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(last updated 22 Jan 2021)

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Federal

NRC considers 'streamlining' of environmental review process

"This paper provides the staff's recommendation to initiate a rulemaking to revise and update the regulations in 10 CFR Part 51. The recommended rulemaking would streamline the staff's environmental review process; assist the Commission and the staff, as appropriate, in focusing on the relevant environmental issues in their decision-making; maintain openness with the public; and reduce the burden on applicants, licensees, and the NRC."
> Download: Rulemaking Plan - Transforming the NRC's Environmental Review Process, SECY-21-0001 , Dec. 31, 2020


NRC suspends exports of source material to United Kingdom in view of Brexit

In view of Brexit, NRC has issued orders suspending exports of source material (material containing thorium or non-enriched uranium) to the United Kingdom. "This suspension is required due to the U.K.'s exit from the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). Exports of EURATOM-obligated and Canadian-obligated source material to the U.K. are currently not authorized."

> Download: Order Modifying Licenses to Suspend Certain Exports to the United Kingdom [Transport Logistics International], Dec. 17, 2020 (PDF)
Federal Register Volume 85, Number 247 (Wednesday, December 23, 2020) p. 84014-84015 (download full text )
> Access: Docket ID NRC-2020-0270

> Download: Order Modifying Licenses to Suspend Certain Exports to the United Kingdom [Converdyn], Dec. 16, 2020 (PDF)
Federal Register Volume 85, Number 246 (Tuesday, December 22, 2020) p. 83629-83630 (download full text )
> Access: Docket ID NRC-2020-0271


NRC issues draft revision of Decommissioning Guidance Vol.2 for comment

This guidance takes a risk-informed, performance-based approach to the demonstration of compliance. This guidance will help identify the information (subject matter and level of detail) needed to terminate a license and considers the specific circumstances of the wide range of NRC licensees. Licensees should use this guidance in preparing decommissioning plans (DPs), license termination plans, final status surveys, and other technical decommissioning reports for NRC submittal. The NRC staff will use the guidance in reviewing these documents and related license amendment requests. Volume 2 applies to all licensees subject to the LTR [License Termination Rule] (i.e., fuel cycle, fuel storage, materials, and reactor licensees).
Changes made to this revision of Volume 2 include the following: Dose Modeling, "As Low As Is Reasonably Achievable (ALARA)" Analysis, Composite Sampling, Characterization, Engineered Barrier Analysis, Radiological Surveys, among others.
Submit comments by April 8, 2021 (Comment period extended).
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 236 (Tuesday, December 8, 2020) p. 79044-79045 (download full text )
> Federal Register Volume 86, Number 13 (Friday, January 22, 2021) p. 6683-6684 (download full text )
> Download: Consolidated Decommissioning Guidance, Characterization, Survey, and Determination of Radiological Criteria, Draft Report for Comment , NUREG-1757, Volume 2, Revision 2, U.S. NRC, Nov. 2020 (5.3MB PDF)
> Access: Docket ID NRC-2020-0192


DOE proposes to allow exploitation of oil and gas deposits below Texas uranium mill tailings sites

In view of anticipated problems to obtain subsurface rights for the Panna Maria, Ray Point, and Conquista, Texas, UMTRCA Title II tailings sites, DOE proposes to allow the access to oil and gas deposits below these sites, if done by lateral drilling from outside of the site perimeters.
> Download: NRC letter to DOE, Jan. 29, 2018 (Request for Clarification - 175kB PDF)
> Download: DOE letter to NRC, Feb. 26, 2018 (Alternative Proposal - 6MB PDF)
> Download: NRC letter to DOE, Sep. 23, 2020 (NRC Staff Response to Alternative Proposal - 938KB PDF)


U.S. seeks to lower Russian uranium imports to boost domestic mining

The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday (Sep. 14) inked a draft agreement with Russia's state nuclear energy company to reduce imports of uranium from Russia over the next 20 years in a bid to boost domestic mining and nuclear energy.
The Commerce Department and Rosatom initialed the draft amendment to the 1992 Russian Suspension Agreement to prevent dumping, extending that deal to the year 2040 and gradually reduce the amount of uranium the U.S. imports from Russia for enrichment from 20% to 15% starting in 2028. (Reuters Sep. 14, 2020)
> View: DOC release Sep. 12, 2020
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 180 (Wednesday, September 16, 2020) p. 57824-57832 (download full text )
Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on September 28, 2020.

