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(last updated 22 Apr 2016)
ADEQ issues revised draft Air Permit for Arizona 1 uranium mine:
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is still working on developing new, more environmentally protective air quality permits for three uranium mines in the Grand Canyon region.
The action comes after news broke late last year that elevated uranium levels had been measured in soils near Pinenut uranium mine, located 10 miles north of the Grand Canyon and owned by Energy Fuels Resources. In response, ADEQ decided to suspend its work on air quality permit renewals for all four uranium mines operated by Energy Fuels Resources.
ADEQ is now working to complete drafts of the new air quality permits for public review and comment. The revisions include faster execution of enhanced dust control measures if elevated uranium or radium levels are detected and extensive changes to the required soil sampling and radiation survey plan to mitigate potential impacts from high wind.
The state department will host public hearings on the new draft permits in Flagstaff, Tuba City and Fredonia, which it hopes to begin in early summer. (Arizona Daily Sun Apr. 15, 2016)
> Download: Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. Draft Permit No. 59874 , March 23, 2016 (398k PDF)
Northern Arizona 'Zombie Mine' Petition calls for reform of uranium mining regulations on public lands:
> View here
ADEQ invites comment on proposed Air Permit renewal for Arizona 1 uranium mine:
Submit comments by August 21, 2014.
> Download: Public Notice ·Draft Permit ·Technical Support Document (PDF - ADEQ)
Mining at Arizona 1 mine to cease due to depletion of resources: Subject to the results of additional underground drilling, mining at the Arizona 1 mine is expected to cease in early FY-2014 due to the depletion of its known resources. (Energy Fuels Inc. Nov. 14, 2013)
Court dismisses appeal against reopening of Arizona 1 uranium mine: A federal appeals court has ruled against conservationists and tribes in their challenge of a uranium mine north of the Grand Canyon. The group had sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, alleging the agency relied on an outdated and inadequate environmental analysis in allowing the Arizona 1 Mine to resume operation. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday (Feb. 4) that the BLM hasn't made any decisions that would trigger a new analysis and that the 1988 operation plan allows for temporary closures. (AP Feb. 3, 2013)
Appeal challenges Arizona 1 uranium mine threatening Grand Canyon:
On Nov. 28, 2011, Conservation groups and American Indian tribes filed an appeal in the 9th Circuit Court challenging a lower court ruling that allowed a uranium mine near Grand Canyon National Park to re-open without updating decades-old environmental reviews. The Arizona 1 uranium mine is located near Kanab Creek immediately north of Grand Canyon National Park.
In 2010, conservation groups and tribes sued the Bureau of Land Management for failing to modernize 23-year-old mining plans and environmental reviews prior to allowing Denison Mines to resume uranium mining after the mine was shuttered in 1992. A federal judge in Phoenix this fall sided with the Bureau and the uranium industry saying no new plans or reviews were needed, prompting today's appeal.
The Arizona 1 is one of four existing uranium mines located in Grand Canyon's 1-million-acre watershed where the Obama administration has proposed a 20-year ban on new mining claims and uranium development on existing claims lacking valid existing rights. A final environmental impact statement was issued for the 1-million acre ban in October; a decision finalizing those protections could come as early as today. (Center for Biological Diversity Nov. 28, 2011)
Reopened Arizona 1 uranium mine largely left to regulate itself:
Denison Mines began hauling ore out of the first and only uranium mine to reopen so far, 35 miles southwest of Fredonia, in December 2009.
State environmental inspectors didn't arrive for a first inspection at the mine until it had already been open for about nine months.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) had unfilled requests for documents and inspections by engineers that it sought before the mine opened.
Mine operators set to work without answering some of these requests.
The first inspection at the mine came in September, and ADEQ inspected at the ground level only, not traveling into the mine that reaches more than 1,252 feet below. Nevertheless, the inspection yielded what ADEQ deemed four "major violations."
Arizona 1 uranium mine operating illegally, EPA says:
A uranium mine north of the Grand Canyon is operating in violation of the law, and its owner could face thousands of dollars in fines as a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.
The agency issued a notice of violation this week to Denison Mines Corp. for its Arizona 1 Mine, which is about 20 miles from the Grand Canyon's northern border.
The EPA said Denison failed to notify the agency as to when it would resume mining and that it did not secure the necessary federal approval before ventilating the mine or testing emissions.
Denison President Ron Hochstein said Tuesday (May 4) that he was surprised by the notice and believed the company was operating within the law. He said he was working with regulators to address those issues. (AP May 5, 2010)
> View older issues
Energy Fuels closes Pinenut mine for good, after increased uranium level found in soil nearby: [The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality] reported that Energy Fuels Resources has ceased operations at Pinenut mine and transported all uranium ore to milling operations in Utah. The company is therefore no longer seeking to renew its air quality permit for that location. Permanent closure of the Pinenut mine is a long-term process and will require working with multiple agencies. (Arizona Daily Sun Apr. 15, 2016)
Renewal process for air-pollution permit of three Grand Canyon mines suspended, as fourfold increased uranium level found in soil near Pinenut mine:
State environmental officials have suspended the air-pollution permit renewal process for three uranium mines near the Grand Canyon. Recent tests showed uranium content in the soil near one of the mines is four times higher than previously measured. Arizona Public Radio's Ryan Heinsius reports.
