Saturday, April 09, 2011

N. Arizona groundwater model embroiled in controversy

The Northern Arizona Regional Groundwater Flow Model is scheduled to be released by the USGS publicly on Tuesday but it's already embroiled in controversy. [right, USGS map of study area]

The Prescott Daily Courier reports that Prescott and Prescott Valley officials were worried about the model conclusions impacts on Big Chino water rights and turned to Congress.

"Then-Congressman John Shadegg of north Phoenix met privately with the USGS director in Washington, while Congressman Paul Gosar of Flagstaff posted a You Tube video of himself grilling a USGS associate director about the issue on March 2. Gosar represents this region."

All this maneuvering is drawing complaints about possible 'tainted science.'

However, the Daily Courier story doesn't mention the possible impacts of the USGS study on the Northern Arizona uranium EIS that is underway. The USGS report covers the 1 million acre area that is proposed for withdrawal from mineral exploration and development for 20 years. One of the biggest issues is the potential impacts of uranium mining on groundwater. The draft EIS was released two months ago and I have to presume that the BLM did not have the USGS groundwater study results to use in making their recommendations.

The EIS comment period has been extended 30 days to May 4, because some stakeholders needed more time to review the vast amount of data. What impacts will this major new groundwater study have on our understanding of potential uranium mining and will it be significant enough to affect the EIS process or decisions?

1 comment:

  1. The groundwater quality section of the Northern Arizona uranium EIS is a mess and needs a total rewrite. I have written extensive comments on that section and many others. The method used by the EIS contractors does not met the NEPA requirements for having a accepted scientific basis or being within the bounds of reason.

    Perhaps this ground water model can be used to determine the rate of flow in the R-Aquifer in the withdrawal areas and so give a time element for the transport of possible mine contaminated water. Having a estimate for the transport time would enable some estimate of dilution and attenuation of any contamination by mixing and ad/aborption. The current "model used in the DEIS is misused and the assumptions used are absurd.

    My extensive comments on the Draft EIS are available on my website for the Northern Arizona Uranium Project.