PROPOSED PUMP TEST ON SECTION 33 - WELD COUNTY, COLORADO
Updated April 25, 2011
Powertech announced its purchase of the Centennial Project uranium mineral rights on October 3, 2006. In an April 2, 2007 interview, Powertech Vice President Richard Blubaugh claimed that the company would obtain permits to begin open pit mining "before 2010". Around the same time, Powertech officials told Colorado mining regulators that permit applications for in-situ leach and open pit mining would be submitted "no later than December 2008".
As of February 2011, no mining permit applications have been submitted.
Before Powertech can submit any permit applications for its Centennial uranium project, the company must conduct one more aquifer pump test to measure the hydrogeological properties of the target aquifer and to determine whether there is leakage between the ore-bearing aquifer and overlying and underlying aquifers. Two previous pump tests were conducted under a notice filed with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety but kept secret from the public and nearby landowners. Pumped water was discharged onto the surface.
For the third pump test, Powertech submitted a request to the DRMS for a Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting (NOI) modification on March 4, 2009. This request included a plan to discharge pumped water with elevated levels of radioactive metals into an unlined infiltration pit. After concerns were raised by Weld County officials, local landowners, and state mining regulators, Powertech withdrew the request.
A new plan was filed with the state on April 14, 2009. Powertech proposed to pump 170,000 gallons of water from the aquifer, store the water in metal tanks, and then inject the water back into the same aquifer. The decision by Powertech to inject the water triggered a requirement to obtain a Class V Underground Injection Control (UIC) permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, Powertech must get approval from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety (DRMS) for a third modification of its 2008 NOI. The UIC permit application was submitted to the EPA on April 30, 2009.
Powertech's Pump Test Documents
Estimate prepared by Western Oilfields Supply Company dba Rain for Rent for Powertech's proposed Section 33 pump test, showing the cost to provide at least four metal tanks (approximately 20,000 gallons each) to store water produced by the pump test until it can be re-injected into the aquifer - October 22, 2009 (PDF 1,658 KB, 7 pages) The estimate contains various contractual terms including an acknowledgement by Powertech that the tanks may have previously contained hazardous wastes, that Powertech may test the tanks prior to taking delivery, that any tanks in which hazardous waste is detected may be rejected, that Powertech waives any right to make any claim against Rain for Rent once the tanks are accepted, and that Powertech shall indemnify Rain for Rent from any claims whatsoever, arising from or related to any environmental contamination or violation of federal, state, or local environmental or health protection laws.
Report on proposed aquifer pump test on Section 33
Posted May 16, 2009, Updated June 28, 2009
The photo (at the top of the page) shows a Powertech drill rig on Section 33, north of Weld County Road 110 between county roads 17 and 19. The site is about 7 miles northeast of Wellington. The drilling is authorized under a state Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting (P-2008-043). According to Powertech, the wells being drilled on Section 33 will be used to conduct an aquifer pump test to collect data for mine permit applications.
During the proposed pump test, water would be continuously pumped from the target aquifer to the surface for up to six days. About 170,000 gallons of water would be removed and stored for later disposal. Water levels in observation wells would be measured for drawdown, providing data on how much water can be transmitted horizontally through the aquifer, labeled the A2 Sand by Powertech. Observation wells in overlying and underlying aquifers would be monitored to determine whether the ore-bearing aquifer is confined or whether vertical leakage during mining is possible.
Pump tests are required to determine if in-situ leach mining is economically feasible and whether ISL mining is likely to contaminate other aquifers. The data are also used to design optimum wellfield configurations.
The purpose of the tanker trucks in the photo is unknown, although they may contain fluid for hydraulic fracturing of the wells. A hydrofracturing truck from The Well Improvement Company Inc., a Fort Collins firm, was seen leaving Section 33 on the day the photo was taken (May 5, 2009). Hydraulic fracturing is a form of "well stimulation" commonly used in the oil and gas industry to increase fluid flow into wells. A fracture fluid is injected under extremely high pressure to create or expand cracks in the underground rock formation. Sand or ceramic beads are added to the fracture fluid to prop open the resulting cracks. These "proppants" have a higher permeability than the surrounding rock formation and provide a conduit for fluids to flow to or from the well.
It is unclear whether Powertech is conducting hydrofracturing on these wells since little public information is available on the proposed pump test and related drilling.
