United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Environmental Impact Statement for the Nichols Ranch ISR Project in Campbell and Johnson Counties, Wyoming: Supplement to the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for In-Situ Leach Uranium Milling Facilities — Final Report (NUREG-1910, Supplement 2)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: January 2011
Date Published
: January 2011

Prepared by:
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Federal and State Materials and
Environmental Management Programs
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issues licenses for the possession and use of source material provided that proposed facilities meet NRC regulatory requirements and would be operated in a manner that protects public health and safety and the environment. Under the NRC environmental protection regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 10, Part 51, which implement the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), issuance of a license to possess and use source material for uranium milling, as defined in 10 CFR Part 40, requires an environmental impact statement (EIS) or a supplement to an EIS.

In May 2009, NRC issued NUREG–1910, the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for In-Situ Leach Uranium Milling Facilities (GEIS). In the GEIS, NRC assessed the potential environmental impacts from the construction, operation, aquifer restoration, and decommissioning of an in-situ leach uranium recovery facility [also known as an in-situ recovery (ISR) facility] located in four specified geographic regions of the western United States. As part of this assessment, NRC determined which potential impacts would be essentially the same for all ISR facilities and which would result in varying levels of impact for different facilities, thus requiring further site-specific information to determine potential impacts. The GEIS provides a starting point for the NRC NEPA analyses for site-specific license applications for new ISR facilities, as well as for applications to amend or renew existing ISR licenses.

By letter dated November 30, 2007, Uranerz Energy Corporation (Uranerz, the applicant), submitted a license application to NRC for a new source material license for the Nichols Ranch ISR Project. The proposed Nichols Ranch ISR Project would be located in Campbell and Johnson Counties, Wyoming, which is in the Wyoming East Uranium Milling Region identified in the GEIS. The NRC staff prepared this Supplemental EIS (SEIS) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts from the applicant proposal to construct, operate, conduct aquifer restoration, and decommission an ISR uranium milling facility at the proposed Nichols Ranch ISR Project. This SEIS describes the environment potentially affected by the proposed site activities, presents the potential environmental impacts resulting from reasonable alternatives to the proposed action, and describes the applicant environmental monitoring program and proposed mitigation measures. In conducting its analysis in this SEIS, the NRC staff evaluated site-specific data and information to determine whether the applicant’s proposed activities and site characteristics were consistent with those evaluated in the GEIS. NRC staff then determined relevant sections, findings, and conclusions in the GEIS that could be incorporated by reference, and areas that needed additional analysis. Based on its environmental review, the NRC staff recommends that, unless safety issues mandate otherwise, the source material license be issued as requested.

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