Issues at White Mesa uranium mill (Utah)
(last updated 23 Dec 2020)
> See also: Denison / White Mesa Uranium Mill (Utah DEQ) · White Mesa Uranium Mill (Utah Division of Radiation Control)
> Download Utah OGM files
> See also: Sierra Club Glen Canyon Group Nuclear Committee
> Download: Glen Canyon Group/Sierra Club Fact Sheet (PDF) (posted with permission)
Byproduct License No. UT1900479
Groundwater Quality Discharge Permit No. UGW370004
> View White Mesa mill details
> View Energy Fuels Inc. details
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (DWMRC) is requesting public comment regarding a proposed Licensing Action to amend the Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. 11e.(2) Byproduct Radioactive Material License (RML UT1900479) and the Groundwater Quality Discharge Permit (Permit UGW370004) for the White Mesa Uranium Mill site near Blanding, San Juan County, Utah.
Major proposed changes in the License Amendment include:
The comment period ends at the close of business on July 10, 2020 (comment period extended).
- increase the limit of the 5,000 cubic yards of byproduct material from a single source In-Situ Recovery (ISR) (aka ISL) facility to an annual limit of 10,000 cubic yards per year to be placed in the Mill's tailings impoundments,
- allow an unlimited amount of byproduct material from ISR facilities owned by the Licensee provided there is adequate volume available in the tailings impoundments,
- allow an unlimited amount of byproduct material from uranium recovery facilities within the State of Utah provided there is adequate volume available in the tailings impoundments,
- authorize the Licensee to accept alternate feed material from Silmet, Estonia,
- authorize the Licensee to accept additional alternate feed material from the Union Pacific Railroad Moffat Tunnel located in Colorado.
A public hearing will be held on May 20, 2020, as an electronic public hearing using Google Meets (due to the state of emergency that has been declared due to the COVID-19 virus).
> View: Public Notices: Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. (UT DEQ)
Tribe concerned as several contaminants even exceed recently relaxed groundwater compliance limits at White Mesa uranium mill
The Ute Mountain Ute Environmental Programs sent a Letter to the Director, Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (Division) expressing their concerns about aquifer pollution around the White Mesa Uranium Mill. The Mill is adjacent to the White Mesa Band community and lands on White Mesa, San Juan County.
The 3rd Quarter 2019 Groundwater Monitoring Reports recently submitted by Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. (EFRI) show that Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), sulfate, and fluoride exceed the GWCL [groundwater compliance limits] relaxed in March 2019, while selenium and uranium meet the relaxed standard and only exceed the previous standard.
> Download: Ute Mountain Ute Tribe letter , Jan. 8, 2020 (PDF - Uranium Watch)
Protest march to White Mesa uranium mill
Fifty anti-nuclear activists including Ute Mountain Ute tribal members showed up for a five- mile protest march to the entrance of the White Mesa uranium mill in southeast Utah Saturday (May 18).
(The Journal May 19, 2019)
Utah DEQ invites comment on relaxed groundwater compliance limits for White Mesa uranium mill
The Director of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control is seeking public comment on a request from Energy Fuels Resources to modify the Groundwater Discharge Permit (Permit No. UGW370004) for the White Mesa Uranium Mill located in Blanding, Utah.
This modification includes in particular increases of the groundwater compliance limits for selenium (from 86.81 µg/L to 119.4 µg/L) and uranium (from 9.1 µg/L to 15 µg/L).
Written comments will be accepted if received by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, December 28, 2018.
> Download: Public Notice , Nov. 28, 2018 (52kB PDF)
> Download: Statement of Basis – Ground Water Permit Modification , Nov. 2018 (427kB PDF)
White Mesa uranium mill resumes vanadium production
On Sept. 27, 2018, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that the company expects to resume vanadium production at its White Mesa Mill in mid-November 2018, producing significant quantities of salable V2O5 product by the end of December 2018.
As previously announced, and starting in November 2018, Energy Fuels expects to begin vanadium production from the pond solutions at the White Mesa Mill, which the company estimates contain approximately 4 million pounds of recoverable V2O5. Once production reaches a steady state, the company expects to produce approximately 200,000 to 225,000 pounds of V2O5 per month from the pond solutions for a period of 16 to 20 months, subject to market conditions, costs, and recoveries.
In addition, the company is currently preparing to conduct a test-mining program that selectively targets high-grade V2O5 resources at its 100%-owned La Sal Complex of uranium/vanadium mines in Utah, with the goal of significantly increasing productivity and mined grades and reducing mining costs per pound of V2O5 and U3O8 recovered.
On Jan. 7, 2019, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that it has resumed vanadium production at its White Mesa Mill.
On Feb. 12, 2019, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that it is now producing high-purity vanadium at commercial rates of approximately 175,000 to 200,000 pounds of V2O5 per month and that shipments of vanadium have commenced for sale to customers. Ramp-up is expected to continue in the coming weeks, and the company continues to expect to reach full production rates of 200,000 to 225,000 pounds of high-purity V2O5 per month by the end of Q1-2019 or sooner.
Energy Fuels files application for new tailings impoundments at White Mesa uranium mill:
On July 13, 2018, Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. filed a license amendment request for the construction of new tailings impoundment Cells 5A and 5B at its White Mesa mill.
> View: White Mesa Uranium Mill Tailings Cells 5A/5B License Amendment Request: Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. (Utah DEQ)
Protest march against White Mesa uranium mill
For the third year, Ute Mountain Utes and environmental groups held a rally and march to protest the White Mesa uranium mill south of Blanding, Utah.
About 70 marchers participated, with many carrying signs including, "Native Lives Matter," "Leave Uranium in the Ground," and "Justice for White Mesa Utes."
(The Journal May 20, 2018)
Energy Fuels submits revised reclamation plan for the White Mesa mill
> Download: White Mesa Uranium Mill Reclamation Plan, Revision 5.1B , February 8, 2018 (Utah DEQ)
Uranium firm urged Trump officials to shrink Bears Ears National Monument
> View here
Arizona Dept. of Water Resources does not take action against Energy Fuels for transporting contaminated mine water from Canyon mine (Arizona) to White Mesa mill (Utah) without proper approval
> View here
Protest march against White Mesa uranium mill
About 80 protesters opposed to the White Mesa uranium mill in southeast Utah marched three miles along U.S. Highway 191 to the mill's entrance Saturday (May 13).
The protest was organized by members of Ute Mountain Ute tribe, which has a small reservation community three miles from the mill. The mill, which is owned by Energy Fuels, of Toronto, is the only conventional uranium mill operating in the country.
Protesters carried anti-nuclear signs, including "No Uranium, Protect Sacred Lands," "Water is Life," and "No Toxic Waste."
They are concerned about the mill's potential health impacts on air and water quality, and they object to containment cells at the mill that accept radioactive waste from around the country.
Several environmental groups also attended the rally, including Grand Canyon Trust, which sued Energy Fuels in 2015 for allegedly operating too many waste containment cells than allowed for under Environmental Protection Agency regulations. The case is pending.
(The Journal May 13, 2017)
Comments invited on license renewal for White Mesa Uranium Mill:
The License Amendment / Permit Modification proposes to:
Submit comments by July 31, 2017 (Comment period extended).
- Renew the RML for the Licensee. The Licensee submitted an application to the DWMRC to renew RML No. UT1900479, with a cover letter dated February 28, 2007.
- Add License Condition 10.8 which will authorize the Licensee to accept an additional alternate feed from Sequoyah Fuel, Oklahoma. The License is requesting that the uranium material be authorized for receipt and processing at the White Mesa Mill as alternate feed material based on its uranium content. Byproduct (residuals) from the extraction of source material would be disposed within the Mill's active lined uranium tailings management/disposal cells.
- Renew the Ground Water Discharge Permit No. UGW370004 for the Licensee.
- Approve Reclamation Plan 5.1
> Access related documents (Utah DEQ)
State regulator approves license renewal for White Mesa Uranium Mill:
On Jan. 19, 2018, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality approved a 10-year renewal of the mill's license, a 5-year renewal of the Ground Water Discharge Permit, and the processing of alternate feed from Sequoyah Fuel.
> Download license renewal documents (Utah DEQ)
Protest march against White Mesa uranium mill
On October 11, 2016, citizens of the White Mesa community walked and rode from White Mesa to the White Mesa Uranium Mill in opposition to the Mill.
(Uranium Watch Nov. 13, 2016)
Energy Fuels submits revised reclamation plan for the White Mesa mill
> Download: White Mesa Uranium Mill Reclamation Plan, Revision 5.1 , August 2016 (Utah DEQ)
Waste sludge transports from Cameco's Smith Ranch in situ leach uranium mine to White Mesa mill halted after repeated leakages
> View here
Leakage from White Mesa uranium mill's tailings impoundments threatens water, Ute tribe
The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and environmental organizations worry that the White Mesa Uranium Mill, the nation's last conventional uranium mill, threatens the water quality of vital springs and poses a long-term threat to the Navajo Aquifer, the main source of drinking water for southeastern Utah and northern Arizona. These concerns are highlighted in the new film, "Half Life" [12 min], released today.
