www.powertechexposed.com - a defamatory domain name?
Posted November 3, 2007, Updated July 3, 2008
In his letter of October 16, 2007, Dick Blubaugh, VP Environmental Health and Safety Resources, threatens to sue me for "defamation of the project" for using the domain name "powertechexposed.com". Mr. Blubaugh's reason for demanding that I immediately remove from publication and retract the domain name:
"Misleading. The domain of the website suggests Powertech has attempted to conceal facts related to its Centennial Project. Notwithstanding the fact the vast majority of the content of the site is readily available to the public, Powertech has held open forums to discuss the Centennial Project and permitting regulations require and ensure public involvement in the process."
It is a serious matter for a multinational corporation to threaten to sue a private citizen for defamation when that person is simply expressing an opinion about an important issue of public concern. It is obvious that Powertech wants to shut me up. To successfully sue me for for defamation, however, Powertech and its Denver lawyers must prove that I have knowingly and with reckless disregard for the truth made false statements that have caused financial damage to Powertech.
Blubaugh asserts that the domain name "suggests Powertech has attempted to conceal facts related to its Centennial Project". Let's look at a list of the information Powertech has not released to the public:
1. The details of exploration/prospecting activities included in the two Notices of Intent to Conduct Prospecting Operations issued by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety and the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board, including the location of test wells, well depths, pump test procedures, and whether uranium leaching tests will be conducted.
2. The names of the twelve in-situ uranium leach mines that key Powertech personnel have brought to "both mining and closure stages" according to company press releases. (NOTE: Powertech's June 12, 2008 Management Discussion & Analysis report contains the names of eleven ISL mines that Powertech Chairman Wallace Mays has been involved in the development and operation of, and six ISL mines that he has "successfully restored". No other key personnel that were in place during the time period these press releases were issued (mid to late 2007) have operated or restored ISL uranium mines, according to the report.)
3. Plans for extracting the estimated six million pounds of uranium from the southern half of the project. These shallow deposits, which make up over 60% of the total estimated uranium in the Centennial Project, are located above the water table and therefore cannot be extracted by typical in situ leaching methods. Powertech has already discussed building open pit mines with state mining officials and investors. To date, Powertech refuses to disclose its mining plans for this area, which is less than seven miles from the city limits of Fort Collins, Colorado.
4. The specific definition of "uranium ore zone" being used by Powertech officials in newspaper editorials, including the extent of any buffer zones surrounding the ore deposits.
5. The location of domestic and agricultural water wells located in sections proposed for uranium mining, and their proximity to the uranium ore zones.
6. Plans for ion exchange processing plants, including location, footprint, lighting, noise, and anticipated truck volume.
7. Plans for sand and gravel mining on Section 11, including estimated permit application submittal date, and plans for conversion to an open pit or "modified" in situ leach uranium mine.
8. Plans for disposal of bleed water, heavy metals, radionuclides, and process chemicals by deep well injection and/or evaporation ponds, including disposal well locations and depths, as well as number, size, location, and construction details of evaporation ponds
9. Sources for water to replace bleed water consumed by the mining process.
10. Details of proposed monitoring well system to detect "excursions", including distances from uranium ore zones, well spacing, monitoring frequency, analytes to be measured, public disclosure of excursions, and clean up protocols.
11. The sources for the following statements by Lane Douglas, project manager:
- No U.S. ISR project has ever contaminated drinking water.
- Groundwater in the uranium ore zone is already contaminated with uranium and other heavy metals and is not used for drinking.
- Project opponents have presented lies, mistruths and innuendo to gain momentum for their campaign.
12. The sources for the following statements by Mr. Blubaugh:
- The groundwater in the uranium ore zones is not used for drinking and likely never will be.
- It is already heavily contaminated with heavy metals and radionuclides.
In his complaint, Mr. Blubaugh goes on to claim that "Powertech has held open forums to discuss the Centennial Project". Powertech and its public relations contractors have held a grand total of one public event regarding the Centennial Project in the year since the project was announced. The July 19, 2007 "open house" in Nunn, Colorado, was hardly an "open forum". According to my dictionary, a forum is "an assembly for discussion of public matters; an opportunity for open discussion". One would expect an open forum to be a Powertech official standing up and explaining the project, and then taking questions from the audience. Apparently that was too risky. Instead, curious and concerned landowners were relegated to wandering among poster exhibits and asking questions of various Powertech employees and contractors. There was no formal presentation and no opportunity for attendees to engage in an open group discussion of the proposal.