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

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: October 2020
Date Published: October 2020

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

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Abstract

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) request 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 the North and Central Cells of the 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 UNC Mill Site boundary 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.

Based on its environmental review, the preliminary NRC staff recommendation is to grant the license amendment to UNC authorizing UNC to transfer and dispose NECR mine waste on top of the UNC tailings impoundment. The adverse environmental impacts of the proposed action and secondary alternatives are such that preserving for decisionmakers the option of issuing such a license amendment is reasonable. This recommendation is based on (i) the license application request, which includes the ER and 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; and (iii) independent NRC staff review as documented in the assessments summarized in this EIS.

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