Press Release: Victory in Efforts to Stop Water Pollution by a Utah Tar Sands Mine

In the late afternoon of July 17, the Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, issued a permit decision requiring US Oil Sands PR Springs Mine expansion to establish a water monitoring program and compliance with EPA’s air quality regulations as conditions of the mine permit before the mine may process tar sands.

On May 18, 2015, Western Resource Advocates, representing Living Rivers, filed a protest of DOGM’s tentative decision to approve US Oil Sands expansion request without requiring water monitoring or compliance with air regulations. Rob Dubuc, Staff Attorney with Western Resource Advocates had this to say about the Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining’s conditions:

“The Division of Oil Gas and Mining’s requiring US Oil Sands to devise a ground-water monitoring program and comply with air quality regulations before the PR Spring tar sands mine undergoes a four-fold expansion is a victory for public health and conservation advocates. Hydrogeochemistry studies by Dr. Johnson at the University of Utah have shown natural springs are recharged from the area where the strip mine will be located. Additionally, tests conducted by the company show that diesel range organic compounds in the mine tailings will be thousands of times greater than the maximum contaminant levels allowed in drinking water. We applaud the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining for requiring ground-water monitoring and air quality compliance before allowing tar sands mining to proceed. Wildlife, hunters, recreational users and the ranching operation that rely on these natural springs can all rest a little easier knowing that the company must show how they will protect this drinking water. We look forward to working with the Division to ensure that robust monitoring serves as an early detection system before mining proceeds.

We were very disappointed that the Division of Water Quality, which has had this information for two years, didn’t take action based on Dr. Johnson’s study showing a likelihood of ground-water contamination. Thankfully the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining was understood the importance of this study and was willing to take action to protect public health and the environment.”