USFS SENDS LA SAL MINES COMPLEX EA
DECISION BACK TO DRAWING BOARD
On March 20, 2015, US Forest Service (USFS) ruled favorably on Uranium Watch et al.'s Objection to the La Sal Mines Complex Plan of Operations Amendment, the project EA, and the USFS draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). In the 38-page decision, the Objection Reviewing Officer found that the FONSI was not supported by the EA and the project record. He instructed the Forest Supervisor to hold the issuance of the Decision Notice until all concerns and instructions in the decision have been addressed. At the end of this process, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will issue its final decision.
Many thanks to Roger Flynn and Jeff Parsons of the Western Mining Action
Project in Lyons, Colorado, who represented Uranium Watch, Grand Canyon Trust, Living Rivers, Information Network for Responsible Mining, and Center for
The La Sal Mines Complex consists of the Beaver Shaft (private land) and
Snowball, La Sal, and Pandora Mines and a Beaver Shaft waste rock pile on BLM land. Intake and radon exhaust vents, exploration drilling and access roads are on USFS land.
The Beaver Shaft and associated radon vents are close to an elementary school,
community center, store and Post Office in La Sal, on the south slope of the La
Sal Mountains. The mines went on standby at the end of 2012.
• USFS Decision Cover Letter
• USFS Decision
UTAH DEQ ELECTRONIC DOCUMENT SYSTEM
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has established document
system to providing electronic document information. Limited Division of Radiation Control historical documents and more recent and current documents are available. Link to E-Z Search Documents.
UTAH LEGISLATURE MERGES
DIVISIONS OF RADIATION CONTROL
AND SOLID AND HAZARDOUS WASTE
The Utah Legislature approved Senate Bill 244, which merged the Divisions of Radiation Control and Solid and Hazardous Waste and established a new, combined Board. According to SB 244, a Board member must now be knowledgeable about solid and hazardous waste matters and radiation safety. The bill was pushed through the Legislature in a very short time, with little opportunity for public input. The current Radiation Control Board was not consulted. The Board asked that there be separate boards, but it was too late.
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.
ANFIELD CONTINUES TO PURSUE PURCHASE OF
SHOOTARING MILL AND
MAKES FALSE CLAIMS TO INVESTORS
Anfield Resources Inc. continues to pursue the purchase of the Shootaring Canyon Uranium Mill near Ticaboo in Garfield County, north of the Colorado River at Lake Powell. The Mill is currently owned by Uranium One. The DRC has given its preliminary approval, but has yet to issue a public notice of opportunity for public comment and a hearing. Anfield must submit a license renewal application by October 15, 2015.
Anfield has been providing misleading information in its news releases and a corporate presentation. Anfield claims that they have an ore stockpile in Lisbon Valley at the historic Patti Ann Mine. According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there are no existing claims associated with the Patti Ann low-grade ore stockpile. The site is not on claims owned by Uranium One or other mining company.
Anfield plans to acquire the Velvet Mine and nearby unexploited Wood Mine in San Juan County as part of its purchase of the Shootaring Canyon Mill from Uranium One. The Velvet Mine, which supplied ore to the Atlas Minerals Uranium Mill in Moab, is only permitted for reclamation. However, Anfield claims (under the heading "Permits") that there is a Notice of Intent (NOI) to Commence Large Mining Operations Approved with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining (DOGM). Anfield claims a "Potential to recommence production within 12 months based on current permits in place." These statements are greatly misleading. The NOI is only associated with reclamation of the site, and it would take much longer than 12 months to permit and reopen the mine.
In order to reopen the long-closed Velvet Mine, Anfield would have to submit a new Plan of Operations/Notice of Intent to the BLM and DOGM. The BLM would have to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or Environmental Assessment (EA). Based on the current time it has taken to complete EAs for uranium mine projects in San Juan County, that would take 3 years or longer. Air Quality and Water Quality permits would need to be updated. Anfield would need Utah Division of Air Quality approval to construct or reopen the mine ventilation system. Anyone who read the Velvet-Wood Technical Report, would see that Anfield is making false statements to potential investors.
In a recent news release, Anfield announced plans to evaluate the processing ore from their Velvet Mine and nearby Wood Mine assets using vat or heap leaching. Vat or heap leaching would require a uranium mill license and the permanent disposal of the spent ore for perpetual care and maintenance on site, at the White Mesa Mill, or the Shootaring Canyon Mill. The Velvet and Wood claims are on BLM land. Creating a new uranium ore processing site and tailings disposal site on BLM land would present many permitting and environmental challenges, which Anfield fails to mention.
DATA SHOWS DRAMATIC INCREASE LEVELS OF
RADON EMISSIONS AT WHITE MESA URANIUM MILL
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 pico cures per square meter per second (pCi/m2-sec), when the standard for older tailings impoundments is 20 pCi/m2-sec. According to the Wastewater Monitoring Report:
> 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.
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.
UW AND OTHERS OBJECT TO LA SAL MINES EA
On December 22, 2014, Uranium Watch, Living Rivers, Grand Canyon Trust, Center for Biological Diversity, and Information Network for Responsible Mining filed an Objection to the La Sal Mines Complex Plan of Operations Amendment Environmental Assessment and USFS Draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact. UW et al. are represented by the Western Mining Action Project, Lyons, Colorado.
• Public Notice
• Final La Sal Mines Complex EA
• La Sal Mines Complex Information
• La Sal Mines Complex EA
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.
• Risk Assessment Revision for 40 CFR Part 61 Subpart W – Radon Emissions from Operating Mill Tailings: 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; 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.
URANIUM WATCH AND OTHERS SUBMIT
COMMENTS ON EPA RADON EMISSION RULEMAKING
At the end of October Uranium Watch (UW) et al. submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criticizing the EPA’s proposed regulations for the emission of radon from conventional uranium mills, in situ leach (ISL) uranium recovery operations, and heap-leach uranium recovery operations. The regulations are the National Emission Standards for Radon Emissions From Operating Mill Tailings, 40 C.F.R. Part 61 Subpart W. The current standards limits the radon emissions from the “existing” tailings impoundments at the White Mesa Mill near Blanding, Utah, to pCi/m2-sec. The mill owner, Energy Fuels Resources Inc. (Energy Fuels), must monitor the emissions and report to the Utah Division of Air Quality, which regulates radon emissions from uranium mines and mills in Utah, and the EPA. If the emissions exceed the standard, as they did for Cell 2 in 2012, Energy Fuels must take corrective actions. Energy Fuels placed additional fill on the Cell 2 interim cover and cleaned up windblown tailings to bring Cell 2 back into compliance. The proposed rule:
• Does not comply with the provisions of the Clean Air Act at Section 112(h).
• Eliminates any requirement to monitor and report radon emissions from the mill.
• Assures that no one knows how much radon is being emitted from the tailings.
• Ignores the high levels of radon emissions from over 155 acres of liquid effluents.
• Uranium Watch Subpart W Rulemaking Comments, October 29, 2014
• EPA Subpart W Review Webpage
• Other Subpart W Comments (Enter EPA–HQ– OAR–2008–0218)
UTAH APPROVES ANFIELD RESOURCES PURCHASE
OF SHOOTARING CANYON MILL
The Utah Division of Radiation Control (DRC) has authorized the Change of Control and Ownership from Uranium One Americas, Inc to Anfield Resources Holding Corp. When the purchase transaction is complete, Anfield must apply for a change of name of the licensee and provide the required reclamation bond. There will be an opportunity for public comment and a hearing on the change of ownership. The DRC has given Anfield until October 14, 2015, to submit the long-delayed license renewal application.
• DRC Shootaring Canyon Mill Webpage