(Note: On May 29, 2009, I received an email from a Wyoming driller who observed that the activity in the photo above could not include hydraulic fracturing because the well was still being drilled and because several more water trucks would be required to provide the required volume of fracture fluid. It should be noted that there are other Powertech wells on this section of land, and also that the Well Improvement Company Inc. has developed a "scaled-down version of the oil field techniques" that uses only 2,000 gallons of fluid.)
In fact, the company has not sought or received approval from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) for the pump test. Only a brief discussion of the proposed pump test was included in Powertech's March 4, 2009 submittal to the DRMS requesting approval of a second modification to NOI P-2008-043.
In its letter, Powertech simply announced that it would be conducting a pump test. The purpose of the submittal was to seek approval for disposal of the pump test water in an unlined infiltration pit. Since the pump test would be conducted in a part of the aquifer containing uranium deposits, the wastewater would have elevated levels of uranium and radium.
Because this wastewater might migrate into the shallow, higher-quality Laramie Formation aquifer, there are concerns about this disposal method. Concerned landowners and members of the public as well as Weld County officials submitted comments to the DRMS questioning the wisdom of this proposal. In response, the DRMS requested additional technical information from Powertech and directed the company to respond to the concerns of landowners and county officials.
Powertech's reaction was to withdraw the infiltration pit proposal and complain that the DRMS is not authorized to accept and respond to comments by local governments and the public regarding prospecting activities.
Powertech is now proposing that it would store the pump test wastewater in metal tanks and then inject it back into the A2 formation aquifer. Under federal regulations, Powertech would have to obtain a Class V Underground Injection Control permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
According to Valois Shea from the EPA's Region 8 office in Denver, Powertech has already submitted a Class V permit application. If the application is deemed complete, the EPA will review the application and prepare a draft permit (if it chooses not to deny.) The draft permit and a "Statement of Basis" will be released and public notice will be given. After a 30-day public comment period, a public hearing will be held. The hearing may take place in Nunn, Wellington, or Greeley, and could happen as early as July.
The EPA must review and respond to public comments. If the application is approved, a final permit is drafted and issued along with the administrative record. The permit is effective in 30 days unless appealed and stayed.
Presumably, Powertech must still submit an application to the DRMS for an NOI modification for injection of the wastewater. Whether the DRMS must approve the pump test itself is an open question.
Permit: Class V Underground Injection Control
Issuing Agency: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 8
Legal Authority: Safe Drinking Water Act
Status: Draft permit issued November 23, 2009. Final permit issued December 3, 2010. Permit appealed to EPA's Environmental Appeals Board on January 3, 2011. Final permit voluntarily withdrawn by EPA Region 8 on February 7, 2011 in response to two petitions for review.
"C.A.R.D. appeals EPA permit for water testing at proposed Powertech uranium mine" by David O. Williams, The Colorado Independent - January 10, 2010 (PDF 54 KB, 2 pages) “Powertech and the EPA committed to adhering to the highest standard in protecting groundwater quality and this permit falls short,” said Ken Tarbett, who owns the closest property, including a drinking water well just west of the pump test site. “Not unlike Powertech’s decision to sue over groundwater protections at the state level, it appears this company is unwilling or incapable of living up to their repeated promises to do everything necessary to protect local water supplies.”
Letter from Clerk of the Environmental Appeals Board to Peter Ornstein, Regional Counsel, USEPA Region 8 requesting staff response addressing Petitioners' contentions and whether Petitioners have satisfied legal requirements for obtaining review, or response seeking summary disposition - January 5, 2011 (PDF 186 KB, 4 pages)
EPA issues final underground injection permit for disposal of aquifer pump test water; Permit is subject to appeal; Colorado mining regulators must hire third-party expert to oversee and monitor pump test, and issues regarding storage tank history, freeze protection, and financial bonding must be resolved before pump test can be conducted - Posted December 18, 2010
"Aquifer mysteries hold key to effects of uranium mining; Tests could offer insight on potential for contamination" - Bobby Magill, Fort Collins Coloradoan - February 7, 2010 (PDF 34 KB, 2 pages) According to this article, Valois Shea, EPA Region 8 UIC permit writer, will not release the agency's decision on Powertech's final Class V underground injection permit until mid-April. Powertech submitted its permit application on April 30, 2009. A second draft permit was issued by Shea on November 23, 2009. Substantive concerns regarding the draft permit have been raised by members of the public and submitted to the EPA. If a final permit is approved, the decision can be appealed to the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board within 30 days of the decision.
