SPINK COUNTY - Four of the five members of the Spink County commission have stated their opposition to a proposed drilling project in their county.
Last Thursday they sent a letter to the science organization behind the project, Battelle to formally say "no thanks" to the project that would have tested the area's benson block as a container for nuclear waste.
The Spink County commissioners have stated their opinions loud and very clear: they are not interested in having any drilling in Spink County. now the ball is in Battelle's court to respond.
"We've had this in our community for six weeks now, and we thought it's time that the public knew where the commissioners stood," says Dave Albrecht, the county commission's chairperson.
"The people are in opposition overwhelmingly so now they know their commissioners are also in opposition, along with the people."
The letter was also sent to Governor Daugaard and Heather Wilson, the president of the South Dakota School of Mines. The governor and Wilson have publicly supported the project that would allow the government to drill holes to determine if a specific granite inside Spink County is stable enough to hold nuclear waste. But Battelle says the waste wouldn't be stored here.
The group of protesters that formed to reject the drilling says they're ecstatic about the decision.
"We're very pleased that the four county commissioners that voted the will of the people had the intestinal fortitude to stand up and do what was right. that was perfect in our opinion," says Bill Valentine, one of the protesters.
Dave Albrecht says Battelle met with commissioners and laid out the benefits including $1 million for Spink County , and $10 million for the entire state. But Albrecht says, none of that mattered.
"It aint like we don't need revenue in Spink County, but it's not worth it," says Albrecht. "I'm sorry but the risk is too much."
Battelle says they've received the letter and are now weighing their options moving forward.
The Spink County commission wants to be clear that they haven't officially voted against the project because Battelle still hasn't filed an application to drill. The letter simply revealed county's stance. If Battelle decides to apply in the future then they'll hold a vote.