Sen. John Barrasso introduced a bill [titled "Russian Suspension Agreement Extension Act of 2020"] Friday (Sep. 25) to limit the import of uranium from Russia in favor of boosting uranium production in the U.S. (Casper Star Tribune Sep. 28, 2020)

The U.S. Department of Commerce and the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation, have signed a final amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation. This amendment extends the Agreement through 2040 and reduces U.S. reliance on uranium from Russia during that time period.
The amendment is unchanged from a draft amendment released for public comment on September 11, 2020.
> View: DOC release Oct. 6, 2020
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 197 (Friday, October 9, 2020) p. 64112-64120 (download full text )


NRC developing approach for Valuing Nonfatal Cancer Risks in Cost-Benefit Analysis

The staff plans to develop detailed guidance on monetizing the risks associated with the morbidity from nonfatal cancers using quality-adjusted life years. These quality-adjusted life-year estimates are available for a variety of cancer types and subject populations and can be used in conjunction with the annualized value of a statistical life to approximate WTP ["Willingness to pay"]. The staff will hold a public meeting to seek public input on this approach prior to developing the guidance.
> Download: Policy Issue - Valuing Nonfatal Cancer Risks in Cost-Benefit Analysis , U.S. NRC, SECY-20-0074, Aug. 13, 2020 (PDF)


EPA signs MOU with NRC, abandoning authority over groundwater regulation at in situ leach uranium mines

Two U.S. government agencies agreed Thursday (July 23) to keep state regulators primarily in charge of regulating groundwater pollution from uranium mining in the latest move by President Donald Trump's administration to prop up the ailing industry.
The agreement signed in Wyoming, the top uranium-producing state, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency won't stipulate how uranium mines should comply with certain U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license requirements.
The commission has agreements with 39 states, including one with Wyoming since 2018, giving those states primary oversight of uranium mining.
As a result, the new agreement between the EPA and NRC in effect ensures that oversight of groundwater contamination at all but one U.S. uranium mine will continue to be largely the responsibility of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
Conservation groups responded with concern. The agreement sheds the EPA of responsibility for protecting groundwater, said Shannon Anderson, an attorney with the Powder River Basin Resource Council landowner group in Wyoming. (AP July 23, 2020)
> Download: Memorandum of Understanding Between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Concerning the Regulation of Uranium in situ Recovery Activities , July 23, 2020 (PDF)

> See also: NRC rulemaking on Ground Water Protection at Uranium In Situ Recovery Facilities
> See also: EPA's proposed rulemaking on groundwater protection standards for uranium in situ leach mining


President's Nuclear Fuel Working Group suggests strategy to make U.S. uranium mining industry great again

In a report that reads like an only slightly moderated compilation of the President's infamous Twitter rants, the Nuclear Fuel Working Group (NFWG), established by President Trump on July 12, 2019, makes the following proposals (among others, emphasis added): In addition, the Working Group makes the following remarkably candid statement: "The Working Group strategy has considered policy options to create new commercial demand while recognizing that the U.S. national security interest is truly integrated with the health of the entire front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle -- the United States needs a strong civil nuclear industry to enable national defense." [emphasis added]
> View: DOE release Apr. 23, 2020
> View: NFWG Fact Sheet (DOE Apr. 23, 2020)
> Download: Restoring America's Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage (NFWG recommendations, DOE Apr. 23, 2020)

> See also: President's Nuclear Fuel Working Group suggests strategy to make U.S. nuclear fuel industry great again
> See also: U.S. national security probe into uranium imports


