Members of three activist groups say recent research shows that abandoned uranium mines are contributing to elevated uranium levels in Angostura Reservoir in the southern Black Hills.
The research was recently published in the journal Environmental Earth Sciences by authors that included two South Dakota School of Mines & Technology scientists, Rohit Sharma and James Stone. The article is titled “Stream sediment geochemistry of the upper Cheyenne River watershed within the abandoned uranium mining region of the southern Black Hills.”
According to the Clean Water Alliance, Dakota Rural Action and It’s All About the Water, the research shows that elevated uranium levels at Angostura are partly caused by human activity, including abandoned uranium mines and a former mill at Edgemont. Elevated uranium levels at Angostura Reservoir are comparable to the elevated uranium levels upstream in the Cheyenne River watershed at abandoned mines, the groups said.
“This impacts people throughout western South Dakota,” Gena Parkhurst, president of the Black Hills Chapter of Dakota Rural Action, said in a news release. “The Cheyenne River runs along or through two reservations and five counties. It impacts agriculture and tourism. We need to clean it up.”
The groups cited U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that list 169 old uranium mines and prospects in the southern Black Hills, which was mined for uranium from 1951 to 1972. Few of the old mines have been cleaned up.
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