7th DISTRICT COURT DECISION
APPROVES WATER FOR GREEN RIVER NUCLEAR REACTOR
Judge George Harmond of the Utah 7th District Court issued a decision upholding the Utah State Engineer's appropriation of 53,600 acre feet (~ 87,000,000 gallons per day) from the Green River for the proposed Blue Castle Project nuclear reactor. The proponent of the reactor, Blue Castle Holdings Inc., has plans to submit an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an Early Site Permit.
• District Court - Memorandum and Decision - November 27, 2013 (6.6 MB)
• Salt Lake Tribune article
• Uranium Watch web-site
LOW URANIUM PRICE FORCES ENERGY FUELS TO SUSPEND OPERATION OF WHITE MESA URANIUM MILL
Energy Fuels Resources Inc. has announced they will stop processing of uranium ore at the White Mesa Uranium Mill in August 2014. They plan to process uranium bearing waste (called "alternative feed material") sometime in 2015. Mining at the Arizona 1 and Pinenut Mines on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon will also cease. Ore at the Arizona 1 Mine will have been exhausted, and the Pinenut MIne will be placed on standby. Energy Fuels has already announced they would stop development of the Canyon Mine on the South Rim. Last year Energy Fuels suspended operations at three mines in Utah. Energy Fuels has a total of 8 permitted uranium mines in Utah that have ceased operation in the past 5 years. They have also closed the Sunday Mine Complex in Colorado.
The current price of uranium is below $35 per pound, making it uneconomical to continue to operate the mines and the mill, let alone develop new mines or construct a uranium mill in the Paradox Valley, Colorado.
The White Mesa Mill is currently out of compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency radon-emission limit for tailings Cell 2. The August radon emissions exceeded the 20 pico Curie per square meter per second (pCi/m2/sec) standard by over 50%. Cell 2 is drying out, increasing the amount of radon gas emissions even though it has an interim soil cover.
WORK HALTED AT CANYON MINE IN ARIZONA
Energy Fuels Resources, Inc., has placed the development of the Canyon Mine on non-operational standby status due to the low price of uranium and litigation. Energy Fuels has completed about 300 feet of a 1,500 ft. shaft at the mine on US Forest Service land on the south rim of the Grand Canyon near the magnificent Red Butte. The operation of the mine threatens Havasupai land and springs and resources in the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club signed a Stipulated Agreement with Energy Fuels suspending the operations. The agreement does not preclude the restart of the operation. The spot price of uranium continues to decline and is now below $35.00 a pound.
According to the conservation group’s News Release: ”The Havasupai Tribe and conservation groups sued the U.S. Forest Service in March  over its 2012 decision to allow the controversial mine to open without adequate tribal consultation and without updating a 1986 federal environmental review. The mine is within the Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property, which the Forest Service designated in 2010 for its religious and cultural importance to tribes, especially Havasupai. It threatens cultural values, wildlife, and water, including aquifers feeding Grand Canyon’s springs.”
BLACK RANGE MINERALS TO PURCHASE
SHOOTARING CANYON MILL
Black Range Minerals Limited has announced it intent to acquire the old Shootaring Canyon Uranium Mill, near Ticaboo in Garfield County, Utah. Black Range, an Australian Company, has entered into an agreement to purchase the Mill from Uranium One. The plan is to provide ore or concentrated ore to the Mill from Black Range or former Uranium One mine properties in Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. The Mill last operated in 1982. Despite the Environmental Protection Agency's intent that non-operating uranium mills be reclaimed in a timely manner, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Utah Division of Radiation Control (DRC) have allowed the Mill to remain on stand-by for over 30 years.
The DRC would have to approve the transfer of the Mill license to Black Range, which has no known experience in uranium mining and milling. The Shootaring Canyon license expires at the end of April 2014, so Black Range will have to submit a License Renewal application and an application to refurbish and restart the Mill.
Black Range has plans to obtain ore from old uranium mines in Utah: Velvet, Patti Anne, Wood, and Frank M. The Patti Ann has 85,000-ton pile of ore, which was covered during the reclamation of the mine. Black Range would have to obtain approval from the Bureau of Land Management and Division of Oil, Gas & Mining before any mining or ore removal. Black Range's claims that permitting would be completed in about 12 months is greatly exaggerated. The mines would require new plans of operation and a federal Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement.
Black Range also has plans for a large operation at the Hansen/Taylor Ranch in Colorado and plans for mining in Arizona. Blach Range intends to use borehole mining at the Hansen/Taylor Ranch project. The process uses water under high pressure to remove uraium from the host rock underground. There are still questions about whether this type of uranium recovery is a uranium milling operation and subject to regulation under the Atomic Energy Act, as are in-situ uranium leaching operations.
A unique aspect of Black Range's plans is the use of a new Ablation process to concentrate the ore prior to shipment to a uranium mill. Black Range has plans to do a test of Ablation in Wyoming. There are still questions about whether Ablation is a uranium milling process. At a minimum, Ablation and borehole mining operations would require a license from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for the possession of material that contains more than 0.05% uranium.