The mill processes both uranium ore and alternate feed (uranium-bearing radioactive waste) from across North America. The radioactive and toxic waste that remains after processing is disposed of in open pits called "impoundments" that take up about 275 acres [1.1 km2] next to the mill. The older impoundments at the mill are lined with thin layers of PVC, and the RRD International Corp, a team of mining experts, has concluded that these liners had a useful life of 20 years when installed in the early 1980s. The older liners also lack modern leak detection systems that would prevent groundwater contamination.
To date, no contamination has reached the four springs regularly monitored by the tribe, but evidence of growing plumes of contaminants in the perched aquifer below the mill site continues to mount.
> View Grand Canyon Trust release May 3, 2016
> View video: Half Life: The Story of America's Last Uranium Mill (Vimeo - 12 min)
Data shows need to continue radon monitoring at White Mesa uranium mill
"In July 2014, the Utah Division Radiation Control (DRC) ordered Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. to monitor the radon emissions from Cell 2 twice yearly and report them in the White Mesa Mill Semi-Annual Effluent Monitoring Report (SAER). The SAER for the Second Half of 2014 includes the results of Cell 2 radon monitoring.
Energy Fuels conducted 2 monitoring events, in July and September. The July test shows a flux of 20.4 pico Curies per square meter per second (20.4 pCi/m2-sec). This is above the 20 pCi/m2-sec limit the DRC established for Cell 2. The DRC determined that Cell 2 was in "closure," so no longer subject to the Environmental Protection Agency 20 pCi/m2-sec standard, so the DRC adopted that standard for Cell 2. In August Energy Fuels added additional materials on the interim cover to reduce the radon emissions, then retested in September. The September radon flux was below the emission limit. This shows that the DRC must require the continued monitoring of the Cell 2 radon emissions during closure.
The mill continues to emit high levels of radon from the radium-laden effluents in Cells 1, 3, 4A, and 4B. The average emissions from Cells 1, 4A, and 4B (~ 135 acres) for 2014 was 1,749 pCi/m2-sec, up from 156 pCi/m2-sec in 2013."
(UraniumWatch Mar. 15, 2015)
> Download: White Mesa Uranium Mill Semi-Annual Effluent Monitoring Report, July through December 2014 , Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., Feb. 26, 2015 (138.5MB PDF - UT DEQ)
Dramatic increase of radium concentrations in White Mesa uranium mill tailings impoundments suggests radon emissions way beyond standards
The 2014 Annual Tailings Wastewater Monitoring Report shows a dramatic increase in the Cells 1, 4A, and 4B radium content. The data in the Report was based on August 2014 sampling events. As shown in the Table , based on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formula for determining radon emissions from the White Mesa Mill liquid impoundments, the radon emissions from Cells 1, 4A, and 4B, have increased dramatically and average ~1,700 pCi/m2-sec (pico Curies per square meter per second), when the standard for older tailings impoundments is 20 pCi/m2-sec.
The 2014 Annual Wastewater Monitoring Report provided the following information regarding the reasons for the increase in gross radium alpha:
These conditions will continue, as Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. has announced that they will put the Mill on standby in early 2015. Therefore, there will continue to be high levels of radon emissions from the solutions in these 4 impoundments. Yet, the EPA and Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) have done nothing to address this situation. In fact, the EPA maintains that radon emissions from liquid impoundments are ZERO.
(UraniumWatch Jan. 15, 2015)
- During June, July, and August operating period fresh water was not added to the Mill process. Re-circulated tailings liquids were used for process water. Re-circulated fluids were then returned to the tailings system or evaporation ponds.
- From August 2013 to August 2014, the Mill's production was limited, resulting in less fresh water added to the Mill process and therefore to the cells. The decrease in the addition of fresh water resulted in concentration of existing fluids.
- Drought conditions resulted in less precipitation, therefore, less rainwater and storm water going into the cells. Drought also caused higher evaporation rates.
> Download UraniumWatch release, Jan. 15, 2015 (49k PDF)
> Download: 2014 Annual Wastewater Monitoring Report; Groundwater Quality Discharge Permit UGW370004, White Mesa Uranium Mill, November 24, 2014 (61MB PDF - UT DEQ)
Public comment invited on order regarding cleanup of chloroform groundwater contamination at White Mesa uranium mill
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Division of Radiation Control (DRC) is requesting public comment regarding a proposed Stipulation and Consent Order regarding Chloroform Ground Water Contamination Corrective Action at the White Mesa Uranium Mill Facility.
Submit comments prior to 5:00 p.m. on February 13, 2015.
> Access related documents (UT DEQ DRC)
Data shows unacceptably high levels of radon emissions at White Mesa uranium mill
Recent data shows high levels of radon emissions from processing effluents and other ponded liquids at the White Mesa Mill. The fluids are held in lined impoundments or in ponds on top of solid tailings. The liquids come from the uranium ore processing, dewatering of Cell 2, pumping of contaminated groundwater, and surface runoff.
For years the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed that these radium-laden liquids did not have to be monitored because the radon emissions were “zero.” Now, putting together an EPA formula that determined that for every 1,000 pico Curies per liter (pCi/l) of radium in the effluents at White Mesa, there were 7 pico Curies per meter squared per second (7 pCi/m2-sec) of radon emissions. Recent Energy Fuels Resources Inc. data on the radium content of the liquids shows that the radon emissions are far greater than the 20 pCi/m2-sec emission standard for the dry tailings in the older (“existing”) impoundments. The emissions from liquid tailings range from 102 to 573 pCi/m2-sec, which is 5 to 28 times the radon emission standard for solid tailings.
(UraniumWatch Nov. 2, 2014)
- Risk Assessment Revision for 40 CFR Part 61 Subpart W – Radon Emissions from Operating Mill Tailings (662k PDF): Task 5 – Radon Emission from Evaporation Ponds; S. Cohen and Associates, November 9, 2010; Table 6, page 17.
- White Mesa Mill 2013 Annual Tailings Wastewater Monitoring Report (82.9MB PDF); Groundwater Quality Discharge Permit, UGW370004, Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., November 1, 2013
- Non Privileged Records (July-Sept 2014, Part 1), pages 405-416.
Non Privileged Records (July-Sept 2014, Part 2), pages 1-3 and 200-246.
WHITE MESA - During an intense community meeting here, environmental groups and the Ute Mountain Tribe warned residents of health dangers if the EPA changes rules governing a nearby uranium mill.
Representatives from Grand Canyon Trust , Information Network for Responsible Mining , Uranium Watch and the tribe are urging the public to oppose removing national radon emission and waste-storage standards affecting the nearby White Mesa Uranium Mill, owned by Energy Fuels.
"Not knowing what the radon emissions are from the mill is a serious risk to public health in Blanding, White Mesa and Bluff," said Anne Mariah Tapp, an attorney for Grand Canyon Trust.
Tapp is concerned that radioactive toxins are released from six impoundments that store wastes from milling uranium ore into yellow cake. The concentrated uranium product is packed in barrels and shipped to make fuel rods for nuclear power plants.
Uranium mill critics are urging the EPA to not remove the 20 pico Curie radon emission standard for impoundments. Radon is a radioactive by-product of the uranium milling process.
Another concern is an EPA proposal to do away with a requirement that only two tailing impoundments can operate at a time, Tapp said.
(Cortez Journal Oct. 27, 2014)
> See also: EPA review and possible revision of radon emission standard for operating uranium mill tailings (40 CFR 61, Subpart W)
Group files challenge to Division of Radiation Control order affecting radon emissions from tailings of White Mesa uranium mill
Uranium Watch is challenging the Utah Div. of Radiation Control (DRC) July 23, 2014, Order regarding the closure of tailings Cell 2. The DRC ordered Energy Fuels Resources Inc. (EFRI) to cease placement of tailings and other waste in Cell 2. The DRC ordered EFRI to monitor the radon emissions twice a year and demonstrate compliance with the 20 pCi/m2-sec [0.74 Bq/m2-sec] radon emission standard until EFRI recalculates the dose to the nearest member of the public talking into consideration higher radon emissions from Cell 2. Based on the Order, Cell 2 would no longer fall under the Environmental Protection Agency standard for uranium tailings impoundments that were constructed before December 1989 (40 C.F.R. Subpart W, § 61.252(a)).
