United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Sequoyah Fuels Corporation

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1.0 Site Identification

Type of Site: Uranium Recovery Facility
Location: Gore, OK
License No.: SUB-1010
Docket No.: 04008027
License Status: Possession Only License
Project Manager: Ken Kalman

2.0 Site Status Summary

The 600 acre site is located in Gore, Oklahoma. Under Materials License SUB-1010, the Sequoyah Fuels Corporation (SFC) operated a uranium conversion facility but it has not operated since 1993. Uranium and thorium contamination of the soils and subsoils has been identified at the site. In addition, the groundwater is contaminated with uranium, thorium and metals.

SFC submitted decommissioning plans for the site in 1998 and 1999. The decommissioning plan proposed utilizing an onsite, above-grade disposal cell for the permanent disposal of waste. The plan proposed restricted release of the site in accordance with 10 CFR 20.1403 (the license termination rule). However, restricted release requires the commitment of a responsible party to act as a custodian of the site. SFC was not able to obtain a commitment from an acceptable responsible party, although it held discussions with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in that regard. In January 2001, SFC requested a determination by NRC whether waste from the solvent extraction portion of the uranium hexafluoride conversion process could be classified as byproduct material defined in Section 11e.(2) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended. 11e.(2) byproduct material sites must be remediated in accordance with Appendix A of 10 CFR Part 40. Additionally, sites remediated in accordance with Appendix A, that contain 11e.(2) byproduct material above specified concentrations must be transferred to a government custodian for perpetual custodial care. The custodian can be the State where the 11e.(2) site is located, but if the State declines, DOE must accept the site and become the custodian.

In July 2002, the Commission determined that most of the waste material at the site can be classified as 11e.(2) byproduct material. On September 30, 2002, SFC requested an amendment to its license to allow it to possess 11e.(2) byproduct material. On December 11,2002, the NRC amended the license to allow possession of 11e.(2) byproduct material and include several conditions necessitated by the change to an 11e.(2) site. One of those conditions (LC 48) required SFC to submit a site reclamation plan to NRC by March 15, 2003. SFC submitted its reclamation plan by letter dated January 28, 2003. The reclamation plan has been updated by submittals dated August 8, 2003, August 29, 2003, February 17, 2004, April 12, 2005 and January 4, 2008. Based on its review, the staff's final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published in May 2008. NRC staff completed its Safety Evaluation Review, and approved SFC's reclamation plan in April 2009. Completion of the EIS and approval of the reclamation plan are substantial accomplishments that have allowed progress to be made in remediating the SFC site. The regulations governing reclamation of uranium mill tailings appear primarily in 10 CFR Part 40. Technical criteria appear in Appendix A to Part 40. In June 2003, SFC submitted a ground water monitoring plan and a ground water corrective action plan. In August 2005, the staff approved the ground water monitoring plan. In June 2003, SFC submitted a ground water corrective action plan (GWCAP) The NRC staff reviewed the GWCAP,and in September 2005 issued a request for additional information. In December 2005, SFC responded to this request. In April 2008, the staff transmitted a letter identifying 11 open issues that need to be resolved before the staff can approve the plan. NRC and SFC staff held a telecom in June 2008 to discuss these issues. Although SFC responded to some of the issues in August 2008, its response to other issues requiring field work or environmental data was not submitted until June 2009. By letter dated June 18, 2010, SFC submitted a revised GWCAP that encompassed all supplemental information. In September 2010, The NRC staff completed its review and amended the license to incorporate the GWCAP.

In FY 2013, the NRC staff conducted in-process inspections of the decommissioning activities at the Sequoyah Fuels site in Gore, OK.  Remediation of impacted soil in the Phase III Disposal Cell footprint and removal/packaging of the Sanitary Lagoon sediments and soils was completed.  In addition, contaminated groundwater that was perched on top of bedrock in the Phase III footprint was recovered, treated and released.  The Phase III Cell Base construction was then completed and waste materials (treated calcium fluoride sludge, miscellaneous contaminated soils and demolition debris) are presently being placed in the Phase III portion of the disposal cell.

3.0 Major Technical or Regulatory Issues

There is significant groundwater contamination at this site which the groundwater monitoring and corrective action plan are intended to address. A hearing was granted to the State of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation on issues related to the reclamation plan proposed by SFC. Additionally, Oklahoma appealed, to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Commission's decision regarding classification of some wastes as 11e.(2) byproduct material. Oklahoma also petitioned for a hearing on SFC's proposed plan to dewater raffinate sludges that were in settlement ponds. Negotiations between Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation, and SFC were successful in resolving issues. As a result, the lawsuit was withdrawn and the hearings have been terminated.

4.0 Estimated Date For Closure

2018

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, February 20, 2014