• BRM News Release
• BRM Quarterly Activites Report - September 2013
• BRM Investor Report
• BRM Update on Ablation
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION SETTLES
WITH RELIANCE RESOURCES ON
FATAL ACCIDENT IN 2010
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has settled with Moab based Reliance Resources LLC for penalties associated with the fatal mine accident at the Pandora Mine on May 26, 2010. Reliance Resources operated the mine in La Sal, Utah, for Denison Mines Corporation, a Canadian company. Hunter Diehl was killed when large rock fell on him. He was manually scaling loose material from the rib when it fell. The material that fell was about 15 feet wide, 11 feet long, and 4 to 30 inches thick. Mr. Diehl was a young miner with only 10 weeks experience. The MSHA Investigation determined that the accident occurred because management policies, procedures, and controls were inadequate."
MSHA fined both Denison and Reliance Resources $5,000 each for failing to report the mine accident. Mine owners and operators are required to report an accident within 15 minutes. MSHA heard about the accident several hours later from the media. Reliance Resources contested this penalty (later reduced to $3,500) and the other fatal accident penalties.
Reliance Resources was also cited for failing to examine ground conditions. MSHA regulations require that "persons experienced in examining and testing for loose ground shall be designated by the mine operator," and that "appropriate supervisors or other designated persons shall examine and, where applicable, test ground conditions in areas where work is to be performed, prior to work commencing, after blasting, and as ground conditions warrant during the work shift." The penalty for this violation was $70,000, but it was reduced to $49,000.
The penalty of $52,500 for not assuring that "scaling shall be performed from a location which will not expose persons to injury from falling material, or other protection from falling material shall be provided," was reduced to $36,700. The company was also fined $15,200 for violating the provision that "work shall not resume in the blast area until a post-blast examination addressing potential blast-related hazards has been conducted by a person with the ability and experience to perform the examination." This was reduced to $10,640. The total reduction in fines was $42,900. It has takenover three years to resolve these and other contested penalties. There were 46 violations at the Pandora Mine in 2010.
~ Report of Investigation
COLORADO DEPT. OF PUBLIC HEALTH
AND ENVIRONMENT URANIUM MILL
Comments Due January 7, 2013
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is revising Part 18 of the Colorado Radiation Regulations. The main (but unannounced) purpose of the changes is to conform Colorado regulations to certain hearing requirements in the Atomic Energy Act, at 42 U.S.C. § 2012(o)(3(A), (C), and (D). The CDPHE is accepting comments and holding public meetings in Denver, Grand Junction, Montrose, Greeley and Cañon City. The changes to Part 18 (6 CCR 1007-1, Part 18, “Licensing Requirements for Uranium and Thorium Processing.”)
The Radiation Control Act already has a public process for license decisions, and it has been hard for the CDPHE to integrate the Atomic Energy Act requirements into the Radiation Control Act.
The Draft Part 18 Revision can be found on the Uranium Processing Stakeholder Comment Meetings webpage. Contact Steve Tarlton at (303) 692-3423 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or visit the webpage to learn more. Please send comments to email@example.com or mail to Steve Tarlton, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246
MEETINGS: Dates and Locations for Denver, Grand Junction, Montrose, Greeley and Cañon City.
PUBLIC MEETING IN BLANDING
WHITE MESA MILL ALTERNATE FEED PROPOSAL
5:00 PM - OCTOBER 16
BLANDING ARTS AND EVENTS CENTER
639 West 100 South
Utah State University/CEU Campus
The Utah Division of Radiation Control will hold a public meeting in Blanding to receive written and oral comments on the Energy Fuels Resources Inc.’s request to process up to 4,500 tons of waste at their White Mesa Uranium Mill.
See additional information below.
BLUE CASTLE PROJECT NUCLEAR REACTOR
WATER RIGHTS TRIAL
SEPTEMBER 23 TO 30 — PRICE, UTAH
Starting September 23 Judge George Harmond of the Utah 7th District Court will hear the appeal of the State Engineer’s appropriation of water from the Green River for the proposed Blue Castle Project nuclear reactor. Attorneys John Flitton and Lara Swensen of Park City, Utah, will represent plaintiffs Uranium Watch, Living Rivers, Sierra Club, Utah Rivers Council, two Green River river recreation companies, and several individuals.
DATE: September 23rd to the 30th
TIME: Starts at 9:00 am
PLACE: Carbon County District Court
149 East 100 South
Price, Utah 84501
The San Juan County and Kane County Water Conservancy Districts, Blue Castle Holdings, and State Engineer will present their testimony Monday and Tuesday. Experts and attorneys for plaintiffs will present their testimony starting on Wednesday.
This proceeding is the culmination of a 4-year effort to bring some sense to the allocation of Utah waters for ill advised, risky, and speculative energy projects. Plaintiffs’ four experts will provide testimony that supports what the Water Rights’ Protesters have been saying all along: "The Blue Castle Project is not economically or physically feasible and would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the Green River ecosystem.”