Comments on Powertech's Draft UIC Class V Permit, submitted to the EPA on behalf of Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction (CARD), Information Network for Responsible Mining (INFORM), and Environment Colorado by Jeffrey Parsons, Senior Attorney, Western Mining Action Project - December 24, 2009 (PDF 65 KB, 10 pages)
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PUBLIC NOTICE OF UNDERGROUND INJECTION CONTROL PERMIT - Permit Number: CO51237-08412, Applicant: Powertech (USA) Inc. - Published November 23, 2009 (PDF 26 KB, 2 pages)The proposed permit is the second draft of a permit for a Class V injection well that will be used to reinject groundwater pumped during an aquifer pump test from the Upper Fox Hills Formation back into the same formation. The proposed injection well is located in the NE quarter of Section 33 in Township 10 North and Range 67 West Weld County, Colorado. The public comment period will end at midnight December 24, 2009. A public hearing will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Monday, December 21, 2009 at the Nunn Community Center, located at 185 Lincoln Avenue in Nunn, Colorado.
Email from Valois Shea, U.S. EPA Region 8, "announcing a 2nd public notice, public comment period, & public hearing for the Powertech Centennial Class V draft permit for proposed reinjection of groundwater from an aquifer pump test" due to the need to correct multiple permit numbers in the first draft permit - November 23, 2009 (PDF 9 KB, 1 page)
(Reissued) Underground Injection Control Program Draft Permit - Class V Injection Well - Permit No. CO51237-08412 issued to Powertech (USA) Inc. - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8 - Date Prepared: October 2009 (PDF 4,903 KB, 20 pages)
(Reissued) Statement of Basis for UIC Class V Draft Permit No. CO51237-08412 issued to Powertech (USA) Inc. - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8 - Undated but publicly released November 23, 2009 (PDF 2,805 KB, 10 pages)
Letter from Steven Pratt, Director of Groundwater Program, U.S. EPA Region 8 to Richard Blubaugh, Powertech (USA) Inc., transmitting reissued draft Class V UIC permit and related Statement of Basis and public hearing notice, and informing Powertech that any final permit issued will not be effective until 30 days after issuance to allow for a potential appeal - November 16, 2009 (PDF 415 KB, 2 pages)
Comments submitted to the EPA on behalf of Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction (CARD) and Information Network for Responsible Mining (INFORM) - Jeffrey Parsons, Senior Attorney, Western Mining Action Project - July 24, 2009
Documents provided by Valois Shea, Permit Writer for USEPA Region 8 on June 29, 2009
Permit: Modifications 2, 3, and 4 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043
Issuing Agency: Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety, Colorado Department of Natural Resources
Legal Authority: Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Act
Status: Powertech has not responded to the Division's fourth review of modification 3 dated March 18, 2009. On June 23, Powertech submitted modification MD-04 proposing surface discharge of pump test wastewater. The modification was approved by the Division but became moot when conditions of the underlying discharge permit were modified and strengthened.
Letter to Powertech Re: Addendum to Fourth Adequacy Review for Modification MD-03, Centennial Project Aquifer Test, Powertech (USA) Inc., File No. P-2008-043 - David Bird, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety - December 27, 2010 (PDF 154 KB, 2 pages) On December 3, the EPA issued a final permit to Powertech for a Class V underground injection well. The permit is for the disposal of water pumped from the Fox Hills aquifer during a proposed aquifer pump test. The pump test would collect hydrogeologic data needed to determine the technical feasibility of in-situ leach uranium mining in that specific area. In this area the overlying Laramie aquifer is cleaner than the Fox Hills, which contains elevated levels of uranium and radium, and the pump test may reveal that there is leakage between the aquifers. If this is the case, or if a required analysis of the pumped water indicates that it has become contaminated during storage, the EPA may not allow re-injection of the water. If re-injection is denied, Powertech would have to implement an alternate disposal plan. The EPA issued a news release on December 3 that included a statement that a condition associated with the pump test requires "an alternate water disposal plan should an EPA assessment of the confining zone show that re-injection is not protective of groundwater resources." What the EPA failed to mention is that the injection permit itself includes no such provision. In subsequent communications, EPA staff explained that an alternate water disposal plan would be required by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety but admitted that the "DRMS has not yet put into writing the requirement for the alternative disposal plan." On December 20, DRMS staffer David Bird met with Powertech representatives to discuss the pump test and "alternative disposal options." The addendum letter requires Powertech to submit a detailed plan for on-site water treatment and surface discharge of the pump test water. Powertech had previously obtained a surface discharge permit from the Colorado Water Quality Control Division, but the permit was modified to require on-site treatment after the WQCD was sent water quality test data showing elevated levels of uranium and radium in the aquifer test area.