The tests were conducted in July and October outside the perimeter of the Pinenut Mine facility. The analysis showed uranium in the soil at one out of the five testing sites had spiked since 2011 when the mine reopened.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality says the elevated level of the radioactive metal doesn't present an immediate public health risk. But the agency has pushed the mines' owner, Energy Fuels Resources, to boost measures to control radioactive dust. ADEQ has also mandated that the company expand soil testing in the area.
ADEQ is considering the renewal of air-pollution permits for all three mines, but will suspend that process as it evaluates the company's new dust-control plan at the Pinenut Mine. The agency will eventually open a new public comment period and hold meetings for the permit renewals. (KNAU Arizona Public Radio Dec. 30, 2015)
ADEQ proposes to issue Air Quality Control Renewal Permit for Pinenut mine:
Submit comments by January 4, 2015.
> Download ADEQ Public Notice, Dec. 2, 2015 (PDF)
> Download Draft Permit (PDF)
> Download Draft Technical Support Document (PDF)
Conservation groups urge BLM to suspend Pinenut uranium mine in response to groundwater contamination:
Conservation groups have sent a letter urging federal regulators to suspend operations at a uranium mine near the Grand Canyon, where millions of gallons of uranium-laced groundwater threaten people and wildlife. Records from the U.S. Geological Survey show that the contaminated groundwater -- 80 times the limit set to protect public health and the environment -- have inundated the Pinenut uranium mine immediately north of Grand Canyon National Park. It is unknown whether deep aquifers and nearby springs in the national park are also being polluted.
> View Grand Canyon Trust release Aug. 4, 2014
Pinenut uranium mine to continue operation into 2015: On Apr. 23, 2014, Energy Fuels announced that it has revised its previous guidance and currently expects to continue mining at its 100% owned Pinenut Mine through 2014 and into the 1st quarter of 2015.
Pinenut mine to be placed on care and maintenance due to market conditions: Mining at the Pinenut mine is expected to continue into the middle of FY-2014 (July 2014), at which point the mine is expected to be placed on care and maintenance. Re-starting mining activities at Pinenut would be evaluated in the context of business and market conditions, including the U3O8 price environment. (Energy Fuels Inc. Nov. 14, 2013)
Energy Fuels Incorporated proposes to open the Pinenut Mine in Mohave County late this month or in early June, according to a statement from the Bureau of Land Management. (Arizona Daily Sun May 9, 2013)
The state Department of Environmental Quality approved an air quality permit for Denison's Pinenut mine this week. (Arizona Republic Mar. 11, 2011)
On Nov. 12, 2010, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality started the public comment period for the proposed air quality permit for the Pinenut mine. Comment period ends January 14, 2011.
> View ADEQ public notice
On Sept. 1, 2009, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued a Discharge Authorization for the 3.04 General Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) 100300 for the Pinenut Mine to Denison Mines (USA) Corp.
> View details (AZDEQ)
On June 19, 2009, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) issued a public notice opening the public comment period on the Water Quality General Aquifer Protection Permit for Denison Mines Corp.'s Pinenut mine.
Comment period ends July 22, 2009.
> Download ADEQ notice and documents (select "Public Notices, Meetings and Hearings")
Denison Mines has been denied a state permit for the reopening of the Pinenut mine:
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said Denison Mines proposed using outdated, 20-year-old liners and impoundment ponds to capture uranium mine-related runoff. In addition, ADEQ said Denison wasn't specific enough in describing pollution-control measures at the proposed mines.
(Arizona Daily Sun May 14, 2008)
> View mine details
> View decommissioning issues
> View NRC page
Uranium mining at Crow Butte is being opposed by Save Crow Butte
> Download Complaint and Consent Decree May 23, 2008 (NE DEQ)
NRC Board to hold evidentiary hearing on intervenors' contentions against license renewal for Crow Butte uranium ISL mine:
The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board gives notice that it will convene an evidentiary hearing (beginning on Aug. 24, 2015) to receive testimony and exhibits regarding the contested application of Crow Butte Resources, Inc. before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking a renewal of its license to operate an in-situ uranium leach recovery (ISL) facility near Crawford, Nebraska. The Board also hereby gives notice that it will accept written limited appearance statements from members of the public regarding the License Renewal Application.
Written limited appearance statements may be submitted by August 28, 2015.
> Download: NRC news release Aug. 6, 2015 (PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 80, Number 137 (Friday, July 17, 2015) p. 42552-42554 (download full text )
> Access related documents: Crow Butte Resources Site (NRC)
NRC renews license for Crow Butte uranium ISL mine:
On Nov. 6, 2014, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that it has renewed Crow Butte Resources Inc.'s license to operate an in situ uranium recovery facility in Crawford, Neb., for an additional 10 years. The license now has an expiration date of Nov. 5, 2024.
> Download NRC release Nov. 6, 2014 (PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 79, Number 221 (Monday, November 17, 2014) p. 68490-68491 (download full text )
NRC issues Final Environmental Assessment and finding of no significant
impact for license renewal of Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine:
NRC staff has determined that renewal of NRC license SUA-1534, which would authorize continued operation of the Crow Butte facility in Crawford, Nebraska for a period of up to 10 years will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.
