arithmetic average, arsenic, Azarga, Cameco, Canada, Clean Water Act, Crow Butte, EPA, gaming the system, groundwater restoration, ISL uranium mining, ISR uranium mining, low grade uranium mining, lying with statistics, mean, median, Nebraska, Powertech, Powertech-Azarga, radium, Rosatom, Russia, Sierra Club, statistical mean, statistical sampling, Texas, uranium mining, Uranium One, US EPA, US NRC, water, Wyoming
From Notice of Proposed RulemakingEPA-402-F-13-051, Oct. 2014
This proposed US EPA rule, which alleges that it focuses on “groundwater protection, restoration and stability” for ISL (aka ISR) uranium mining actually appears to follow the US NRC lead in manipulating statistics to make the water restoration requirements for ISL uranium mining as weak as possible. Comment here until Wednesday, 27 May:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;rpp=100;so=DESC;sb=docId;po=0;D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0788 Proposed Rule-Draft upon which to comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/01/26/2015-00276/health-and-environmental-protection-standards-for-uranium-and-thorium-mill-tailings http://www.epa.gov/radiation/docs/tenorm/proposal-40cfr192-12-31-2014.pdf
The following excerpts from the November 21, 2014 written supplemental testimony of Dr. Hannan Lagarry, Ph.D. regarding the proposed Azarga-Powertech uranium mine in South Dakota clearly lay out just how the US NRC-Uranium miners manipulate statistics. These are the same tactics which will apparently be used by the US EPA in their alleged groundwater restoration rules. To add insult to injury, the well-paid NRC workers are not doing their jobs, and so Dr. Lagarry and his students were forced to do it for them. The NRC only verified 34 or 37 out of 7515 bore holes, whereas they should have randomly examined approximately 752. The Canadian registered foreign mining company, Azarga (formerly Powertech)’s stock is worth only 34 cents, not to be confused with the 34 data points! Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) mentioned below is owned by the Federal government.
Dr. Lagarry states that:
“9. The NRC “spot check” of 34 data points does not provide a statistically reliable testimony or basis for any conclusions regarding confinement or hydrology. I teach various math and statistics courses at Oglala Lakota College. Multivariate statistics is one of the formal research tools required for my PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am charged with review of research students at OLC who frequently apply statistical methods in their capstone research sequence required for their BS in Natural Science. NRC Staff’s “random” analysis lacks the basic safeguards applicable to those who would rely on statistical methods.” (p. 5)
His rule of thumb of 10% seems to be in the context of this case. At least 50 of anything is required to start talking of statistical significance. The 10% random rule apparently applies above this 50 minimum. In the discussion below, the numbers vary between Azarga-Powertech had undisclosed information:
“10. The minimum number of data points for a statistically valid and meaningful sample is generally 10%. In the Powertech instance the minimum acceptable sample size would be a randomly selected sample of at least 175 borehole logs. Based on the recent disclosure of over 4,000 previously withheld borehole logs, the appropriate sample would be 10% of the entire set, or about 575+ borehole logs checked. NRC Staff presents no basis for its so-called “random” selection. Without such information, professionals in my field cannot accept such assertions where it is possible that the limited data set resulted in poor methodology that is the hallmark of modern junk science. Having examined only 37 data points out of thousands available, NRC would have failed my Math 123 Introduction to Statistics class. None of my student researchers would be allowed to publish or present their research findings had they made such a fundamental error.
11. In my experience and training, NRC Staff’s methodology is fundamentally flawed and the testimony based on the NRC Staff’s review cannot be relied upon for any legitimate scientific purpose.” (p. 5)
“3. On November 12, 14, and 15, 2014 myself and 3 student assistants continued to review drillers’ notes and borehole logs prepared by the Tennessee Valley Authority and recently disclosed by Powertech. This review was conducted at the Powertech offices in Edgemont, South Dakota.
