Re "Judge recommends approving Utah tar sands mine" (Tribune, Aug. 30):
An administrative law judge just upheld the Utah Division of Water Quality's decision to allow the Alberta-based U.S. Oil Sands company to mine tar sands in eastern Utah without a groundwater discharge permit or water monitoring. This could pave the way for the first tar sands mine in the United States to begin operations, without groundwater monitoring.
The decision hinged on the question of whether groundwater is present, as the water would be contaminated by carcinogenic compounds that could move into our waterways. Why should any mining company get a free pass to discharge polluted groundwater purely because allegedly no water is present?
If the company discharges water, then water is present. That water may then flush the toxic substances into streams that lead to the Green River and eventually the Colorado, just as Canada's majestic Athabasca River has been relentlessly flooded with pollution from tar sands mining.
However, the Utah Water Quality Board must review the decision in September, and it will take into account citizens' comments.
Salt Lake City