> Federal Register Volume 79, Number 210 (Thursday, October 30, 2014) p. 64629-64631 (download full text )
> Download Final Environmental Assessment For The License Renewal Of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission License No. SUA–1534, October 2014
> Access Docket ID NRC-2008-0208
NRC issues Safety Evaluation Report on license renewal of Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine:
On Dec. 28, 2012, NRC released the Safety Evaluation Report on the license renewal of the Crow Butte uranium ISL mine:
> Download Safety Evaluation Report License Renewal of the Crow Butte Resources ISR Facility, December 2012
On Aug. 18, 2014, NRC released a revised Safety Evaluation Report on the license renewal of the Crow Butte uranium ISL mine:
> Download Safety Evaluation Report (Revised), License Renewal of the Crow Butte Resources ISR Facility Dawes County, Nebraska Materials License No. SUA-1534, August 2014
NRC issues draft of license renewal for Crow Butte uranium ISL mine:
> Download NRC cover letter May 23, 2011
> Download NRC draft source material license
On Aug. 11, 2011, NRC released another draft of the license renewal for the Crow Butte uranium ISL mine:
> Download NRC cover letter August 11, 2011
> Download NRC draft source material license
On Nov. 15, 2012, NRC released another draft of the license renewal for the Crow Butte uranium ISL mine:
> Download NRC cover letter August 11, 2011
> Download NRC draft source material license
Geologist raises concern over potential groundwater contamination at Crow Butte uranium ISL mine: Hannan LaGarry, a Chadron State geology instructor, said the Crow Butte mine has ignored recent studies that show faults and fractures in underground layers of rock that could carry contaminants to aquifers used for drinking and livestock. LaGarry said he's not opposed to uranium mining but is concerned that the mine is relying on outdated studies of underground rock. "In recent years, we've found that the assumptions made by previous workers were false and that newer detailed work shows a different story," he said. (Omaha World-Herald Dec. 14, 2008)
> See also: Expert opinion regarding ISL mining in Dawes County, Nebraska , by Hannan E. LaGarry, Ph. D., July 2008
Opponents to license renewal of Crow Butte uranium-mine granted hearing: Opponents of a uranium mine at Crawford, Neb., that is seeking to renew its license have been granted a hearing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to voice environmental concerns. The commission has ruled in favor of granting a public hearing on several contentions raised by the Oglala Sioux Tribe; a tribal environmental group; seven individuals; and a northwest Nebraska environmental group, the Western Resources Council. The hearings likely would be held next spring, a commission spokesman said. (Omaha World-Herald Nov. 25, 2008)
NRC announces establishment of Atomic Safety and Licensing Board for license renewal of Crow Butte uranium ISL mine: This proceeding involves a license amendment application from Crow Butte Resources, Inc. seeking a 10-year renewal of its Source Materials License for the in situ leach uranium recovery facility located in Crawford, Nebraska. In response to a May 27, 2008 Notice of Opportunity for Hearing (73 FR 30426), petitions to intervene and requests for hearing have been submitted by (1) Elizabeth Lorina and Mario Gonzales representing the Oglala Sioux Tribe, (2) Shane Robinson and David Frankel representing multiple individuals and multiple organizations, and (3) Thomas J. Ballanco representing the Oglala Delegation of the Great Sioux Nation Treaty Council.
Federal Register: August 21, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 163) p. 49496-49497 (download full text )
Residents voice opposition to production increase of Crow Butte uranium ISL mine: Crow Butte Resources (CBR), a mining company on the South Dakota and Nebraska border, wants to increase its annual uranium production by 50 percent. To do that, they and their opposition went face to face before the Atomic Licensing Board on July 23, 2008. At the public hearing, dozens of homeowners from Pine Ridge voiced their opposition to CBR's plan to build a uranium mine near Crawford. They say the company's operation near Chadron is destroying natural resources. (KOTA July 23, 2008)
NRC issues Opportunity To Request a Hearing on license renewal request of Crow Butte uranium ISL mine, and Order Imposing Procedures for Access to Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information (SUNSI) for Contention Preparation:
A request for a hearing must be filed by July 28, 2008.
Within ten (10) days after publication of this notice of opportunity for hearing any potential party as defined in 10 CFR 2.4 who believes access to SUNSI is necessary for a response to the notice may request access to such information.
Federal Register: May 27, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 102) p. 30426-30430 (download full text )
NRC issues Notice of License Amendment Request of Crow Butte uranium ISL mine, and Opportunity To Request a Hearing:
A request for a hearing must be filed by June 6, 2008.
Federal Register: April 7, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 67) p. 18823-18825 (download full text )
Cameco applies for license renewal of Crow Butte uranium ISL mine:
By letter dated Nov. 27, 2007, Crow Butte Resources, Inc. applied for the renewal of Source Materials License No. SUA-1534 for the continued operation of the Crow Butte in situ leach uranium mine.
> Download renewal application documents
"Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards staff has learned that Crow Butte Resources (CBR) plans to expand its in situ leach (ISL) uranium extraction operations in Nebraska by operating up to four satellite facilities. CBR estimates that it will submit a license amendment application to NRC for the first satellite facility in May 2005, and an application for a second satellite facility is targeted for 2006 - 2007. Depending on economics, applications could be submitted to NRC for license amendments for two additional satellite facilities in the 2007 - 2010 time frame. Although a memorandum of understanding to defer active groundwater regulation at ISLs may be executed with the State of Nebraska before the first license amendment is submitted in 2005, NRC must prepare environmental assessments for each application." (U.S. NRC SECY-04-0131 WEEKLY INFORMATION REPORT - WEEK ENDING JULY 16, 2004)
"Staff's analysis indicates that concentrations of ammonium, iron, radium-226, selenium, total dissolved solids, and uranium show strongly increasing concentration trends over the stability monitoring period. These trends indicate a reasonable likelihood that license limits would be exceeded in the near future."> See also Federal Register: April 22, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 77) p. 19598
"The Department is proposing to modify the existing permit by removing the injection limitations on flow rate. The limitation for pH is proposed to be changed from 5.0 - 8.5 to 5.0 - 9.5. Reporting for the temperature of the waste stream is proposed to be removed. The limitations for arsenic, barium, and selenium are proposed to be changed from 1 mg/l to 5 mg/l, 20 mg/l to 100 mg/l, and 2 mg/l to 1 mg/l, respectively. Testing for calcium is proposed to be added to the injection parameters with no injection limitation. Testing for cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and silver is proposed to be added with limitations of 1 mg/l, 5 mg/l, 5 mg/l, 0.2 mg/l, and 5 mg/l respectively." [...]