Uranium Watch's August 22, 2014, Request for Agency Action questioned the cessation of radon monitoring for Cell 2 as the impoundment continues to dry out. Uranium Watch questioned DRC's claim that Cell 2 is now in closure, yet there is no approved reclamation plan and no reclamation milestones in the White Mesa license, as required by both EPA and DRC regulation. (Uranium Watch Sep. 20, 2014)
> Download: DRC White Mesa Mill Order , July 23, 2014 (107k PDF - DEQ)
> Download: Uranium Watch Request for Agency Action , Aug. 22, 2014 (138k PDF)
Groundwater permit renewal
On June 5, 2014, Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. submitted a revised renewal application for the groundwater discharge permit of the White Mesa Mill.
> Download White Mesa Mill Renewal Application, State of Utah Groundwater Discharge Permit No. UGW370004, June 2014 (259M PDF)
Grand Canyon Trust (GCT) today (April 3) sued Energy Fuels Resources in Utah federal district court over ongoing radon pollution problems at its White Mesa uranium mill near Blanding and White Mesa, Utah. The suit aims to correct ongoing problems at the mill and to ensure resources are available for cleanup and reclamation.
(Grand Canyon Trust April 3, 2014)
(United States District Court, District of Utah: Grand Canyon Trust vs. Energy Fuels Resources Inc., Case No. 2:14-cv-00243-DBP)
> View GCT release April 3, 2014
> Download GCT complaint , April 2, 2014 (77kB PDF)
Judge dismisses Grand Canyon Trust lawsuit over excessive radon emissions from tailings at White Mesa mill:
A Utah federal judge has tossed an environmental group's Clean Air Act (CAA) lawsuit against uranium mill operator Energy Fuels Resources Inc. over allegedly excessive radon emissions, declining to second-guess the Utah state air regulator's finding that emissions tests performed by the company were valid.
On Friday (Sep. 15), U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups granted summary judgment to Energy Fuels and dismissed the Grand Canyon Trust's claims that the company had violated the CAA by allowing excessive radon emissions from waste disposal sites at the White Mesa Uranium Mill.
(Law360 Sep. 19, 2017)
[...] in a 50-page ruling Sept. 15, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups dismissed the case, agreeing with the company that state regulators applied incorrect standards in citing Clean Air Act violations, and that the Grand Canyon Trust misinterpreted federal regulations in its claim of too many waste cells.
The court concluded that Clean Air Act's Subpart W regulations for radon emissions are for "operating" waste cells, and since the mill's waste cell was in the closure process they did not apply. The spikes in radon were due to the dewatering of the cell as part of cell's reclamation procedures. (The Journal Nov. 5, 2017)
> Download: Memorandum Decision and Order, Case No. 2:14-cv-243 , United States District Court for the District of Utah, Sep. 15, 2017 (222k PDF)
Grand Canyon Trust issues legal notice to Energy Fuels over environmental issues with tailings at White Mesa mill
Ongoing violations of the Clean Air Act at the nation's only operating uranium mill have prompted Grand Canyon Trust to file a 60-day notice of intent to sue Energy Fuels Resources, the owner of the White Mesa Mill, located near White Mesa and Blanding, Utah.
In the notice Grand Canyon Trust cites data showing that in 2012 and 2013 the annual average radon-222 emissions at the mill exceeded hazardous air pollutant standards. It further alleges that, during that same time period, mill owners operated six tailings impoundments when only two are allowed, and that two of those are larger than the maximum allowed size of 40 acres.
> View Grand Canyon Trust release Jan. 29, 2014
> Download Grand Canyon Trust Notice of Intent to Sue, Jan. 29, 2014 (PDF)
White Mesa mill to be mothballed due to market conditions
Energy Fuels Inc. plans to fulfill its delivery contracts with stockpiled uranium and uranium purchased on the spot market, allowing it to discontinue current U3O8 production at the White Mesa Mill beginning in August 2014 until the latter half of 2015, at which time the mill is expected to re-commence processing alternate feed materials. The current spot price is lower than the company's production cost.
(Energy Fuels Inc. Nov. 14, 2013)
Radon emission exceeds standard at Tailings Cell 2 of White Mesa mill
The 2012 Annual Compliance Report for the emission of radon from the White Mesa Mill tailings impoundments reported that the radon flux for the 66-acre [27 ha] Cell 2 exceeded the standard in 2012. The Cell 2 emission of radon is 1.59 times the 20 pico Curie per square meter per second (pCi/m2/sec) [0.74 Bq/m2/sec] requirement for a tailings impoundment that exceeds 40 acres. Energy Fuels Resources Inc. (EFR) concluded that the increase in radon-222 flux from Cell 2 was caused by dewatering, and was unavoidable. In 2011 and 2012 EFR adopted an acclelerated dewatering program, based on the Ground Water Discharge Permit requirements. Cell 2 must also be dewatered to settle the tailings before the placement of the final radon barrier. The mill is required to have reclamation milestones for the placement of the interim cover, dewatering, and placement of the final radon barrier, but does not.
Due to the exceedance from Cell 2, EFR will be required to measure and report the radon flux on a monthly basis, starting April 2013.
The radon emissions will continue to increase during the dewatering process, which will take several years. EFR estimates that the radon emission levels will reach equilibrium, due to the depth of the tailings. Placement of additional fill will reduce the radon emissions. EFR estimates that the addition 1 foot to the interim cover reduce the average flux to within the standard, based on the estimated flux over the next year. EFR has proposed test plots with 1 foot of fill to determine if it will bring the emissions below the standard. If the tests are successful, the propose to add 1 foot of fill to the existing cover, to be completed by mid-2014.
They suggest this, even though they estimate that it will take 2 feet of fill to to reduce surface radon flux to below 20 pCi/m2/sec, regardless of the depth of dewatered tails.
(Uranium Watch June 8, 2013)
State regulator approves remediation plan for nitrate in groundwater at White Mesa Mill
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Radiation Control is requesting public comment regarding a proposed Stipulation and Consent Order, Docket No. UGW12-04 (Order) (including Attachment 1). The proposed Order is being issued to approve a corrective action plan for remediation of ground water contaminated with nitrate at the Denison Mines (USA) Corp. White Mesa Uranium Mill located near Blanding, Utah. A Public Notice and Statement of Basis provide more information about this Order.
Public comments are invited any time prior to 5:00 p.m. on August 22, 2012.
On Dec. 12, 2012, the Division of Radiation Control approved the Corrective Action Plan for nitrate at the White Mesa Mill.
> View related documents (UT DEQ DRC)
Nuclear Fuel Cycle closes for White Mesa Mill...
On Apr. 16, 2012, Energy Fuels Inc. (EFR) and Denison Mines Corp. announced that EFR will acquire all of Denison's mining assets and operations located in the United States from Denison.
The White Mesa Mill, once owned by Energy Fuels Nuclear, Inc., and intermediately owned by International Uranium Corp. and Denison Mines Corp., thus once again will be owned by a company going under the name of "Energy Fuels".
On June 29, 2012, Denison Mines Corp. announced the closing of its previously announced transaction whereby Energy Fuels Inc. will acquire all of the shares of the subsidiaries holding Denison's U.S. mining assets and operations.
New study finds mild contamination outside White Mesa uranium mill
A new government study has found radioactive contamination just off-site from a controversial uranium mill. But it may not be serious enough to bolster the arguments of the plant's critics.
White Mesa is the nation's only active uranium mill and is currently undergoing relicensing by the state. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe asked for an independent federal study, apparently because they didn't trust the company or state regulators.
The closest homes are more than a mile away, and those neighbors showed only a mild concern about the mill.
There's no cause for undue alarm, said David Naftz with the U.S. Geological Survey , because there are no people or drinking water sources near the area.
The Ute Tribe has battled the plant for years, insisting it poses a serious health threat on the reservation three miles away. In the latest study, federal scientists sampled dirt, sagebrush and springs. They found some radioactive hits just outside the plant boundary, the chemical fingerprints of uranium ore.
"And all of those fingerprints were high," Naftz said. He says it's probably windblown dust from trucks or the plant site itself.
"It looks like it's coming from uncovered ore storage pads, where they store the ore before it's processed at the mill site," he said.
If some of that contamination came from uncovered trucks, then that part of the problem has be resolved.
"In fact, BLM and the Utah Department of Transportation actually issued a memorandum about three years ago requiring these ore trucks to transport their materials covered," Naftz said.
But the contamination is mild and reaches, at most, a third of a mile from the site and preventing more contamination shouldn't be too hard, according to Naftz.
Naftz said covering the pads, or a more cost-effective remediation might be to install sprinkler systems to wet it down.
The federal scientists recommended drilling more monitoring wells as an early warning system in case there is groundwater contamination. The report also recommended periodic monitoring in areas where the study turned up evidence of off-site migration. It also recommended sampling of sagebrush by the company every three years.
