United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Environmental Impact Statement for the Lost Creek ISR Project in Sweetwater County, Wyoming: Supplement to the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for In-Situ Leach Uranium Milling Facilities — Final Report (NUREG-1910, Supplement 3)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: May 2011
Date Published
: June 2011

Prepared by:
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Federal and State Materials and
Environmental Management Programs

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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 is protective of 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 requires an environmental impact statement (EIS) or a supplement to an EIS (SEIS).

In May 2009, the NRC issued NUREG–1910, “Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for In-Situ Leach Uranium Milling Facilities.” In the GEIS, the NRC assessed the potential environmental impacts from the construction, operation, aquifer restoration, and decommissioning of an in-situ leach (ISL) 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, the NRC determined which potential impacts would be essentially the same for all ISR facilities and which would result in varying levels of impacts for different facilities, and would require further site-specific information to determine potential impacts. The GEIS provides a starting point for the NRC’s 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 October 30, 2007, Lost Creek ISR, LLC (LCI) (the applicant) submitted a license application to NRC for a new source material license for the proposed Lost Creek ISR Project. The Lost Creek ISR Project would be located in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, which is in the Wyoming West Uranium Milling Region identified in the GEIS. The applicant withdrew the application and subsequently resubmitted it along with supporting documentation on March 31, 2008. The NRC staff prepared this SEIS to evaluate the potential environmental impacts from the applicant’s proposal to construct, operate, conduct aquifer restoration, and decommission an ISR uranium milling facility at the proposed Lost Creek ISR Project. This SEIS describes the environment that could be affected by the proposed site activities, estimates the potential environmental impacts resulting from reasonable alternatives to the proposed action, and describes the applicant’s environmental monitoring program and proposed mitigation measures. In conducting its analysis, 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. The 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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