Comments or a request for a public hearing must be submitted by writing to Michael J. Linder, Director, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality , P.O. Box 98922, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-8922, prior to October 13, 2000.
On Oct. 11, 2012, Cameco Resources requested that NRC restart the application process for the Three Crow Expansion Area. Cameco has decided not to pursue the pipeline option at this time.
On Apr. 14, 2011, Cameco Resources requested the NRC suspend review of the Three Crow Expansion Area application so that the option of a pipeline to carry mine fluids directly to the main plant could be evaluated.
On Aug. 3, 2010, Crow Butte Resources, Inc. (CBR) submitted a request for an amendment to Source Materials License SUA-1534 for the development of additional uranium in-situ leach mining resources. The proposed development area is referred to as the Three Crow Expansion Area and will be used as a satellite facility to the main CBR plant.
> Download submitted documents (ADAMS Acc. No. ML102230009)
On July 12, 2010, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality received a Class III Injection Well Application and the corresponding Petition for Aquifer Exemption for Crow Butte Resources, Inc., Three Crow Expansion Area. (ADAMS Acc. No. ML102210326 ).
On March 4, 2009, Cameco submitted to NRC a revised notice of intent to request additional amendments to Source Materials License SUA-1534 for the development of additional uranium in-situ leach mining resources. The proposed development area for use as a satellite facility to the main Crow Butte plant is referred to as the Three Crow Expansion Area. It is Cameco's intent to submit a license amendment application, for this expansion area, during the first quarter of 2010.
On Jan. 31, 2014, NRC released Cameco's response to the RAIs dated March 22, 2013 on the Marsland Expansion Area Environmental Report:
> Download Marsland Expansion Area Environmental RAI
On Jan. 24, 2014, NRC released Cameco's response to the RAIs dated July 3, 2013 on the Marsland Expansion Area Technical Report:
> Download: Vol. 1 · Vol. 2
On Sep. 6, 2013, NRC released Environmental Report revisions for the Marsland Expansion of the Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine:
> Download Environmental Report revisions
On Aug. 21, 2013, NRC released Technical Report revisions for the Marsland Expansion of the Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine:
> Download Marsland Technical Report revisions
On May 10, 2013, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board granted the hearing request of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and admitted it as a party to the proceeding.
On April 19, 2013, Cameco submitted to Nebraska DEQ an application for an Area Permit to install and operate Class I Nonhazardous Waste Injection Wells at the company's
Marsland Expansion Area. "The purpose of the injection wells is to dispose of well field bleed water and a small volume of process water from ISR mining operations and wastewater generated by groundwater restoration activities."
> Download Class I Nonhazardous Waste Injection Wells Area Permit Application
> Download revised Class I Nonhazardous Waste Injection Wells Area Permit Application, Sep. 23, 2014 (NMED)
On Feb. 6, 2013, NRC gave notice that an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (Board) is being established to preside over the following proceeding: Crow Butte Resources, Inc. (Marsland Expansion Area). Hearing requests were filed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and a consolidated group of petitioners.
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 29 (Tuesday, February 12, 2013) (download full text )
NRC announces opportunity to request a hearing and to petition for leave to intervene concerning Marsland Expansion project of Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine:
Requests for a hearing or leave to intervene must be filed by January 29, 2013.
> Federal Register Volume 77, Number 231 (Friday, November 30, 2012) p. 71454-71458 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID NRC-2012-0281
> Download Technical and Environmental Report · more
On May 16, 2012, Cameco submitted the license amendment application for the Marsland Expansion. On June 14, 2012, first portions of the Technical Report and the Environmental Report appeared in NRC's ADAMS Document system.
On Oct. 27, 2010, Crow Butte Resources, Inc. advised that submission of the Marsland license amendment application is anticipated during the third quarter of 2011.
On March 4, 2009, Cameco submitted to NRC a revised notice of intent to request additional amendments to Source Materials License SUA-1534 for the development of additional uranium in-situ leach mining resources. The proposed development area for use as a satellite facility to the main Crow Butte plant is referred to as the Marsland Expansion Area. It is Cameco's intent to submit a license amendment application, for this expansion area, during the third quarter of 2012.
Cameco suspends North Trend Expansion Area license application for Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine: On Dec. 16, 2015, Cameco asked NRC to discontinue work on the North Trend Expansion Area license application and rather prioritize the Marsland Expansion Area application.
On July 26, 2013, NRC released the Safety Evaluation Report for the North Trend Expansion Area of the Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine.
> Download: Safety Evaluation Report License Amendment for the Crow Butte Resources North Trend Expansion Area ISR Facility Dawes County, Nebraska , U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, July 2013
On Aug. 11, 2011, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality issued the permit for the construction and operation of the North Trend Expansion Area of the Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine.