(Deseret News Feb. 22, 2012)
> Download Assessment of Potential Migration of Radionuclides and Trace Elements from the White Mesa Uranium Mill to the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation and Surrounding Areas, Southeastern Utah , by David L. Naftz, Anthony J. Ranalli, Ryan C. Rowland, and Thomas M. Marston, USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5231, 2012, 146 p.
Utah DEQ invites comment on proposed license changes for White Mesa mill tailings cell 4B
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is soliciting comments on its proposed modifications to the existing Ground Water Quality Discharge Permit and an amendment to the Denison Mines (USA) Corp. Radioactive Materials License (RML UT1900479).
Public comments are invited any time prior to 5:00 p.m. on May 10, 2010.
> Download Public Notice of a Modification to the Groundwater Discharge Permit No. UGW37004 and an amendment to Radioactive Materials License No. UT1900479, April 6, 2010 (PDF - Utah DEQ)
> Download related documents (Utah DEQ)
Denison maintains that White Mesa mill is not the cause of excess nitrate and chloride concentrations found in groundwater at the mill site
A Contamination Investigation Report prepared by Intera on behalf of Denison Mines (USA) Corp. finds that "The nitrate and chloride are extensive and appear to originally come from the same source", but "That source is upgradient of the Mill property more than 1.2 miles from the Mill facilities, is not the result of Mill activities and was not caused or contributed to in any manner by Mill activities."
> Download Nitrate Groundwater Contaminant Investigation Report, Dec. 30, 2009 (Utah DEQ)
Groundwater Permit Renewal 2009
On Sep. 1, 2009, Denison Mines (USA) Corp. submitted a groundwater permit renewal application for its White Mesa Mill.
> Download permit renewal application Sep. 1, 2009 (UT DEQ)
State regulator seeks public comment on proposed modifications to White Mesa mill groundwater permit (Utah)
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is soliciting comments on its
proposed modifications to the existing Ground Water Quality Discharge Permit No. UGW370004 of the White Mesa mill in Blanding.
Public comments are invited any time prior to 5:00 p.m. on October 8, 2009.
> Download Public Notice Aug. 27, 2009 (PDF - Utah DEQ)
> Download draft permit and supporting documents (Utah DEQ)
License Renewal 2007
On Feb. 28, 2007, Denison Mines (USA) Corp. submitted a license renewal application for its White Mesa Mill.
> Download license renewal application Feb. 28, 2007 (UT DEQ)
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Division of Radiation Control (DRC) is soliciting comments on its proposal to renew an existing Radioactive Material License (License) for the Denison Mines, White Mesa Uranium Mill Facility near Blanding, Utah.
A 30-day public comment period will commence on Friday, October 14, 2011.
The public comment period has been extended to 5:00 pm on December 14, 2011.
> Download Public Notice (PDF) · Notice of Comment Period Extension (PDF)
> Download Draft Safety Evaluation Report For The Denison Mines White Mesa Mill 2007 License Renewal Application, October 2011 (PDF)
> Download Draft Revised Licence (PDF)
> Download Reclamation Plan White Mesa Mill Blanding Utah Revision 5.0, Sep. 29, 2011
First uranium from Daneros mine milled at White Mesa mill
> View here
White Mesa mill halts processing of uranium ores
Denison Mines President Ron Hochstein said that Denison's White Mesa Mill, the nation's only operating uranium mill, has ceased its regular milling operations for the remainder of 2009.
"We will stop processing conventional ore through 2009, but will be processing alternate feedstock on a reduced scale, and we'll be laying off some personnel," said Hochstein. "Our costs are higher than the current spot price."
(Telluride Daily Planet May 9, 2009)
Denison exceeds number of permitted truckloads hauling uranium ore from San Miguel County (Colorado) to White Mesa mill (Utah)
Denison Mines Corporation still has the only operating uranium mill in the country, and it is still pulling ore from just one place: San Miguel County. And according to San Miguel County officials, the company is hauling more than they agreed to in their permit.
Mike Rozycki, the county planner, said that the uranium company has exceeded the maximum number of 12 truckloads of ore per day outlined in their permit. Rozycki said that there had been a "misunderstanding," and that the company believed that the maximum number was an average, and that days with less traffic allowed them to haul more at other times.
"We put them on notice that we thought there was a violation," said Rozycki. "We had issues and concerns, and we will have a public hearing when they submit their amendment to the permit."
(Norwood Post Sep. 3, 2008)
Conventional ore processing commences at White Mesa Mill
On Apr. 29, 2008 Denison announced that processing of conventional ore at its White Mesa mill in Utah began on Monday April 28th, 2008.
Over the next 30 to 45 days, the mill will be processing uranium-only ore from the Tony M operation and will then switch to the uranium/vanadium ores from the company's Colorado Plateau mines. Currently, there are approximately 150,000 tons of ore from the various Company owned mines on the stockpile at the mill.
Denison is projecting production of between 1.4 and 1.7 million pounds of U3O8 (538 - 654 t U) and 3.0 to 4.0 million pounds of vanadium pentoxide from White Mesa in 2008.
IUC announces reopening of uranium mines
On June 14, 2006, International Uranium Corp. announced the re-opening of its U.S. uranium/vanadium mines. Mining activity will commence immediately and mined ore will be stockpiled at the Company's wholly-owned White Mesa uranium/vanadium mill in southeastern Utah.
The properties are in three distinct mining districts:
Based on current mine production schedules, processing of the ore would begin late fourth quarter 2007 or first quarter 2008, depending upon securing additional alternate feed material and third party ore. In the initial year, IUC anticipates producing approximately 3.4 million pounds of U3O8 [1308 t U] and 5.9 million pounds of vanadium, thereafter, averaging between 1.5 and 2 million pounds per year of U3O8 and vanadium.
(IUC June 14, 2006)
- Colorado Plateau: IUC intends to immediately commence mining activities at the Pandora, Topaz, Sunday and St. Jude mines. This will be followed by two additional mines in the Colorado Plateau region in early 2007. All of IUC's mines on the Colorado Plateau are fully permitted.
- Henry Mountains area: plans are to complete the permitting on the Tony M mine with production slated for late spring 2007. Development of the Bullfrog property will begin in the spring of 2007 and production is projected to begin mid-year 2008.
- Arizona Strip district: IUC will also review and revise the engineering estimates for the fully permitted Arizona 1 Mine with development scheduled to begin early 2007 and production beginning in late summer 2007.
White Mesa uranium mill to process monazite sands for uranium and REE contents
On Dec. 14, 2020, Energy Fuels Inc. announced that it has entered into a three-year supply agreement with The Chemours Company to acquire a minimum of 2,500 [short] tons per year of natural monazite sands. Energy Fuels expects to process this monazite at its 100%-owned White Mesa Mill starting in Q1-2021, recover the contained uranium, and produce a marketable mixed REE [rare earth element] carbonate.
The monazite sands will be from Chemours' Offerman Mineral Sand Plant in Georgia. Shipments of monazite sands from Georgia to the White Mesa Mill in Utah are expected to commence in the first quarter of 2021. The Company expects to recover uranium from the monazite and produce a commercially salable mixed REE carbonate containing ~71% TREO (dry basis). This REE product will be ready for REE separation, which is the next step in producing usable REE products.
Indigenous activists speak out against plans to import radioactive material for processing as alternate feed material at White Mesa uranium mill
Members of the Ute Mountain Ute community of White Mesa, which is located three miles from the mill site, spoke out against the mill's continued operation on Tuesday (Dec. 8) at an annual town hall event that was held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, which was sponsored by a coalition of 12 grassroots community groups and environmental organizations, featured presenters from across Indian Country who spoke about the legacy of uranium production and nuclear waste storage on Native Americans as well as the White Mesa Mill.
(The Salt Lake Tribune Dec. 10, 2020)
Tribe fears White Mesa uranium mill is becoming radioactive waste dump
Native tribes and environmental groups alike are worried that a Utah uranium-processing mill is becoming a dumping ground for foreign industrial polluters -- and that regulators are doing nothing to stop it.
The White Mesa Uranium Mill in San Juan County has begun accepting tons of radioactive waste from other countries. The mill's owner claims the shipments are uranium ore for processing, but Tim Peterson, cultural landscapes program director for the Grand Canyon Trust , said less than 1% of the material from nations such as Estonia and Japan becomes treated uranium. The rest is destined for the waste pits.
"They view it as waste, but when it comes into the U.S., it's regarded as something that the mill can accept and process without any sort of licensing, without any public notice, without any public comment," he said. "We're concerned that the White Mesa mill not become the world's radioactive waste dump."
Peterson said the nearby Ute Mountain Ute tribe fears toxic pollution will spread to their native lands and the nearby Bears Ears National Monument. A Utah Department of Environmental Quality spokesman said the White Mesa mill currently meets all state and federal licensing requirements.