Powertech's third request for an extension to respond to issues raised in the Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety's fourth review of Powertech's plan to store and re-inject pump test water (NOI P-2008-043 MD-03) - Michael Beshore, Senior Environmental Coordinator - October 13, 2010 (PDF 50 KB, 1 page) Even though the DRMS never granted a second extension to Powertech to respond to outstanding issues related to its proposed pump test, Beshore is back requesting a third extension. The reason given is that the company is still waiting for the EPA to issue a final Class V Undergound Injection Control permit.
August 10, 2010 Update - After running into regulatory problems with its new plan to discharge untreated, potentially-contaminated pump test water directly into a tributary of Spring Creek, Powertech employee Mike Beshore has now requested a second 60-day extension to respond to the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety's fourth review of NOI modification MD-03. The modification is for Powertech's earlier proposal to re-inject pump test water into the Upper Fox Hills Formation. The plan would require a Class V UIC permit from EPA Region 8 in Denver. Beshore claims the EPA will likely issue the final permit by the end of August. The permit is subject to appeal.
Request by Powertech for a second 60-day extension to respond to the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety's fourth review of proposed modification MD-03 to Notice of Intent P-2008-043 - Michael D. Beshore, Senior Environmental Coordinator, Powertech (USA) Inc. - August 7, 2010 (PDF 39 KB, 1 page)
June 28, 2010 Update - Citing the EPA's inaction regarding issuance of a final Draft V Underground Injection Control permit, Powertech permit chief Dick Blubaugh submitted a new plan on June 23 to Colorado mining regulators for disposal of water produced by the company's proposed aquifer pump test northeast of the intersection of Weld County Roads 17 and 110. The proposal, modification MD-04, calls for constructing a 1,500 foot plastic pipeline from the injection well southwest to an intermittent stream bed. The pumped water, with elevated levels of radionuclides, would be discharged into the stream bed.
Letter from Powertech proposing modification MD-04 to Notice of Intent P-2008-043 for alternative method (surface discharge) for disposing of water produced by a proposed pump test since the EPA has not issued a final Class V UIC permit for underground injection of pump test water - Richard Blubaugh, V.P.-Environmental Health & Safety Resources - June 23, 2010 (PDF 108 KB, 2 pages)
June 10, 2010 Update - In a June 9 letter to Powertech's Richard Blubaugh, state reclamation specialist Allen Sorenson granted Powertech a sixty day extension to respond to the Division's March 18 fourth review of NOI P-2008-043 modification 3. No word yet from the EPA on Powertech's final Class V UIC permit. Region 8 permit write Valois Shea said earlier this year that she anticipated announcing a decision by mid-April 2010.
Letter from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety granting an extension to Powertech to respond to the Division's fourth review of proposed modification MD-03 to Notice of Intent P-2008-043 - Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist - June 9, 2010 (PDF 46 KB, 1 page)
June 2, 2010 Update - Today the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety posted a letter from Powertech Senior Environmental Coordinator Mike Beshore. The letter, dated May 21, 2010, requests an extension of time to address issues raised in the Division's fourth review of Powertech's Notice of Intent P-2008-043 Modification MD-03. Under Rule 5.1.3 of the state mining regulations, if Powertech did not respond to the Division's March 18 review letter within 60 days, the Division may terminate consideration of the proposed modification. The deadline was May 17, seven days before Beshore's request was received by the Division. There is no provision in Rule 5.1.3 for extension of the applicant's 60-day response period. The Division has not posted its response to Beshore's request, nor has it indicated whether consideration of the proposed modification will be terminated.
Request by Powertech for extension of 60-day period allowed for response to the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety's fourth review of proposed modification MD-03 to Notice of Intent P-2008-043 - Michael D. Beshore, Senior Environmental Coordinator, Powertech (USA) Inc. - May 21, 2010 (PDF 32 KB, 1 page)
Fourth review by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety of Powertech's proposed modification MD-03 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043 - Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist - March 18, 2010 (PDF 716 KB, 5 pages) DRMS approves Powertech's request to use any storage tanks regardless of their previously stored contents. Tanks must still pass rinsate tests and Powertech must provide detailed history of previous tank contents (at least back one tank use event.)