Opposition to aquifer exemption for North Trend expansion of Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine:
Uncertainties regarding the presence of faults and factures in the land underlying northwest Nebraska are a major reason that the Crow Butte Resources uranium mine should not receive an 'aquifer exemption' for its proposed North Trend expansion project, opponents of the mine said Monday (Aug. 23).
Making a decision now to allow use of the estimated 1.85 billion gallons [7 million cubic metres] of water in the lower portions of the Chadron formation under the expansion area would be premature, countered David Frankel, an attorney representing mine opponents in hearings before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Detailed research by Chadron geologist Hannan LaGarry indicates that faults and fractures common in the area could link the Chadron aquifer to other water bearing layers, including the Brule and Arikaree, which are used for drinking water, he said. (Rapid City Journal Aug. 25, 2010)
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled a public hearing regarding a proposal to exempt a portion of the Chadron Aquifer north of Crawford. This portion of the aquifer is associated with a proposed expansion area for the Crow Butte Resources (CBR) uranium mining facility. The proposed exemption would prevent that designated area of the aquifer from being used as a drinking water source in the future.
The public hearing is scheduled for Monday, August 23, 2010.
> View Nebraska DEQ Crow Butte Resources news page
On January 6, 2010, Crow Butte Resources submitted to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) a revised version of its application for a Class III Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permit for the North Trend Expansion project of its Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine.
> Download revised application documents (ADAMS Acc. No. ML100432281)
The ownership of the Crow Butte Resources uranium mine near Crawford by a Canadian mining company is a legitimate issue for argument in deciding whether the mine should be allowed to expand its operation to a nearby site, a three-member panel of Nuclear Regulatory Commission judges has ruled.
In a decision issued Jan. 27, 2009, the NRC judges also said that questions of the impact of low levels of arsenic in water returned to aquifers during mining operations, the relationship between arsenic exposure and diabetes and information about an alleged cluster of pancreatic cancer in the Chadron area can also be raised during hearings on the mine's proposed North Trend expansion.
(The Chadron News Feb. 10, 2009)
> Download Memorandum and Order LBP-09-01 Jan. 27, 2009 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML090270965 )
On April 29, 2008, an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) ordered as follows:
"In this Memorandum and Order, in addition to ruling on three pending matters on which the participants are in dispute, we find that Petitioners WNRC, Owe Aku, and Debra L. White Plume have shown standing to participate in the proceeding, and admit three of their joint contentions, in modified form. The first two of these concern alleged contamination of water resources and potential resulting environmental and health issues; the third concerns the extent of consultation that is required with tribal leaders regarding a prehistoric Indian camp located in the region of the proposed expansion site, under the National Historic Preservation Act."
> Download Memorandum and Order LBP-08-06, April 29, 2008 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML081200636 )
> Download Revised Memorandum and Order LBP-08-06, May 21, 2008 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML081430342 )
On November 12, 2007, seven Petitioners from parts of the poorest region in the United States asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to participate in decisions relative to uranium mining and its harmful effects in northwestern Nebraska and the Lakota (Sioux) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Southwest South Dakota. According to NRC sources, this is the first request to intervene in an NRC proceeding relating to the expansion of an existing uranium mining operation in approximately 17 years. The petitioners are Thomas Cook, Chadron Native American Center, Slim Buttes Agricultural Development Corp., High Plains Community Development Corp., Western Nebraska Resources Council, Debra White Plume, and an Oglala Lakota nonprofit organization called Owe Aku. (UN Observer Dec. 7, 2007)
On Nov. 8, 2007, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality dismissed CBR's petition for aquifer exemption, due to deficiences identified in CBR's Technical Review of Aquifer Exemption Petition dated August 15, 2007.
On May 30, 2007, Crow Butte Resources, Inc. (CBR) submitted a request for an amendment to Source Materials License SUA-1534 for the development of additional uranium in-situ leach mining resources. The proposed development area for use as a satellite facility to the existing main plant is referred to as the North Trend Expansion Area.
> Download application documents (ADAMS Acc. No. ML072540671)
State announces hearing on proposed reactivation of Mt. Taylor uranium mine after 25 years of inactivity
The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Mining and Minerals Division ("MMD") hereby gives notice of a public hearing on the application by Rio Grande Resources Corporation, the operator of the Mount Taylor Mine, for changing the status of the mine from standby to active, and update the closeout plan and required amount of financial assurance under Revision Application 13-2.
The public hearing is scheduled for Friday, December 4, 2015 at 10:00 AM.
Submit comments by January 4, 2016 (Comment period extended).
> Download Public Hearing Notice , Oct. 22, 2015 (PDF - MMD)
> Download Revision 13-2 related documents (MMD)
Discharge Permit renewal and modification for Mt. Taylor uranium mine:
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issued a draft Discharge Permit renewal and modification (Discharge Permit) to Rio Grande Resources Corporation for the Mt. Taylor uranium mine.
Submit written comments or request public hearing within 30 days from June 27, 2014.
> Download: Public Notice (PDF - NMED)
> Download: DRAFT Discharge Permit DP-61 Renewal and Modification (655k PDF - NMED)
Court orders new hearing in Mt. Taylor uranium mine permit:
In a hearing this morning, state District Court Judge Raymond Ortiz handed a victory to community groups in a case concerning Rio Grande Resources' Mount Taylor uranium mine near Grants. In a ruling from the bench, he agreed that the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division (MMD) failed to provide the public with meaningful opportunities to participate in the process to renew the mine’s standby mining permit.