(Public News Service Sep. 30, 2020)
Processing of uranium-bearing material from Japan as alternate feed at White Mesa uranium mill
A proposal to ship 136 tons of radioactive material from two atomic research sites in Japan across the Pacific Ocean to the White Mesa Mill just south of Blanding was approved in July without public hearings.
The material from Japan is a mix of natural uranium-bearing ores and materials left over from testing uranium extraction techniques by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, including uranium-loaded sands, resins and carbon.
Energy Fuels, the company that submitted the applications, argued the Japanese materials should be classified as ore or ore equivalents under Nuclear Regulatory Commission definitions, meaning it would follow the same regulatory process as if Energy Fuels were importing freshly mined ore from a Canadian uranium mine. Phil Goble, manager of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality's Uranium Mills Radioactive Materials program said the state agreed with that assessment.
(Salt Lake Tribune Sep. 16, 2020)
Energy Fuels envisages REE processing at White Mesa uranium mill
On April 13, 2020, Energy Fuels Inc. announced its entry into the Rare Earth Element ("REE") sector.
"Energy Fuels believes its fully licensed and constructed White Mesa Mill ("WMM"), which is the only uranium and vanadium mill in operation in the U.S. today, can play a key role in bringing the REE supply chain back to the U.S. from China. The Company's primary business is - and will remain - uranium mining and production. However, Energy Fuels believes it can leverage its existing licenses, infrastructure and capabilities at the WMM to also produce REEs. [...]
Energy Fuels has engaged ANSTO based in Sydney, Australia, one of the world's leading experts in the REE sector and management of radioactive materials, to assist in testing, mineralogy, flowsheet development and pilot plant engineering at the White Mesa Mill, to help advance this initiative."
Processing of water treatment residues from Moffat Tunnel as alternate feed at White Mesa uranium mill
On Dec. 23, 2019, Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. submitted a license amendment application for its White Mesa uranium mill to process up to 5,000 short tons (dry weight) of residues resulting from treatment of groundwater pumped from the Moffat Tunnel, a 10 km railroad tunnel cutting through the Continental Divide in north-central Colorado.
The water treatment plant at Winter Park produces a maximum of approximately 100 short tons of residue per year on a wet basis, or approximately 25 short tons per year on a dry basis. Future expansion of the tunnel would double those amounts. The residue contains 0.45 - 0.49% U on a dry weight basis, comparable to Arizona Strip uranium ores.
[For the current annual production of 25 short tons on a dry basis, this corresponds to a uranium contents of 107 kg U (or 277 lb U3O8) per year.]
The "tailings" resulting from processing of the residue at the White Mesa Mill would be disposed in the mill's tailings dam.
> Download: Moffat Tunnel Alternate Feed Request , Dec. 23, 2019 (94.5MB PDF - Utah DEQ)
> See also: Utah DEQ invites comment on proposed license amendments for processing of a variety of materials at White Mesa uranium mill
Processing of residues from Silmet niobium and tantalum production plant (Estonia) as alternate feed at White Mesa uranium mill
On Apr. 24, 2019, Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. submitted a license amendment application for its White Mesa uranium mill to process residues from the processing of columbite and tantalite mineral ores at NPM Silmet OÜ's tantalum and niobium production plant in Sillamäe, Estonia.
The quantity of the residues is 600 metric tonnes, currently stored in over 2000 drums. Because the Silmet plant has approached its licensed storage limit, the niobium and tantalum recovery had to be temporarily suspended.
The residues contain 0.14 - 0.35 (average 0.23) dry weight percent of natural uranium, so the total amount of uranium contained is 1.38 metric tonnes. The thorium-232 concentration is 542 - 2,160 pCi/g (20 - 80 Bq/g) dry weight basis.
> Download: Silmet Alternate Feed Request , Apr. 24, 2019 (91.4MB PDF - Utah DEQ)
[N.B.: At the Sillamäe site, also a uranium mill operated from 1944 - 1990. The associated uranium mill tailings deposit was reclaimed between 1999 and 2009, see here.]
> See also: Utah DEQ invites comment on proposed license amendments for processing of a variety of materials at White Mesa uranium mill
Leaking barrels with alternate feed material originating from Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant arrive at White Mesa mill
"On January 12, 2017, at approximately 1142 MST, a TAM International van carrying barrels of KOH alternate feed materials from Honeywell International arrived at the White Mesa Mill Scale house. According to Honeywell the materials are basically uranium ore concentrates. The White Mesa employees began unloading the van, but as they began offloading some of the last barrels, they noticed that some of the barrels were leaking. From what they could tell, three barrels were potentially leaking. The barrels were not rusted through, but were 'soft' and allowed liquid contained in the solid materials to leak from the barrel. The material leaked from the barrel onto a plastic sheet; however, the plastic sheet had an opening (rip, tear) through which the material was able to pass. [...] it is likely that only small quantities of materials were leaking from the van.[...]
At the last verification, the Honeywell KOH material contained, approximately 633,000 mg/kg uranium (about 61% uranium), 39 pCi/g Pb-210, 44.6 pCi/g Ra-226, 358 pCi/g Th-230, and 27 pCi/g Th-232."
> View NRC Event No. 52488 Notification , Jan. 13, 2017
> See also: NRC issues Notice of Violation to Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant for failure to prevent leakage from shipping container
Ute tribe and environmentalists opposed to processing of residues from former Gore conversion plant as alternate feed at White Mesa uranium mill:
More than 10,000 tons of radioactive waste has been delivered from the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma to the White Mesa Mill south of Blanding, Utah, in order to extract and recycle the uranium.
The removal was celebrated by the Cherokee Nation, but environmental groups and a Ute Mountain Tribe town, also named White Mesa, near the mill are less thrilled about the facility accepting, milling and storing hazardous waste.
[...] Yolanda Badback, a Ute Mountain Ute and member of the White Mesa Concerned Community group critical of the mill, said that while she's glad the Cherokee are safer, there is an unintended consequence for her community.
"All those trucks driving the waste through this area is disturbing," she said. "Our community lives downstream from the mill and those waste ponds, so that has always been a worry because we rely on well water."
Amber Reimondo, Energy Program Director for the Grand Canyon Trust, said the White Mesa Mill was designed 40 years ago to process mined uranium ore, not radioactive waste.
"The cycle of exposing tribal communities to radioactive waste continues as the Cherokee Nations is finally relieved of this dangerous material and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe sees it put in their front yard," she said in a statement to The Journal.
(The Journal Dec. 14, 2018)
Uranium sludge at former Gore, Oklahoma, conversion plant removed to White Mesa mill, Utah:
> View: here
Denison requests license amendment for processing of residues from former Gore conversion plant as alternate feed at White Mesa mill:
On Dec. 15, 2011, Denison Mines submitted to Utah DEQ an amendment request to process raffinate sludges resulting from purification and conversion of natural uranium concentrates (yellowcake) from the decommissioning of Sequoyah Fuel's Gore conversion plant (Oklahoma) as an Alternate Feed Material at the White Mesa Mill.
> See Sequoyah Fuels Corporation Alternate Feed Request (Utah DRC)
In April 2017, DEQ invited comments on the proposed license amendment to authorize the receipt and processing of this material.
On Jan. 19, 2018, DEQ approved the requested license amendement.
> See here
Processing of Midnite Mine residues as alternate feed at White Mesa mill
On April 27, 2011, Denison Mines submitted to Utah DEQ an amendment request to process up to 4,500 short tons (dry weight) water treatment plant residues from Dawn Mining Corporation's Midnite Mine (Washington) as an Alternate Feed Material at the White Mesa Mill.
On Sep. 4, 2013, DEQ issued a Public Notice inviting public comment on the request.
Submit comments by October 21, 2013.
On July 10, 2014, DEQ issued License Amendment 7 authorizing the requested alternate feed processing.
> See Dawn Mining Corporation Midnite Mine Alternate Feed Request (Utah DRC)
On Aug. 11, 2014, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe filed a Petition to Intervene against the approval of the processing of Midnite Mine residues as alternate feed at the White Mesa mill.
> View Request for Agency Action by Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (Utah DRC)
Utah to put environmental files online
> See here
Processing of Fansteel residues as alternate feed at White Mesa mill
On Feb. 2, 2007, the Utah Radiation Control Board decided, 7-3, to uphold a permit granted in 2006 to the International Uranium Corp. for its Blanding mill by the state Division of Radiation Control for processing residues from FMRI Inc., in Muskogee, Okla. (Salt Lake Tribune Feb. 3, 2007)
> Download Hearing Transcript Jan. 26, 2007 (511k PDF)
> Download Hearing Transcript Feb. 2, 2007 (110k PDF)
On Sep. 8, 2006, the Utah Radiation Control Board cleared the way for the Glen Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club to challenge the "alternate feed" rule that allows the International Uranium Corp. mill to recycle material from FMRI Inc., in Muskogee, Okla.
