final permit decision is being deliberated by higher-ups at the agency.
Powertech obtained a wastewater discharge permit from the Colorado Water Quality Control Division in May, but balked when the Division placed conditions on the permit to store the water and test it for radium prior to discharge. Powertech has not communicated in writing or by email with the Division since an August 4 meeting with Division staff. At this meeting, Powertech officials offered to submit a plan for treatment of the wastewater and stated that a decision on a disposal/discharge option would not be made until spring 2011.