He focused on three issues:
Group seeks public hearing over proposed reactivation of Mt. Taylor uranium mine after 23 years of inactivity: Today, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) filed a request for a public hearing regarding a proposed permit revision to put the Mt. Taylor uranium mine on active status. The mine, near Grants, NM, has been inactive (on "standby" status) without cleanup for 23 years. The mine's owner, Rio Grande Resources, received a fourth renewal for the standby permit in January 2012, but on April 12, 2013 it notified the public it was seeking a revision to change the mine's status to "active". The NMELC filed the hearing request on behalf of its clients, Amigos Bravos and the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE). (NMELC May 10, 2013)
Mine agency to take input on renewal of standby permit requested for Mount Taylor uranium mine:
The New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division has set a public hearing for Rio Grande Resources Corporation's application to renew "Standby Status" for its Mount Taylor Mine on Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 5 p.m. in the Cibola County Convention Center.
A standby permit allows the mine operator to let the mine remain inactive without having to do any clean up. The permit lasts for five years. The Mount Taylor mine is located one mile northeast of San Mateo. The mine is an existing underground uranium mine that extracted uranium ore from depths of more than 3,000 feet below ground surface using room-and-pillar and stope mining methods. Uranium ore was produced from the mine from 1979 to 1982 and from 1985 to 1990. The mine has been inactive since January 1990. A copy of Rio Grande Resources' application for the renewal of Standby Status is available at the Mother Whiteside Memorial Library and in Santa Fe at the Mining and Minerals Division's office. These documents are also available for viewing on the MMD website . (Cibola Beacon Aug. 15, 2011)
Rio Grande Resources Corporation (RGR) submitted a Standby Status Renewal Application for its Mt. Taylor Mine.
The mine is an existing uranium mining operation using underground mining techniques to extract uranium ore from depths of over 3000 feet below ground surface using room-and-pillar and stope mining methods. There are no milling facilities within the proposed Standby area.
The Mine has been inactive since January 1990 until the present.
> View Standby Status Application (NM EMNRD)
A groundwater discharge permit is being sought for Mount Taylor Uranium Mine and Mill owned by Rio Grande Resources, according to the New Mexico Environment Department .
Gerald Schoeppner of NMED's Groundwater Quality Bureau said Wednesday that the company has an existing discharge plan for its mine that it's trying to renew, "but that's one of the pieces of the puzzle that's missing - how they're planning to treat their mine water for the dewatering to meet standards."
The Mount Taylor mine previously was a conventional mining operation "and they plan to operate it as a conventional mine in the future," Schoeppner said. The mine site is located just outside the 8,000 foot elevation boundary established in the June 2008 emergency designation of Mount Taylor as a Traditional Cultural Property.
Rio Grande Resources controls uranium operations and mineral resources acquired by General Atomics from Chevron Resources in 1991. The Mount Taylor project, a conventional underground mine, contains the largest uranium resource in the United States and is currently on standby, according to the company's Web site. Chevron began commercial production at Mount Taylor in 1986, initially shipping the ore to its Panna Maria mill in south Texas for processing. The mine was placed on standby in 1989. (Gallup Independent Feb. 19, 2009)
> Download NMED Public Notice Feb. 13, 2009 (PDF)
> See also: Cotter aims to reopen Cañon City (Colorado) uranium mill in 2014 to process ores from Mt Taylor mine (New Mexico)
Uranium mining in South Texas is opposed by South Texas Opposes Pollution (STOP) .
> See older issues
> View decommissioning issues
> See also Palangana ISL mine
> View TCEQ notice: Texas Register, May 28, 2010, Volume 35 Number 22, Pages 4275-4526, In-addition
> View TCEQ notice: Texas Register, June 4, 2010, Volume 35 Number 23, Pages 4527-4766, In-addition
"Everest Exploration for renewal of an Underground Injection Control (UIC) Well, Permit No. WDW-168. The Executive Director has prepared a draft permit.
The applicant currently operates an in-situ uranium mine. Wastes generated on-site are non-hazardous. The injected wastes include: barren solution bleed, restoration waste stream, process waste streams, and tailings or wastes produced by or resulting from the extraction or concentration of uranium, other associated wastes such as ground water and rainfall contaminated by the above authorized wastes, spills of the above authorized wastes, and wash waters and solutions used in cleaning and servicing the waste disposal well system equipment which are compatible with the permitted waste streams, reservoir and well materials. WDW-168 was initially put in service in 1979. The facility is located 0.5 mile southwest of Hobson on Farm-Market Road 81, Karnes County, Texas.
SIGNED MAY 7, 1999" (TNRCC Items Signed by Executive Director 7 May 1999 )
Palangana uranium in situ leach mine obtains state authorization for operation of fourth Production Area: On May 27, 2015, Uranium Energy Corp announced that the Palangana ISR Mine has received the required permits, and is now fully permitted for extraction in new resource areas with a larger Mine Permit and Aquifer Exemption. The expanded mine area boundary is now 8,722 acres versus 6,200 acres previously and includes Production Area-4.
Production of Palangana in situ leach mine reduced in response to low uranium prices: Uranium Energy Corp. is cutting production as prices trade at a seven-year low. Uranium Energy will reduce output at its Palangana mine so the project just breaks even, the Vancouver-based company said in a statement today. The savings will be used to develop the company's larger Goliad and Burke Hollow projects. (Business Week Sep. 5, 2013)
Palangana uranium in situ leach mine obtains state authorization for operation of third Production Area: On Dec. 7, 2012, Uranium Energy Corp announced the receipt of a Production Area Authorization from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, allowing for the commencement of operations at Production Area-3 of the Company's Palangana Mine located in South Texas. With wellfields and well control facilities in place already, operations at Production Area-3 has commenced while operations at Production Areas 1 and 2 are ongoing.