Sarah M. Fields of the Sierra Club has said the Oklahoma material is not "alternate feed." It contains high radium concentrations - as much as 85 times the concentrations federal and state laws allow - so International Uranium should be regulated like a radioactive waste disposal site, she said.
The material also contains large quantities of highly toxic contaminants - including cyanide, lead and tin - that require the site to be regulated as a hazardous waste facility, she said.
(Salt Lake Tribune Sep. 13, 2006)
The Glen Canyon Group of the Sierra Club's nuclear-waste committee has filed a petition with the Utah Division of Radiation Control to stop the waste coming from FMRI Inc., in Muskogee, Okla., into Utah.
(Deseret News July 19, 2006)
On June 13, 2006 the Utah Division of Radiation Control (DRC) has authorized the International Uranium Corporation (IUC) to receive and process alternate feed material from Ponds 2 and 3 of the FMRI's Muskogee Facility located in Muskogee, Oklahoma at IUC's White Mesa uranium mill facility located near Blanding in San Juan County, Utah.
- Cover Sheet (PDF)
- Public Participation Summary - License Amendment Application No. 2 (PDF)
- License Amendment # 2 - License Number UT1900479 (PDF)
- Groundwater Discharge Permit - Permit No. UGW370004 (PDF)
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality is Soliciting Comments on a Proposed Amendment to International Uranium (USA) Corporation's Radioactive Materials License UT1900479 to Allow Acceptance and Processing of an Alternate Feedstock Material. The IUSA submitted a License amendment application to amend its State License to receive and process alternate feed material from Fansteel’s FMRI facility located near Muskogee, Oklahoma (the "Muskogee Facility"). The proposed amendment would allow IUSA to receive and process up to 32,000 short tons of alternate feed material from the Muskogee Facility for its uranium content. The FMRI alternate feed materials are residues resulting from ore processing for the extraction of tantalum and niobium, i.e. byproducts of FMRI processing operations.
> Download DEQ Public Notice, Nov. 2, 2005 (PDF)
> Download DEQ Public Notice Nov. 22, 2005 (PDF)
IUC forms joint venture with NFS to recycle DOE's contaminated low enriched uranium
"International Uranium Corporation
(the "Company") is pleased to announce that it has formed a 50/50
joint venture company, "Urizon Recovery Systems, LLC", with
Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. ("NFS") to pursue the development of
a new, long-term, alternate feed program (the "USM Ore(TM)
Program") for the Company's White Mesa Mill that, if successful,
is expected to result in the Mill producing two to three million
pounds of yellowcake [containing 769 to 1154 metric tonnes U] per year over at least a six-year period. [...]
The USM Ore(TM) Program that Urizon is pursuing involves the
development of a process and construction of a plant at NFS' facility in Erwin, Tennessee, for the blending of contaminated
low enriched uranium with depleted uranium to produce a natural
uranium ore ("USM Ore(TM)"). The USM Ore(TM) will then be further
processed at the Company's White Mesa Mill to produce
The primary source of feed for Urizon will be the significant
quantities of contaminated materials within the DOE complex. [...]"
(IUC Nov. 14, 2002)
However, on Jan. 29, 2004, IUC announced that DOE had refused Urizon's request to fund the design costs of the USM Ore(TM) processing facility.
Alternate feed processing run at White Mesa Mill underway
The White Mesa Mill has begun processing the Ashland 1 FUSRAP (Formerly Utilized Site Remedial Action Program) material. As of mid August 2002, the Mill had processed over 40,000 tons of material. Currently the Mill has additional stockpiles of over 200,000 tons of Ashland 1 and Linde material, which will be processed during this mill run.
In addition, IUC has a contract with Molycorp, Inc. for receipt and processing of approximately 10,000 tons of uranium-bearing material. This material may begin arriving at the Mill in mid-September 2002, pending resolution of a regulatory hearing. (IUC Aug. 29, 2002)
EPA expresses concerns about expansion of alternate feed business
In a letter to NRC dated Jan. 16, 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expresses concerns about the proposed expansion of the processing of alternate feed at uranium mills and calls for a thorough review:
"[...] Mill tailings impoundments were designed to serve as a long-term control measure for radon and other hazardous emissions from source material extraction wastes, and to prevent radiation exposures resulting from inadvertent uses of these wastes by members of the public. It appears that these impoundments are being suggested by the petitioner to serve in a different capacity than for which they were designed and approved. Additional uses as a long-term repository (disposal) for a wide variety and volume of low-level, mixed, and hazardous wastes require appropriate consideration. Such consideration would include a formal review of the new uses for these facilities under the National Environmental Policy Act and possibly licensing and authorization under other relevant environmental statutes. To the extent that some of these suggested wastes might not be regulated under the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (e.g., pre-1978 mill tailings), other environmental authorities might still apply.
> Download EPA comment (1215k PDF)
Such a review may very well conclude that these additional new wastes have no significant impact on the impoundment designs and that environmental authorities are satisfied. However, suggested uses such as 'new alternatives to current disposal options' for large volumes of low-level radioactive waste, and other wastes, deserve a thorough review to ensure the uranium recovery facilities continue to be protective, and the public is aware of the proposed change in the use of these facilities. [...]"
IUC requests license amendment to process material from Maywood FUSRAP Site, NJ
By letter dated June 15, 2001, IUC requests a license amendment for processing of up to 600,000 cubic yards (840,000 short tons) of Uranium Material from the Maywood FUSRAP site in New Jersey. The Uranium Material at this site originated from uranium and thorium-bearing monazite sands. Its uranium content ranges from non-detectable to approximately 0.06 weight percent uranium (0.072 weight percent U308), or greater, with an estimated average grade of 0.0018 percent uranium (0.0022 weight percent U308) for the entire Maywood Site. However, IUC intends to accept Uranium Material for processing at the Mill only if a cut-off level of 0.01 weight percent uranium is satisfied (IUC letter Aug.3, 2001).
> See also: Federal Register: Aug. 23, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 164) p. 44384-44385 (download full notice )
Hearing requests were submitted by the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, the City of Moab, and John Darke (FR Oct. 9, 2001, p.51478 )
On Sep 21, 2001, NRC issued its Draft Environmental Assessment
for the Maywood Alternate Feed Request. "The NRC staff has concluded that there are no significant environmental impacts associated with the proposed action."
On Aug. 22, 2002, NRC issued a Finding of No Significant Impact for the processing of the Maywood material.
> Federal Register: August 29, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 168) p. 55435-55436 (download full text )
Members of the public may provide comments on the subject application within 30 days of August 29, 2002.
Walk Against Nuclear Waste
Citizens and environmental groups in southern Utah held a "Walk Against Nuclear Waste" in the last week of May 2001. More than 40 individuals walked simultaneously from Blanding (San Juan County) to Moab. The eighty-mile walk, led by longtime San Juan County activist Ken Sleight, followed U.S. Highway 191. Cosponsoring groups included Moab-based Living Rivers, Glen Canyon Action Network, and the Sierra Club Glen Canyon Group, as well as HEAL-UTAH from Salt Lake City. The groups opposed IUCs recent application to process radioactive lead waste from a site in California. They fear the White Mesa site will end up in similar mess as the Atlas Moab uranium mill tailings site. The groups demanded the closure of the mill and the cleanup of the mill site. (ENN June 7, 2001)
IUC requests license amendment to process material from Molycorp Site, CA
Federal Register: Jan. 9, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 6) p. 1702-1703 (download full notice ):
"SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission has received, by letter dated December 19, 2000, a request
from International Uranium (USA) Corporation (IUSA), to amend its NRC
Source Material License SUA-1358, to allow its White Mesa Uranium Mill
near Blanding, Utah, to receive and process up to 17,750 tons of
alternate feed material from the Molycorp Site located in Mountain
Pass, California. The material is a result of extraction of lathanides
and other rare earth minerals and is presently being stored in ponds as
lead sulfide sludge. IUSA and Molycorp estimate the amount of material
for this amendment request to be up to 17,750 tons and the average
uranium content of the material to be approximately 0.15 percent, or
greater. IUSA proposes to receive and process the material for its
uranium content and dispose of the byproduct material in the mill's
(The above mentioned IUC letter to NRC is available through ADAMS )
On Nov. 30, 2001, NRC staff issued its final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the proposed action.
> see Federal Register Dec. 11, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 238) p.64064-64066
> see also correction in Federal Register Dec. 18, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 243) p.65232
On December 11, 2001, the NRC issued the requested license amendment, on condition that adequate tailings space were available. Otherwise, IUC would have to submit another license amendment request.
On January 30, 2002, an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board granted the hearing requests filed by William E. Love and by the Sierra Club (LBP-02-06).