Response by Powertech to the Colorado DRMS' third review of proposed NOI P-2008-043 MD-03 - Powertech (USA) Inc. - March 9, 2010 (PDF 268 KB, 4 pages) Powertech objects to the state's requirement to test tank cleaning water in addition to the requirement that only tanks previously used to store water (back one tank use event) can be used for the pump test. Given the testing requirement, Powertech requests that it be able to use any tanks, regardless of their previously stored contents, to hold water to be injected into the aquifer. (Presumably, this could include tanks used to store hazardous wastes, sewage, etc.)
Third review by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety of Powertech's proposed modification MD-03 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043 - Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist - March 4, 2010 (PDF 1,503 KB, 9 pages) In the third review, state regulators raise additional issues regarding potential contamination of metal tanks to be used to store pumped water that will later be injected into the aquifer. The DRMS will require that water used to clean the tanks be tested for total organic carbon, and for dissolved metals including arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, and silver. Depending on results of the initial tests, further testing may be required for certain volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds and for total petroleum hydrocarbons.
Comment letter from Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction, Environment Colorado, Clean Water Action, and Information Network for Responsible Mining regarding the state's ongoing review of Powertech's request for modification #3 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043, addressing Powertech's failure to publicly disclose data supporting its NOI modification request as well as data related to historic exploration drill holes, and reminding state regulators that Powertech does not have an approved baseline site characterization plan as required by the Mined Land Reclamation Act prior to conducting any activities, such as the proposed pump test, that may compromise, distort, or alter a baseline characterization - March 1, 2010 (PDF 228 KB, 3 pages)
Memo to File by Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety, documenting interactions with Powertech's Michael Beshore regarding a 96-foot discrepancy between documentation submitted by Powertech and a later survey of the surface elevation of core hole IN08-14-33 - March 1, 2010 (PDF 44 KB, 1 page)
Response by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety to CARD, et al.'s November 25, 2009 comment letter regarding the Division's ongoing review of Powertech's proposed modification MD-03 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043 - Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist - February 24, 2010 (PDF 62 KB, 1 page)
Second review by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety of Powertech's October 28, 2009 submittal responding to the DRMS' first review of proposed modification MD-03 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043 - Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist - December 2, 2009 (PDF 306 KB, 2 pages) The DRMS identifies several issues remaining to be addressed in Powertech's proposal to dispose of groundwater produced during a proposed aquifer pump test. Powertech proposes to reinject the water back into the Upper Fox Hills Formation. Among other deficiencies, the DRMS wants to know how Powertech will assure decontamination of the metal tanks used for storing the groundwater prior to reinjection. The tanks would be provided by a contractor that routinely uses the tanks for storage of hazardous wastes.
Comment letter from Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction, Environment Colorado, Clean Water Action, and Information Network for Responsible Mining regarding the state's ongoing review of Powertech's request for modification #3 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043, pointing out Powertech's failure to provide "critical data necessary to substantiate the assumptions and assertions" contained in Powertech's application materials - November 25, 2009 (PDF 1,011 KB, 17 pages)
Memo to File by Allen Sorenson, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety regarding "previously confidential documents transferred to public file", including Well Construction and Test Reports for wells drilled on Section 33 under Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2007-015 (five well reports attached) - November 3, 2009 (PDF 624 KB, 6 pages)
Response to Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety September 25, 2009 letter, including cover letter from Richard Blubaugh, Notice of Intent Completeness Issues Report, report from Petrotek Engineering Corporation, cleaning and inspection procedure for "produced water vessel", photograph and drawing of water storage tank, various maps including map showing abandoned exploration boreholes in vicinity of pump test, report on mechanical integrity test performed on proposed injection well, Well Construction and Test Reports and Well Development Records for 13 wells related to the proposed pump test - Powertech (USA) Inc. - October 28, 2009 (PDF 6,020 KB, 75 pages)
Attachments to Powertech's response to the DRMS' September 25, 2009 review, including drill hole abandonment report and estimate from Western Oilfields Supply Company for metal storage tanks and related equipment - Powertech (USA) Inc. - October 28, 2009 (PDF 476 KB, 10 pages)