The available data consists of paper files contained in 28 bankers’ boxes, 5 file cabinets, and 31 sets of mini logs (reduced to about 1/10th of the full-sized logs). Based on records I reviewed during my initial visit to the Powertech offices on September 14-16, 2014 these boxes, cabinets, and mini logs contain at least:
7515 total borehole logs
7454 known borehole logs prior to acquisition of the recently described data
3920 borehole logs owned prior to acquisition of the recently disclosed data
3075 digitized data logs….” (p. 1) “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION BEFORE THE ATOMIC SAFETY AND LICENSING BOARD In the matter of POWERTECH (USA) INC. Docket No. 40-9075-MLA ASLBP No. 10-898-02-MLA-BD01 (Dewey-Burdock In Situ Uranium ) Recovery Facility November 21, 2014 WRITTEN SUPPLEMENTAL TESTIMONY OF DR. HANNAN LAGARRY http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1432/ML14325A866.pdf ML14325A866 (Emphasis our own) See also: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1431/ML14311B006.pdf ML14311B006
The EPA page 118, further below, implies that EPA is following NRC lead. What they should be doing, instead, is using an appropriate statistically significant sample size, randomly selected or in grid form. For real protection, the number indicating the lowest amount of pollution should be used. Alternatively, they should use the Median average – half above and half below. Unfortunately we’ve nothing to tell us a 10% random sample of what. Who knows if the over 7,000 boreholes submitted by Powertech-Azarga is even sufficient? It would depend on geology and land area. There needs to be a clearly defined formula. But, one can suspect that there need to be a couple of thousand samples taken randomly, since that is the ball-park figure for election polls in America. Certainly clean-water is more important than guessing election results.
The issues are explained by a Mathematician, in materials submitted to the EPA docket, on behalf of the Texas Coastal Branch of the Sierra Club (Public Submission Posted: 04/23/2015 ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0788-0062)
(Red box added. While the above was written in a different context, it was submitted for this case and is clearly relevant.) See more here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/isl-uranium-mining-water-restoration-gaming-the-stats-us-epa-deadline-27-may-2015/
At first glance the following summary looks great and like the US EPA might actually be doing its job. But, even this short document makes clear that they are not. See for instance where it says “If background concentrations or ground water protection standards cannot be achieved, ISR operators can request an Alternate Concentration Limit (ACL),…“. This means that if they cannot restore the water they get an exemption. The alleged 30 year monitoring period gets quickly shorted to only 3 years! “the 30-year monitoring period could be shortened if monitoring data and geochemical modeling show that the ground water chemistry has been restored, has remained stable for at least three consecutive years, and is likely to remain stable into the future.” Who or what defines likelihood? The longer document makes it even clearer that they are playing games.
It is unclear if application of radium to the land is going to still be allowed: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/spraying-radiation-on-the-land-land-application-for-proposed-isl-uranium-mining-in-south-dakota/ It appears that it will be, however, since the final say for radionuclide exemptions rests upon the US NRC.
As explained in this docket, for radionuclides the EPA has no real regulatory power, it appears, though they can force cleanup of arsenic and other non-radionuclides, if they would do a proper analysis:
“1. Judicial decisions
Section 192.32 has been affected by a ruling from the
Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Under § 192.32(a)(2)(v),
NRC was required to obtain EPA concurrence for approval of
ACLs in groundwater restoration. This provision was
effectively struck down by the Tenth Circuit Court of
Appeals in Environmental Defense Fund v. U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, 866 F.2d 1263, 1268-1269 (10th Cir.
1989), when the Court ruled that NRC has authority under
AEA section 84(c) to independently make these site-specific
ACL determinations, and that NRC has no duty to obtain this
EPA concurrence. Therefore, today we are proposing to
revise 40 CFR 192.32(a)(2)(v) by deleting this EPA
concurrence requirement.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/docs/tenorm/proposal-40cfr192-12-31-2014.pdf