IUC requests license amendment to process material from Lakehurst, NJ
Federal Register: July 17, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 137) p. 44078-44079 (download full notice ):
"SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission has received, by letter dated July 5, 2000, a request from
International Uranium (IUSA) Corporation to amend its NRC Source
Material License SUA-1358, to allow its White Mesa Uranium Mill near
Blanding, Utah, to receive and process up to 2000 cubic yards of
alternate feed material from the Heritage Minerals Site located in
Lakehurst, New Jersey. The Heritage site is in decommissioning under
NRC Source Materials License No. SMB-1541. The Final Status Survey Plan
(''Decommissioning Plan'') includes the removal of a monazite sand pile
for shipment off-site. IUSA proposes to process the material for it's
uranium content and dispose of the tailings in their tailings cells."
A request for hearing must be filed within 30 days of July 17, 2000.
(The above mentioned IUC letter to NRC is available through ADAMS )
Tailings capacity at White Mesa mill insufficient for proposed processing of more alternate feed
At the request of NRC, IUC had to admit that the currently available tailings capacity at its White Mesa mill is not sufficient for the requested processing of more alternate feed material.
The currently licensed activities would result in 1,150,550 tons of tailings, while the current capacity is 1,174,000 tons, leaving 23,450 tons of remaining capacity. The requested processing of the W.R. Grace material would add 108,000 tons, and potential alternate feed material from other sources (i.e. Linde, Molycorp and Heritage Minerals) would add another 146,200 tons. (1 short ton = 0.907185 metric tonnes)
(IUC letter to NRC, dated May 5, 2000, available through ADAMS )
USACE agrees to request State approval before sending further material for alternate feed processing at White Mesa mill
The Army Corps of Engineers has now agreed to not send additional shipments of radioactive mill tailings to the White Mesa uranium mill near Blanding without prior approval of the State of Utah. The agreement, however, does not extend to the Army Corp's current contract with International Uranium Corp., the owners of the White Mesa mill, to reprocess thousands of tons of radioactive soils from the FUSRAP site in Tonawanda, New York. (Deseret News, April 25, 2000)
Questions raised about quality of alternate feed material from Tonawanda FUSRAP site
"Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency has launched a criminal investigation into early disposal efforts in Tonawanda, probing whether the contractors hired by the Corps mishandled waste and even manipulated data to disguise radioactive material as less dangerous garbage. California regulators are investigating, too; they claim that more than 2,000 tons of Tonawanda debris was buried illegally at a San Joaquin Valley dump without a federal radioactive waste license. On Wednesday, a Senate committee will hold a hearing on the broader Corps decision to dispose of many of its Manhattan Project leftovers in such landfills." (Washington Post, April 10, 2000)
Note: the hearing on "Low activity radioactive waste" before the Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works had been scheduled for April 12, 2000, but was postponed.
"Some of those materials have made it to the White Mesa mill near Blanding where they are reprocessed for uranium left behind from the original processing." (Deseret News, April 25, 2000)
IUC requests license amendment to process material from Chattanooga, TN
By letter dated April 12, 2000, International Uranium (USA) Corporation requests a license amendment to process 93,000 cubic yards (71,108 cubic meters) material with an estimated average grade of 0.74 percent uranium from the W.R. Grace Corp. site in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as alternate feed in its White Mesa mill, Utah.
The uranium-bearing material results from the processing of monazite sands for the extraction of thorium and other rare earth minerals. A consortium of four companies - Heavy Minerals Company, Crane Company, Vitro Corporation and Pichney Company - began operations at the Chattanooga site in 1957. W.R. Grace purchased the facility in 1965 and continued operations until 1983.
A request for hearing must be filed within 30 days of May 5, 2000.
> View Federal Register: May 5, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 88) p. 26243-26244
(full text of license amendment request available through ADAMS )
IUC requests license amendment to process more material from Tonawanda, NY
In a letter dated March 16, 2000, International Uranium (USA) Corp. requests a license amendment to process 100,000 cubic yards (76,460 cubic meters) material with an estimated average grade of 0.07 percent uranium from the Linde site in Tonawanda NY as alternate feed in its White Mesa mill, Utah.
The previous license amendments had granted approval for processing the portion of Linde Material that had been transferred to Ashland 1 and 2. This amendment request seeks authorization to process the remainder of the Uranium Material at the original generation and storage site at Linde .
A request for hearing must be filed within 30 days of May 5, 2000.
> View Federal Register: May 5, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 88) p. 26242-26243
(full text of license amendment request available through ADAMS )
NRC affirms judge's decision for alternate feed processing
On Feb. 10, 2000, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission affirmed the decision of a federal administrative judge in favour of processing of alternate feed material at IUC's White Mesa mill in Utah (see LBP-99-5). The ruling implies the company can take any suitable waste as long as it contains at least some uranium.
(Salt Lake Tribune Feb. 18, 2000)
> View Memorandum and Order CLI-00-01
Utah seeking State regulation of uranium mills and tailings
The State of Utah plans to extend its Agreement State status with the U.S. NRC to the regulation of uranium mills and tailings. This would allow the State to regulate the controversial alternate feed processing at the White Mesa mill by its own. [MORE]
Contaminated Tonawanda material spilled in truck accident
On Sep 29, 1999, a truck carrying 20 tons of contaminated material originating from the Ashland 1 FUSRAP site at Tonawanda destined for processing in the White Mesa Mill tipped over near Cisco, Utah, spilling about half of its contents.
(NRC Preliminary Notification Sep 30, 1999 )
NRC approves processing of St.Louis FUSRAP material at White Mesa mill
"Staff Approves Alternate Feed Amendment for White Mesa Uranium Mill
> See also: Federal Register: May 4, 1999 (Vol. 64, No. 85) p. 23876-23877 (download full text )
On July 28, 1999, the staff approved an amendment to the International
Uranium Corporation's White Mesa uranium mill license, authorizing the
company to receive and process uranium bearing material from the St. Louis ,
Missouri, Formerly Utilized Site Remedial Action Plan (FUSRAP) site. The
company intends to recover uranium from the material, estimated to be as
much as one million pounds, and dispose of the process tailings in the
facility's impoundment. The company has also been authorized to process
similar material from the Ashland 1 and 2 FUSRAP sites." (NRC Weekly Information Report for the Week ending July 30, 1999)
Utah Radiation Control Board adopts and suspends rule on alternate feed
On April 9, 1999, the Utah Radiation Control Board adopted a rule setting a requirement for a minimum uranium contents of 0.05% for materials to be accepted as alternate feed material for processing in a uranium mill.
This rule meanwhile was tabled (= suspended).
Utah House passes bill on alternate feed processing at uranium mills
On February 25, 1999, the Utah House passed in a 65-3 vote the revised Brown Bill H.B. 324 S1. The Bill was introduced in the Utah Senate the same day. The bill would make low level waste regulations applicable to the processing of alternate feed material at the White Mesa mill.
> View HB324S1 text · HB324S1 status
State complaints about the planned processing of uranium contaminated material from Tonawanda, NY, at the White Mesa uranium mill near Blanding are unfounded, a federal administrative judge ruled on February 9, 1999 (LBP-99-5).
Utah State officials objected to the shipments, noting IUC received $4,050,000 to handle a material that contained no more than $600,000 worth of uranium. Bill Sinclair called this "sham disposal" because uranium extraction was only a pretext to dispose of the waste in the mill's tailings pond.
The Utah Division of Radiation Control is looking at the possibility of an appeal to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (The Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 11, 1999 )
IUC plans to process waste material from St. Louis area
International Uranium Corp (IUC) is planning to request another NRC licence amendment for its White Mesa mill in Utah. IUC wants to process more uranium-bearing material from old defence industry property, with alternate feed stock coming from the St Louis area. IUC is already processing 'Formerly Utilised Sites Remedial Action Programme' (Fusrap) material from a New York site at White Mesa. (Uranium Institute News Briefing 99.05, Feb. 3, 1999)
IUC wants to process more material from Tonawanda, NY
"SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) has received an application, by letter dated October 15, 1998, from International Uranium (USA) Corporation (IUC) to amend NRC Source Material License No. SUA-1358. By this submittal, IUC is requesting NRC approval to process, at IUC's White Mesa Uranium Mill, uranium-bearing material received from the Ashland 1 and Seaway Area D Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) sites, near Tonawanda, New York." [...]
Processing of the above material was licensed by NRC on February 3, 1999.
