Environmental Impact Statement for the Disposal of Mine Waste at the United Nuclear Corporation Mill Site in McKinley County, New Mexico – Final Report (NUREG-2243)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: December 2022
Date Published: January 2023

Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) prepared this environmental impact statement (EIS) as part of its environmental review of the United Nuclear Corporation (UNC) application to amend its Source Material License No. SUA–1475 for the former UNC Church Rock uranium Mill Site located northeast of Gallup, New Mexico. UNC is requesting that the NRC grant a license amendment to UNC that would allow disposal of Northeast Church Rock (NECR) mine waste on top of the tailings impoundment at the UNC Church Rock Mill Site (UNC Mill Site). This EIS includes the NRC staff’s evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed action, two secondary alternatives, and the no-action alternative.

The proposed action is to amend UNC’s Source Material License SUA–1475 to allow UNC to transfer and dispose approximately 765,000 cubic meters [1,000,000 cubic yards] of NECR mine waste on top of a portion of the existing tailings impoundment at the UNC Mill Site. The amendment also would revise the NRC-approved reclamation plan. The proposed UNC schedule to complete the disposal of the NECR mine waste is approximately 4 years. As part of the proposed action, this EIS analysis includes activities that would occur outside the NRC-regulated areas at the UNC Mill Site but that are necessary to conduct the proposed disposal activities at the UNC Mill Site. These activities include NECR mine waste excavation and transfer and related supporting activities.

The adverse environmental impacts of the proposed action, Alternative 1A and Alternative 1B, which each involve the issuance of a license amendment to transfer and dispose of NECR mine waste on top of the tailings impoundment at the UNC Mill Site, would not preclude issuing a license amendment. This recommendation is based on (i) the license application, which includes the license amendment request, environmental report, supplemental documents, and the licensee’s responses to the NRC staff’s requests for additional information; (ii) consultation with Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies and input from other stakeholders, including all comments received on the draft EIS; (iii) independent NRC staff review; and (iv) the assessments summarized in this EIS.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, January 04, 2023