Comment letter on behalf of CARD, Environment Colorado, Clean Water Action, and INFORM, to the Colorado Division of Mining, Reclamation and Safety, expressing concerns that Powertech's Modification #3 to NOI P-2008-043 does not comply with the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Act's requirements regarding baseline characterization, and that there are numerous deficiencies in the company's request relating to impacts to groundwater and the hydrologic balance at the site - Jeffrey Parsons, Western Mining Action Project - September 29, 2009 (PDF 1,729 KB)
First review by the State of Colorado of Powertech's September 2, 2009 request for approval of Modification #3 to Notice of Intent P-2008-043, finding that Powertech's modification request is incomplete, including 16 items that Powertech must fully address within 60 days, and stating that Powertech may not commence operations on the proposed pump test until all issues have been resolved and a bond has been submitted and accepted - Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist - Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety - September 25, 2009 (PDF 1,781 KB)
Memorandum from Allen Sorenson, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety to Jeffrey Parsons, Western Mining Action Project, informing him that Powertech had withdrawn modification MD-02 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043 which proposed disposing of pumped water in an unlined infiltration/evaporation surface pit, and explaining that Powertech had filed modification MD-03 which proposed temporary surface storage followed by underground injection of water pumped during an aquifer test - September 16, 2009 (PDF 69 KB, 1 page)
Request for Modification to Notice of Intent (NOI) File No. P-2008-043, Centennial Uranium Project, Weld County, Colorado, requesting approval from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety to "conduct an aquifer pumping test utilizing monitoring wells...and return the produced water back to the source aquifer" - Powertech (USA) Inc. - September 2, 2009 (PDF 1,917 KB)
Letter from Cheryl Linden, Colorado Office of the Attorney General, to John Fognani, attorney for Powertech (USA) Inc., regarding modification #2 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043, stating that assertions made by Mr. Fognani are incorrect, including his statements that members of the public should not be allowed to express their concerns to the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety regarding "prospecting" activities, that House Bill 08-1161 does not authorize the DRMS to hire a third-party expert to review Powertech's current activities, and that Powertech has not been conducting baseline characterization - June 1, 2009 (PDF 229 KB)
Letter from Allen Sorenson, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, to Richard Blubaugh, Powertech (USA) Inc., regarding modification #2 to Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting P-2008-043, accepting Powertech's withdrawal of the plan to dispose of pump test wastewater in an unlined infiltration pit, informing Powertech that an alternate plan to store the wastewater in tanks and reinject it into the aquifer will require the submittal of a new modification request, stating that the Division has determined that many of Powertech's previous activities are baseline site characterization even though Powertech's attorney insists they are not, stating that the Division will hire a third-party expert to assist with oversight, monitoring, and review of Powertech's baseline site characterization plan and activities over the objection of Powertech's attorney, and asking Powertech to clarify whether the approximately 14,000 water quality data points collected from eight samplings of 21 monitoring wells in 2007-2008 and other aquifer test results will or will not be included in a baseline characterization submitted with any future permit application - June 1, 2009 (PDF 567 KB)
Letter from Jeffrey Parsons, Western Mining Action Project, representing Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction and three other organizations, to the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, responding to April 14-15 letters from Powertech and its attorney, and pointing out that Powertech has not submitted an application for an alternative wastewater disposal method for its planned aquifer pump test, asserting that Powertech is attempting to avoid certain provisions of House Bill 08-1161, urging the DRMS to reject Powertech's attempt to exclude the public and local governments from commenting on pre-mining activities, and arguing that the DRMS has not reviewed or approved Powertech's plans for aquifer pump testing - May 8, 2009 (PDF 31 KB)
Letter from John Fognani, Fognani & Faught, PLLC, attorney for Powertech (USA) Inc., to Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist - Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety, responding to the DRMS' March 31, 2009 letter and asserting that Weld County officials and Centennial Project opponents are not entitled to intervene in the DRMS review of Notice of Intent P-2008-043 and related modifications, claiming that Powertech's past and current drilling activities have nothing to do with baseline site characterization and therefore are not subject to third-party review provisions of House Bill 08-1161, and implying that Powertech has not yet decided whether to submit mine permit applications for the project - April 15, 2009 (PDF 428 KB)
