Local and Site-Specific Factors: mining and milling uranium at Coles Hill
As you may know, BREDL is hosting mining engineer, Val Green, for a
workshop on the evening of September 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Olde
Dominion Agricultural Foundation in Chatham.
The workshop will be titled, “Local and Site-Specific Factors: mining
and milling uranium at Coles Hill”.
Val has asked me to contact mining opponents to find out what
questions you would like answered in the workshop.
The list, below, is offered to stimulate your questions. What
questions do you have? Please don’t hesitate to give me a call, or
reply via email.
What is dewatering of a mine?
What is the “zone of influence” for the neighbors surrounding Coles
Hill who would be at risk of losing groundwater during the active
In the South Exploration Area, the mining area will encompass the Mill
Creek FEMA flood zone and two multi-acre wetland sites.
How will these aquatic features affect dewatering?
Will they make it more difficult to dewater?
If so, will these difficulties increase the risk of ground water and
surface water coming into contact with the mine?
If yes, what contaminants might get into the local ground water?
What evidence makes you think the mine will be open pit, instead of underground?
Will Mill Creek need to be re-channeled as a result of mining in the
South Exploration Area?
If yes, where will all that water go? Which property owners will
receive it? How will the new stream affect their properties?
What evidence suggests that Coles Hill will be subject to acid mine
drainage? How would acid mine drainage affect the ecosystems and
human communities surrounding Coles Hill?
Can we predict the “zone of influence” for airborne contamination from
the mine and mill at Coles Hill?
Explain what happens when a mine is decommissioned.
When water is allowed to return to the mine at decommissioning, what
environmental impacts are likely to occur?
Will this water be contaminated?
For how long?
Will this contaminated water escape into the local surface water? Into
We understand that tailings must be dried out (“dewatered”) before a
tailings containment structure can be capped for permanent closure.
How does that work in a place with 43.8″ annual rainfall? If
evaporation is not a technique that will not work well in Virginia to
dry tailings, what other options exist?
How deep in the ground would tailings be stored at Coles Hill? If the
tailings are stored at a depth of 70 feet or less, won’t this be in
the groundwater? What risks would result from storing tailings in
groundwater for 100,000 years?
In the context of mill tailings containment, please discuss these concepts:
sealing original ground
sealing waste surface
collecting in underdrain prior to entering groundwater
diversion of surface water.
What level of active monitoring and maintenance will be required to
ensure that the tailings leachate is kept from seeping into the
groundwater during tailings storage? Who pays for this monitoring?
How long does it last? What is the cost?
If water must be collected in an underdrain prior to entering the
groundwater, what is the lifespan of such a drain? What happens if it
breaks or stops working correctly? If the drain fails, how will such
a failure be discovered? What steps must be taken to fix it? At what
cost? Who pays for the fix?
Can you provide a diagram to help audience visualize the concept of
“collecting in underdrain prior to entering groundwater”?
Will diversion of surface waters away from tailings storage sites
require massive reconstruction of the watershed? What impacts will
this have to the local area?
How successful will these tactics (listed above) be at keeping
leachate from entering groundwater? Or — what’s the % likelihood
that these tactics will work for thousands of years in an area of
dynamic water flow such as Coles Hill?
Discuss the “fatal flaws” for location of permanent tailings storage sites.
What is a “groundwater discharge area” and why is it a “fatal flaw”
for a tailings storage site? If the presence of a groundwater
discharge area makes a place unsuitable as a tailings storage site,
how will the following factors affect the ability of Coles Hill to
the Chatham Fault runs through both the North and South Exploration Areas
the Chatham Fault has many cross faults that run through it perpendicularly
water flows through the Chatham fault and through its cross faults
the general direction of water flow is west to east
at least a portion of the groundwater at Coles Hill originates from a
more distant area
Posted: July 24th, 2012 under Uncategorized.