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Dear Editor,

What is this "in situ" leach mining that uranium companies want to start in the Black Hills? The basic idea is to leach the uranium out of underground aquifers without digging it up.

The key word is "aquifers." The uranium is mined out of water-bearing rock. This includes aquifers that people and livestock use.

The company drills holes - hundreds of them for a typical operation. Then it pumps a mixture of water, air, and a chemical underground under pressure. The mixture is pushed through the water-bearing rock. It leaches the uranium out of the ground, and pumps it back to the surface.

It's all under pressure. So leaks are part of the operation. Common leaks "escape" from the mining area and end up moving through the aquifer. Or pumps break. Or the joints between pipes leak. Then radiation, heavy metals (lead, arsenic, etc.), and chemicals end up in our water.

It's underground, so no one can see what's happening. But the result is sure. No uranium company has ever restored the water in an area mined by in situ leaching to its original state. Never.

Stop the plan to mine uranium.

Lilias Jarding

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