"Pursuant to Sec. 2.1205(a), any person whose interest may be affected by this proceeding may file a request for a hearing. In accordance with Sec. 2.1205(c), a request for a hearing must be filed within thirty (30) days from the date of publication of this Federal Register notice." (Federal Register notice Nov 3, 1998 (Vol. 63, No. 212) p. 59340 )
ASLBP grants petition for a hearing of the State of Utah Re: Receipt of Material From Tonawanda, NY
"Pursuant to the Presiding Officer's Memorandum and Order of
September 1, 1998, the petition for a hearing of the State of Utah has
been granted. This proceeding will be conducted pursuant to 10 CFR Part
2, Subpart L, which requires written presentations. The State alleges
that the Ashland 2 materials permitted to be shipped to International Uranium (USA) Corporation contain hazardous waste and that its handling and disposal could violate applicable law and could harm wildlife and natural resources, including ground and surface water. A person whose
interest may be affected, including a State, county, municipality or an
agency thereof, may file a request to participate within 30 days. See
10 CFR 2.1205(e, j, k)." (Federal Register notice Oct 15, 1998 (Vol. 63, No. 199) p. 55412 )
NRC schedules meeting September 17, 1998 in Blanding, Utah
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting September 17 in
Blanding, Utah, to discuss regulatory oversight of the International Uranium
Corporation's nearby White Mesa uranium mill.
> View NRC News Release No.98-157 (Sept. 3, 1998)
Utah uranium mill seeks licence to process wastes from Canadian refinery and conversion plants
International Uranium Corp. is reported to be seeking regulatory permission to recycle uranium-bearing materials from Cameco 's Blind River and Port Hope refinery and conversion plants at its White Mesa mill in Utah. If NRC and Canadian approval is granted, IUC plans to process of fluoride product, filter ash, calcined product and regeneration product from the Canadian plants. (UI News Briefing 98.31)
White Mesa mill (Utah) receives license to process alternate feed material from Tonawanda (New York) FUSRAP site
"Acceptance of Uranium Mill Licensee Request to Process Alternate Feedstock Material
On June 23, 1998, the Uranium Recovery Branch, Division of Waste Management
(DWM) approved the International Uranium Corporation's (IUSA's) request to receive and process uranium-bearing materials from the Ashland 2 site,
Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) site, near Tonawanda, New York. The material in question, consisting of approximately
24,000 to 25,000 dry tons of uranium ore processing residues and
contaminated soils that are associated with activities conducted by the
Manhattan Engineering District during the mid-1940s, will be received and
processed at IUSA's White Mesa uranium mill, located near Blanding, Utah. The material is considered alternate feedstock, and the staff processing of such amendments was recently discussed at a June 17, 1998, Commission
Meeting with the National Mining Association . The Ashland 2 site, as well as other FUSRAP sites, are under the management of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE ). In accepting this request, the DWM staff also is supporting the USACE's objective of a cost-effective method of cleaning up FUSRAP sites." (NRC Weekly Information Report for the Week Ending June 26, 1998)
> View F.A.C.T.S. (For A Clean Tonawanda Site) information on Tonawanda FUSRAP site
Utah uranium mill seeks general license for alternate feed material
International Uranium Corporation (IUC)
is requesting NRC approval for a performance-based license
condition (PBLC) regarding the acceptance of alternate feed
materials for processing at its White Mesa Uranium Mill, located
near Blanding, Utah. In the past, the NRC has granted approval
to IUC for the processing of alternate feed materials on several
occasions. With this license condition, IUC would no longer have
to seek NRC approval on a case-by-case basis.
Any person whose interest may be affected by this proceeding may
file a request for a hearing within 30 days from April
> See notice in Federal Register, April 14, 1998
(Vol. 63, No. 71), p. 18236
Uranium Recovery Licensee Meeting with Deputy Executive Director for Regulatory Programs
"On May 12, 1998, the Deputy Executive Director for Regulatory Programs, the
Directors of the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards and
Division of Waste Management, and staff from the Uranium Recovery Branch,
met with representatives of International Uranium (USA) Corporation (IUC).
The purpose of this Meeting was to discuss IUC's proposal to modify the
staff's "Final Position and Guidance on the Use of Uranium Mill Feed
Materials Other Than Natural Ores," which was published in the Federal
Register on September 22, 1995. IUC officially submitted the proposed
modifications to the Commission on May 6, 1998.
IUC's presentation focused on two aspects of the staff's "alternate feed"
guidance: (1) the prohibition of uranium mill licensees to receive and
process materials containing hazardous wastes regulated by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and (2) the need for mill licensees
to address financial considerations in support of any application to
receive and process alternate feed materials. When the staff raised
concerns about the potential for dual regulation with EPA at mill sites,
IUC stated its willingness to have issues related to hazardous materials
addressed at some later Time. If this component was removed from IUC's
proposal, the staff expressed some question about the need for the proposal
given that IUC has received license amendments in the past allowing it to
process alternate feed materials at the White Mesa uranium mill. The staff
also noted that, while it agreed with many of IUC's points concerning the
requirement to address financial considerations, a Presiding Officer's
decision on an earlier Hearing matter raised the need to consider an
economics test in the processing of alternate feed materials.
Also in attendance at this Meeting were representatives from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers (USACE), which manages the Formerly Utilized Sites
Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP ). Much of the material on FUSRAP sites can be considered as alternate feed materials, and the USACE sees recycling this material as a cost-effective way of cleaning up FUSRAP sites." (U.S. NRC Weekly Information Report for the Week Ending May 15, 1998)
NRC Authorizes Utah Uranium Mill to Receive and Process
Material from Pennsylvania
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has granted a request
from International Uranium Corporation
to receive and process uranium-bearing material from the Cabot
Corporation's facility near Boyertown, Pennsylvania, at
International Uranium's NRC-licensed White Mesa uranium mill near
View NRC Press Release (Aug.15, 1997)
Leaking Cabot containers discovered in Toronto
On October 27, 1997, the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB)
(Canada) notified the NRC and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
that liquid leakage was discovered in Toronto, Canada from
intermodal containers marked as containing radioactive material
that were shipped by railroad from Cabot Corporation (Cabot),
Boyertown, Pennsylvania. The material in the containers is a
clay-like residue resulting from processing of ores containing
uranium and thorium to recover tantalum. The residue contains
about 1 percent total uranium and thorium by weight in an
View NRC Preliminary Notifications PNO-I-97-066 (Oct.28, 1997) and PNO-I-97-066A (Nov.17, 1997) .
> Download NOV and Civil Penalty History for the DUSA Mines Uranium Mill (PDF - Utah DEQ)
Solution freeboard limit exceeded in tailings disposal cell #3
On July 30, 2010, wastewater elevation in the Mill's tailings Cell 3 exceeded the freeboard limit for that Cell by approximately 7.2 inches [18.3 cm].
(Denison Mines Aug. 4, 2010, letter to Utah DEQ )
IUC fails to keep record of exact disposal locations in tailings disposal cell
"The licensee had failed since CY 2002 to maintain records that documented the specific location of each 11e.(2) shipment buried in Tailing Cell No. 3. This failure to maintain records was identified as a violation of License Condition 10.5(D)"
(NRC Inspection Report 40-08681/03-001 and Notice of Violation, Aug. 25, 2003 , ADAMS Acc. No. ML032370365)
Solution freeboard limit exceeded in tailings disposal cell #3
Between late February and mid March 2003, the solution freeboard limit in tailings disposal cell #3 was exceeded by up to 0.41 feet (12.5 cm). According to IUC, this was due to a number of factors, including:
"The potential for the exceedance to have contributed to a breach or overtopping of the Cell 3 dike is highly unlikely", according to IUC.
- An error in the survey co-ordinates in the spreadsheet used to calculate the
- A problem with the pump used to transfer tailings solutions from Cell 3 to
- A number of rain events over the past several days.
Source: Annual Technical Evaluation of the White Mesa Uranium Mill Tailings Management System For the Period of June 2002 through May 2003, International Uranium (USA) Corporation, by Harold R. Roberts, P.E., June 18-19, 2003
Empty Transportation Containers Exceeding Contamination Limits
NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-IV-00-008 (March 2, 2000)
High Chloroform levels found in groundwater
Chloroform at levels 47 times higher than allowed by Utah state rules was found in a groundwater monitoring well at the White Mesa uranium mill. The discovery prompted the Utah Department of Environmental Quality to issue a "notice of violation" of the state's groundwater-protection rules. Denver-based International Uranium Corp. was given 30 days to develop a plan to determine the source of the contamination. (Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, Aug 31, 1999)
IUC proposes slurry pipeline for Atlas tailings relocation to White Mesa Mill site
> view details
NRC to approve reclamation plan
from Federal Register Notice Jan 4, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 2) p.308-309 (download full text ):
"SUMMARY: The International Uranium (USA) Corporation (IUC) requested
that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) amend its NRC Source
Material License SUA-1358, to approve its Reclamation Plan, as amended,
for the White Mesa Uranium Mill near Blanding, Utah. An Environmental
Assessment (EA) was performed by the NRC staff in accordance with the
requirements of 10 CFR Part 51. The conclusion of the EA is a Finding
of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the proposed licensing action."
Any person whose interest may be affected by this proceeding may file a request for a hearing within thirty (30) days from the date of publication of the Federal Register notice.