> View older issues
"[...] Vasquez has continued to operate below expectations. At the beginning of the project in 2004, our mining plan indicated we could produce the Vasquez property at an annual rate of 700,000 pounds [269 t U]. The geological and chemical problems we experienced in 2005 caused us to revise that estimate downward to an annual capacity of 400,000 pounds [154 t U]. [...]" (URI Sep. 19, 2006)
> See older issues
> View decommissioning issues Kingsville Dome
"[...] The bleed at PA-3 [production area three] did not contain the increased pressures caused by injection of leaching fluids. A hydraulic gradient was rapidly established between the injection wells and the mine boundary, as shown by a rise in water levels in monitor wells surrounding PA-3. This gradient drove mining solution beyond the mine boundary. These excursions affected a well on the Garcia property, approximately 300 m down gradient of the mine. Since mining began, uranium concentrations in the Garcia well have increased from less than 200 µg/L, to more than 600 µg/L.
This is the first time that contaminants in an off-site domestic well have been linked to ISL uranium mining in the United States of America."
Excursions of Mining Solution at the Kingsville Dome In-situ Leach Uranium Mine, by George Rice, in: 2012 - 2013 Austin Geological Society Bulletin, Volume 9 (3.9MB PDF), p. 18-34
Effects of URI's Kingsville Dome Mine on Groundwater Quality , Final Report, Prepared for the Kleberg County URI Citizen Review Board By George Rice, July 2006 (ALTURA)
On Dec. 2, 2013, BLM announced that the Forest Service has new NEPA requirements under its 36 CFR 218 regulations. The Environmental Assessment (EA), Forest Service Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and Forest Service Decision docment will be made available for a 45-day objection period. This is expected to occur in January 2014.
On September 25, 2014, the Manti La Sal National Forest posted the Environmental Assessment and a draft decision and FONSI on its Schedule of Proposed Action (SOPA) report for a 45 day objection period.
File objections within 45 days of September 25, 2014.
> Download La Sal Mines Complex Project Documents (Forest Service)
> Download Objections filed by Uranium Watch and others , Dec. 22, 2014 (927k PDF - Uranium Watch)
U.S Forest Service sends decision on La Sal Mines Complex Environmental Assessment back to drawing board: "On March 20, 2015, US Forest Service (USFS) ruled favorably on Uranium Watch et al.'s Objection to the La Sal Mines Complex Plan of Operations Amendment, the project EA, and the USFS draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). In the 38-page decision, the Objection Reviewing Officer found that the FONSI was not supported by the EA and the project record. He instructed the Forest Supervisor to hold the issuance of the Decision Notice until all concerns and instructions in the decision have been addressed. At the end of this process, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will issue its final decision." (Uranium Watch Mar. 26, 2015)
> View Center for Biological Diversity release, March 26, 2015
Additional Information (Pandora Complex Mine ID 4200470):
> Access MSHA - Mine Data Retrieval System
The Forest Services' comment period ends March 24, 2011.
> Download La Sal Mines Complex Documents (USDA Forest Service)
BLM seeks public input on proposed operating plan modification for continued development of Daneros uranium mine:
"This Modification includes components necessary to support additional mine development and mine operation beyond 2012. This Modification is designed to facilitate mineral development activities for a minimum of five and up to approximately 20 years of continued production, depending on market conditions and other factors."
Scoping comments will be accepted by until March 14, 2014.
> Download BLM release Feb. 5, 2014 (PDF)
> Download Daneros Plan of Operations, Dec. 2013
Daneros mine to be placed on standby for poor economics: On Oct. 17, 2012, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that it will shift its short-term focus toward lower cost sources of U3O8 production within its asset portfolio. As a result of this revised production strategy, Energy Fuels will be placing the Beaver and Daneros properties on the Colorado Plateau on standby over the course of the first quarter of FY 2013.
> View older issues
Mine Safety and Health Administration settles with Reliance Resources on penalties for fatal accident at Pandora mine in 2010: Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has settled with Moab based Reliance Resources LLC for penalties associated with the fatal mine accident at the Pandora Mine on May 26, 2010. Reliance Resources operated the mine in La Sal, Utah, for Denison Mines Corporation, a Canadian company. Hunter Diehl was killed when large rock fell on him. He was manually scaling loose material from the rib when it fell.
Pandora mine to be shut down: On Oct. 17, 2012, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that it will cease mining at the Pandora property during the second quarter of FY 2013, pending the depletion of its identified uranium and vanadium resources.
Pandora mine operator fined $92,600 for fatal accident: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has issued a penalty of $92,600 to Reliance Resources, LLC, for two violations from the fatal accident on May 26, 2010, at the Pandora Mine (Mine ID 4200470), La Sal, San Juan County, Utah. (UraniumWatch May 7, 2011)
More worker health and safety violations at La Sal mines:
The January 2011 Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspections resulted in 5 worker health and safety violations at the Pandora Mine for Reliance Resources LLC and 6 violations at the Beaver Shaft for Denison Mines (USA) Corp. All MSHA violations were associated with the failure of the mine operators to properly protect the workers from exposure to radon daughters (short lived, highly radioactive particulates from the decay of radon) in the mines.
