Residents discuss deep borehole field test at Midland meeting
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 12:10pm admin
We have no interest in future nuclear waste disposal,” said Kenner.
Answers regarding the deep borehole test in northeastern Haakon County were sought from RESPEC and S.D. School of Mines and Technology individualst at Midland’s Trinity Lutheran Church, Feb. 16.
A recap of RESPEC’s history and proposal were given by Todd Kenner, RESPEC president and CEO.
Kenner then outlined the five phases to the proposed Haakon County project. Phase one is public outreach, which is what they are currently doing. Phase two is a preliminary drill plan and more public outreach. He stated RESPEC and the U.S. Department of Energy have contracted only for those two phases. Should RESPEC win the project, then they and DOE would enter into a new contract for the next three phases. Phase three is a final drill plan, followed by drilling research in phase four. Phase five is lifelong site maintenance.
AECOM with a Texas site and ENERCON and TerranearPMC with New Mexico sites are the other companies seeking the final contract with DOE. Each of these companies has a contract with DOE for phases one and two.
Kenner said of the $36 million project, Haakon County and the state of South Dakota should see revenue of $11-$12 million of those funds.
Should RESPEC be given the go ahead, Manilla and Kirley roads will see an increase in width and depth. Drill cuttings would possibly go to the Philip city landfill rather than the Rapid City landfill as originally planned. They would also work with the Deep Creek Volunteer Fire Department to ensure fire safety.
Kenner noted that Governor Dennis Daugaard has given support for the research and science aspect of the project, but not storage of nuclear waste. Kenner stated that with House Bill 1071 bringing the legislature and judicial branch into decisions regarding nuclear waste, it would be a tougher law keeping nuclear waste out of South Dakota.
“We have no interest in future nuclear waste disposal,” said Kenner. His company is interested only in the research and scientific aspect of the project.
Bill Roggenthien, professor at SDSM&T, spoke regarding the drilling to get to the granite layer. He said not only do maps show it in Haakon County, but several test wells for oil and gas have noted the location of crystalline rock. Kenner stated that is one reason they selected Haakon County, as they know how far down the granite starts, its depth is known and the faults and fissures are there.
The first drill test is with an eight inch bore. If that bore is succcessful, the DOE may contract for another hole at 17 inches.
Jen Jones, Midland, question Kenner about the second hole and who would get the contract to drill it. She read a portion of the contract that DOE would have with the company, which noted a third party could have access to the leased land. Kenner admitted that it is possible a third party may get the contract to do the second hole at the site leased by RESPEC.
Jones stated she had gotten the contract through a source in New Mexico since RESPEC would not supply the copy. Kenner noted that he had wanted to get an okay from DOE before sharing the contract since they were a party.
Jones asked Kenner about a guarantee that DOE would not bring nuclear waste to the site in the future. Kenner stated, “That’s why we have the state.” Jones stated that she, as well as others, believe that for the amount of money DOE is spending on the project, they don’t believe the DOE would just throw that money away and not use the site. Kenner gave the example of testing on Avery Island in their salt mines. He said, while the testing was done there, nuclear waste was actually store in a New Mexico salt cavern.
Kenner stated that he is concerned about the safety of future generations in the United States if a safe storage solution for nuclear waste is not found.
Jeri Fosheim, Midland, hit Kenner with a barage of questions. She asked who would pay for the upkeep on the improved roads – RESPEC or Haakon County; why the change from the Rapid City landfill to possibly the Philip site; if they want to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) couldn’t they do it in another manner than this one; and if RESPEC would use money made from this project to support clean- up in Haakon County.
Fosheim noted that HB1071 is all well and good, but the governor and state legislature from the 1980s okayed the storage of nuclear waste near Edgemont. It took a vote of the people to get that stopped. “Don’t think you’re protected at all,” she said. She added that maybe it is time Haakon County looked at zoning. “We might need to look at regulating ourselves before someone else does,” she stated.
As at the meeting in Philip, audience members questioned why a DOE representative was not at the meeting. Kenner noted that DOE, “put responsibility into our hands.”
“We are asking the wrong people the questions,” said T.J. Gabriel, Midland. “DOE shoud be hear answering questions.” He noted it is a $100 million project for them, “Why are they not here,” he asked.
Byron Hand, Midland, noted Haakon County residents are the risk takers in this project without any rewards. “You’re a business,” he said, “We know your rewards.” He added that after the project RESPEC can step away, but the county and landowners are left with the risk of nuclear waste being stored in the county.
Shad Finn, Midland echoed those sentiments. He noted the county residents will have all the inconviences without knowing the positives. RESPEC was noting all their positives, and other than possibly some money for local businesses, what positives are there for the local residents.
Joel Kammerer, Philip, asked why not do the research in an area where the nuclear waste is already stored, or produced instead of hauling it around. Kenner said that there are 80 to 90 sites where nuclear waste is stored in the United States. “If we don’t change that, we will have an environmental problem.” He added those sites are not a long-term solution.
The third meeting is set for March 7 in Milesville. A meeting in Ft. Pierre will follow March 9.