Letter from Richard Blubaugh, VP of Environmental Health & Safety - Powertech (USA) Inc., to Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist - Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety regarding prospecting notice P-2008-043 MD-02, withdrawing Powertech's request for approval of the disposal of pump test wastewater in an unlined pit, proposing the storage of the wastewater in metal tanks with later injection into the aquifer, and complaining that public comments were allowed to be submitted - April 14, 2009 (PDF 369 KB)
Letter from Allen Sorenson, Reclamation Specialist - Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety, to Powertech (USA) Inc. regarding initial review of application for second modification of prospecting notice P-2008-043 (to allow disposal of contaminated pump test water in an unlined pit), stating that the application is incomplete, that Powertech must provide additional data on groundwater and all wells within 2 miles, must use an independent third party reviewer, and must respond to each issue raised in objection letters from Weld County and the Western Mining Action Project - March 31, 2009 (PDF 486 KB)
Letter from officials of the Weld County Public Works, Planning, and Health and Environment Departments to Allen Sorenson, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety, commenting on Powertech's proposal to dispose of uranium/radium-contaminated groundwater in an unlined infiltration pit, pointing out the lack of key information needed to make an informed decision, encouraging the DRMS to require a lined disposal pond with appropriate disposal of residual solids, and requesting that the DRMS delay a decision until the County has had sufficient time to consider the proposal - March 20, 2009 (PDF 44 KB)
Letter from Jeffrey Parsons, attorney for Western Mining Action Project, on behalf of CARD, Environment Colorado, and INFORM, to David Berry, Minerals Supervisor, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety, contesting Powertech's request for modification of prospecting notice P2008-043 and citing deficiencies in information relating to impacts to land and groundwater - March 20, 2009 (PDF 566 KB)
Submission to Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety requesting modification to prospecting notice P2008-043 to allow construction of pit to dispose of water from aquifer pump test - Powertech (USA) Inc. - March 4, 2009 (PDF 5,303 KB)
Permit: CDPS General Permit - Discharges Associated with Subterranean Dewatering or Well Development, and Facility Certification
Issuing Agency: Water Quality Control Division, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Legal Authority: Colorado Water Quality Control Act, and Federal Water Pollution Control Act
Email from Gary Beers, Unit Manager - Groundwater, Land Application, and Industrial General Permits Unit - Colorado Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) to Janet Kieler, Permits Section Manager - WQCD, summarizing his August 4, 2010 meeting with Powertech officials Dick Blubaugh and Terry Walsh - August 5, 2010 (PDF 22 KB, 1 page) Powertech officials requested a meeting with Colorado water quality regulators after a water discharge permit issued to Powertech for its proposed aquifer pump test was modified. The modification adds a numerical limit for radium and requires storage and testing of the water. Additional water quality data was provided to the WQCD by a third party, triggering the modification. According to a source, Powertech officials "pitched a fit" after learning of the new requirements. In his meeting summary, Beers reports that Powertech will not decide on a discharge option (treatment/discharge or re-injection) until next spring. Apparently, Powertech is postponing the pump test until sometime in 2011. The new test is critical to the project since a 2007 pump test in the north project area indicated "relatively low hydraulic conductivity values for the production aquifer."
Email from State Representative Randy Fischer to Steve Gunderson, Director - Colorado Water Quality Control Division, urging the Division to stand firm on its requirements for Powertech to store, test, and meet a discharge limit for radium prior to discharging water from the proposed pump test - July 27, 2010 (PDF 20 KB, 1 page)
Letter from the Water Quality Control Division transmitting the amended certification for Colorado Wastewater Discharge Permit System Permit No. COG-603000, Facility No. COG-603162 - July 20, 2010 (PDF 21 KB, 1 page)
Email from Maura McGovern, Permit Writer - Water Quality Control Division, noting that the Division has modified Powertech's discharge permit/facility certification to require a numeric limitation for Radium 226 and 228, and to require the discharge water to be retained and stored on site until analysis can be completed and results demonstrate compliance with the Radium limits - July 20, 2010 (PDF 24 KB, 1 page)
Letter from the Water Quality Control Division to Powertech informing the company that its proposed pump test should be covered under a "general permit for discharges associated with subterranean dewatering or well development", and transmitting said permit and related facility certification - May 19, 2010 (PDF 26 KB, 1 page)
Certification under Discharges Associated with Subterranean Dewatering or Well Development - Facility Number COG603162 - Permittee: Powertech (USA) Inc. - Colorado Water Quality Control Division - May 19, 2010 (PDF 25 KB, 3 pages)
Application for Minimal Wastewater Discharges From Industrial Facilities permit, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment - submitted by Powertech (USA) Inc. - October 15, 2007 (PDF 229 KB, 11 pages)