Both Denison Mines and Reliance Resources were cited for exposure of workers to air with concentrations of radon daughters exceeding 1.0 working level (WL) in active workings and for the failure of workers to wear respirators in areas where the radon daughters exceed 1.0 WL. Reliance Resources was also cited for improper ventilation, not posting inactive workings where radon daughter concentrations are about 1.0 WL, and failure to calculate and record complete individual exposures in active working areas with radon daughter concentrations are more than .03 WL. This followed an inspection of December 20 when Denison was fined $6,000 for exposure of workers to radon daughters above the acceptable level, improper ventilation, and failure to calculate and document worker exposure to radon daughters, or progeny.
At the beginning of December, Denison was citied for 12 other violations, some for the same violations that Reliance Resources was cited for after Hunter Diehl was killed at the Pandora Mine 2010. Denison failed to correct hazardous conditions associated with scaling and support and failed to have a competent person examine each working place at least once each shift for conditions that may adversely affect safety or health.
In 2009 Denison received 13 citations; Reliance Resources received 14; total penalties for all were $3,629. In 2010, Denison received 34 citations and orders; total penalties of $18,304. Reliance Resources received 18 citations and orders; total penalties of $2,664 (this does not include any penalties associated with the fatal Pandora Mine accident on May 26, 2010).
Denison has been ajusting its ventilation system to reduce radon emissions so that they do not exceed the standard for doses to the nearest residents, La Sal School, and road maintenance shed. It is difficult for Denison to meet both the dose standard for off-site exposures to radon and the underground worker exposure standards.
(UraniumWatch March 3, 2011)
> Access MSHA - Mine Data Retrieval System (Mine ID: 4200470)
Judge approves drilling at Pandora uranium mine in Manti-La Sal National Forest: A federal judge will allow a uranium mining company to drill several new holes in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Three Moab conservation groups had asked Judge Dale A. Kimball to halt the drilling planned by Denison Mines Corp. at its Pandora Mine, claiming the U.S. Forest Service permitted the project without an adequate environmental study. Uranium Watch, Center for Water Advocacy and Living Rivers argued that Denison would create radioactive air emissions and heavy metal contamination if it drills 16 exploration holes and two radon vent holes, a project approved by the Forest Service. Kimball gave more weight to Denison's environmental expert, who said there was no significant risk of environmental harm. Kimball also wrote that the Forest Service followed procedural rules when it allowed the project without environmental assessments or impact statements. (Salt Lake Tribune Sep 14, 2010)
Groups file suit to stop expansion of Pandora uranium mine in La Sal, Utah:
Uranium Watch, Center for Water Advocacy, and Living Rivers, conservation groups located in Moab, Utah, yesterday (July 29) filed suit in federal district court in Salt Lake City to halt uranium exploration and the construction of radon vent holes on U.S. Forest Service land in the Manti-La Sal National Forest in La Sal, Utah.
The complaint filed with the United States District Court for the District of Utah challenges a decision by the Moab/Monticello Ranger District to permit the drilling of 16 exploration drill holes and 2 radon vent holes as part of the expansion of the Pandora Uranium Mine.
Radon is vented to the surface from the underground mine operations so that the miners will not breath in the radon gas and be exposed to the short-lived highly radioactive particles that are produced when radon decays. The proposed radon vents would add to the amount of radon gas and radioactive particulates released in the vicinity of the community of La Sal, on the south slope of the La Sal Mountains. In 2009, the amount of radon released from the uranium mines in La Sal jumped from 300 Curies to over 4,500 Curies, according to Denison's annual reports to the Utah Division of Air Quality. Radon is released from vents near the Beaver Shaft not far from the La Sal Elementary School. (Uranium Watch, July 30, 2010)
Uranium miner dies in rockfall accident in Pandora mine:
A 28-year-old uranium miner from Moab died Wednesday (May 26) morning after he was hit by falling rock in the Pandora mine near LaSal, San Juan County.
(The Salt Lake Tribune May 26, 2010)
Federal regulators faulted a Utah company for safety lapses in the death of a uranium miner who was killed by a large rock slab he was peeling off a tunnel wall near La Sal. A Mine Safety and Health Administration report released Thursday (Sep. 23) said Reliance Resources LLC of Moab was cited for inadequate worker training and failing to test a tunnel wall for loose rock. The citations were rescinded after the company took corrective measures. The report says 28-year-old Hunter Diehl ("deal") of Moab was using a pry bar to pull off loose slabs May 26 when one fell on top of him. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital. Reliance Resources operates the Pandora mine for another company, Denison Mines (USA) Corp. (Business Week Sep. 24, 2010)
> Download MSHA Report of Investigation, Sep. 23, 2010 (355k PDF)
A public input period is under way to comment on an air-quality permit for the Pandora uranium mine in La Sal, San Juan County.
Moab-based Uranium Watch has requested a hearing. Director Sarah Fields raised a concern about the proximity of venting to an elementary school.
The deadline for written comments is July 3, 2009.
(The Salt Lake Tribune June 9, 2009)
> View Utah DEQ DAQ Permits out for public comment ("Denison Mines (USA) Corp, La Sal Mine")
On Sep. 14, 2006, International Uranium Corp. announced it has reached an agreement with Reliance Resources, LLC to conduct contract mining at the Company's Pandora Mine, located near LaSal, Utah. The Pandora Mine is a previously developed mine last operated in the late 1980's. Mining activities are underway and ore shipments to the Company's White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah will begin in early October 2006.
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