COVID-19 pandemic affects regulators' oversight of uranium mines and mills

NGOs request suspension of NRC rulemaking and licensing in view of COVID-19 pandemic:
> Download: Request for Suspension of All NRC Rulemakings and Other Activities Involving Public Comment or Participation Until 6 Months After End of COVID-19 Crisis , Apr. 8, 2020 (PDF)

DOE announces changes to groundwater sampling at former Gunnison uranium mill site due to COVID-19 pandemic: On Apr. 22, 2020, the Department of Energy informed NRC of changes to groundwater sampling at the Gunnison, Colorado former uranium processing site in response to travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Utah DEQ to hold electronic public hearing on proposed license amendments for processing of a variety of materials at White Mesa uranium mill: If a public hearing is scheduled on the proposed license amendments for the processing of a variety of materials at the White Mesa uranium mill, it will be held as an electronic public hearing using Google Meets (due to the state of emergency that has been declared due to the COVID-19 virus).

NRC approves temporary suspension of groundwater monitoring at former Ambrosia Lake uranium mill site due to COVID-19 pandemic: On Apr. 16, 2020, Rio Algom requested a temporary relief from monthly groundwater monitoring at its former Ambrosia Lake uranium mill site in April and May in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NRC approved the request on Apr. 21, 2020.

NRC approves temporary suspension of groundwater monitoring at former Church Rock uranium mill site due to COVID-19 pandemic: On Jun. 8, 2020, General Electric Co. requested a temporary relief from monthly groundwater monitoring at its former Church Rock uranium mill site in April and May in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NRC approved the request on June 18, 2020.


Mine Safety and Health Administration invites comment on proposed extension of information collection on exposure to radon and decay products in underground mines

Currently, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is soliciting comments on the information collection for Radiation Sampling and Exposure Records.
Submit comments by May 5, 2020.
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 45 (Friday, March 6, 2020) p. 13189-13190 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID MSHA-2020-0006


Discussion of 'Key Challenges in Reconstituting Uranium Mining and Conversion Capabilities in the United States'

DOE issues Request for Information Regarding Key Challenges in Reconstituting Uranium Mining and Conversion Capabilities in the United States: The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) is issuing this RFI [Request for Information] to invite public input on key challenges in reconstituting uranium mining and conversion capabilities in the United States. This invitation is in recognition of the importance of nuclear fuel supply chain capabilities to the United States. The Joint Explanatory Statement of the Energy and Water Development Committees on H.R. 1865, the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy and Water Appropriations Act, requests the Department to contract not later than 60 days after enactment of the Act with a Federally-Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) or other independent organization to work with industry to identify key challenges in reconstituting mining and conversion capabilities in the United States. The responses received from this RFI will be provided to the FFRDC or the independent organization.
Submit comments by March 30, 2020 (Comment period extended).
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 36 (Monday, February 24, 2020) p. 10424-10426 (download full text )
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 48 (Wednesday, March 11, 2020) p. 14189-14190 (download full text )


President's budget proposes US$ 150 million for creation of uranium reserve in order to support struggling uranium mining companies

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Texas

TCEQ invites comment on proposed rulemaking to streamline underground injection control permitting (Texas)

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (commission) is accepting written comments regarding proposed amendments to §§39.403, 50.113, 55.101, 55.201, 331.2, 331.5, 331.7, 331.47, 331.64, and 331.121, and repealed §331.17 and §331.18 of 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 39, Public Notice, Chapter 50, Action on Applications and Other Authorizations, Chapter 55, Requests for Reconsideration and Contested Case Hearings; Public Comment, and Chapter 331, Underground Injection Control.
Consistent with other commission rules and the United States Environmental Protection Agency's regulations, the proposed rulemaking would amend and repeal rules for pre-injection units associated with nonhazardous, noncommercial injection wells to remove the requirements to permit or register pre-injection units under Chapter 331 and would result in a streamlined underground injection control permit application process.
Submit comments by September 15, 2020.
> View: Notice of Public Comment on Proposed Revisions to 30 TAC Chapters 39, 50, 55, and 331 , Texas Register, Aug. 14, 2020, In Addition
> Download: related documents (Rule Project Number 2016-022-331-WS)

 

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