UTAH DIVISION OF RADIATION CONTROL
PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT ON
WHITE MESA MILL ALTERNATE FEED PROPOSAL
The Utah Division of Radiation Control issued a Public Notice asking for public comment on a proposal to process waste at the Energy Fuels Resources Inc. White Mesa Uranium Mill, south of Blanding, Utah. The Amendment to License UT1900479 would allow Energy Fuels to receive and process up to a total of 4,500 tons (dry weight) of mine-water treatment waste from the Dawn Mining Company Midnite Mine Superfund Site, located in Wellpinit, Washington.
The 45-day public comment period commenced September 5, 2013. Written comments will be accepted until the close of business on October 21, 2013.
The DRC will also have a meeting in San Juan County to receive public comments duing the week of October 14. Date, time, and place to be announnced.
The DRC also plans to hold a hearing on October 9 in Salt Lake City. The hearing will be different than past hearings. The purpose of this public hearing is to take comments and also includes an opportunity for questions and answers. A Hearing Officer will manage the hearing, and the hearing will be recorded and transcribed.
Interested persons must submit their questions to the DRC Director at least 10 calendar days before the hearing (September 30, 2013). The DRC will also accept written and oral comments at this hearing. Arrangements will be made to participate via conference call.
According to the DRC the purpose of this hearing is to meet the requirements of the Atomic Energy Act, at 42 U.S.C. Section 2021(o)(3)(A)(i)(ii). Section 2021(o)(3)(A) requires that the DRC hold a hearing with a transcript and an opportunity for cross-examination for uranium mill (11e.(2) byproduct material) licensing actions.
This hearing will be held in response to efforts by Uranium Watch demanding that the DRC comply with the Atomic Energy Act hearing requirements. In an August 6, 2013, Letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) the DRC outlined hearing procedures they would use for uranium mill licensing actions. The DRC letter was responsive to an NRC February 14, 2013, Letter regarding DRC compliance with the Atomic Energy Act hearing requirements. Uranium Watch responded to that DRC letter in an August 15 Letter.
September 30, 2013 - Questions to DRC for hearing due
October 9, 2013 - Hearing and opportunity for comment, Salt Lake City
October 21, 2913 - Comments due
SUBMITTAL OF COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS
Utah Division of Radiation Control
P.O. Box 144850,
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4850
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116
E-mail subject line: "Public Comment on Energy Fuels Resources Dawn Mining Amendment Request"
• Dawn Mining Corporation Midnite Mine Alternate Feed Request
• Public Notice
DOE RELEASES URANIUM LEASING PEIS FOR
Comment Period Extended to July 1, 2013
SEE BELOW for LINKS to PEIS and OTHER INFORMATION
UTAH DIVISION OF RADIATION CONTROL
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES DO NOT COMPLY WITH
ATOMIC ENERGY ACT
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) agreed with Uranium Watch's allegation that the Utah Division of Radiation Control's (DRC's) administrative procedures did not comply with the public participation requirements for certain licensing actions. These requirements apply to the DRC as an Agreement State and the regulation of uranium mills and 11e.(2) byproduct material (mill tailings).
By letter of May 20, 2013, the NRC addressed Uranium Watch's concern that the State of Utah did not have any statue or regulation that designates procedures for a hearing required by the Atomic Energy Act (42 U.S.C. §2021(o)(3)(A)) prior to 11e.(2) byproduct material licensing actions. The NRC letter states: "The DRC is in the process of drafting a procedure to address these issues. After implementing this procedure on a current licensing action, the DRC plans to codify these procedures in a rulemaking process." It is unclear which "current licensing action" the NRC is referring to.
Section 2021(o)(3)(A) requires procedures for an opportunity for written comments and a public hearing, with a transcript and an opportunity for cross examination. The AEA also requires that an environmental analysis be available before the comment and hearing opportunity and prohibits any major construction prior to the issuance of the environmental analysis and public participation process.
Although the DRC has provided opportunities for public comment, since 2004, when Utah became an Agreement State for 11e.(2) byproduct material, they have never provided an opportunity for a hearing with a transcript and opportunity for cross examination. These procedures are supposed to take place before the DRC's final decision on an application.
WHITE MESA MILL EXCEEDS RADON-EMISSION STANDARD
FOR TAILINGS CELL 2
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 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) 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 pCi/m2/sec, regardless of the depth of dewatered tails.
US FOREST SERVICES RELEASES DRAFT EIS FOR
ROCA HONDA URANIUM MINE - NEW MEXICO
Comment Period Extended to June 16, 2013
The US Forest Service for the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico has announced the opportunity to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Roca Honda Mine on the Mount Taylor Ranger District. The DEIS is for the Roca Honda Resources LLC Plan of Operations for an underground uranium mine on about 218 acres on Mt. Taylor. The proposed mine is located about 22 miles northeast of Grants, New Mexico, on and near Jesus Mesa in T13N, R8W, Sections 9, 10, and 16, NMPM.
The Roca Honda would be the first uranium New Mexico in 30 years. Many people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, recongnize the unique cultural and historical value of Mt. Taylor. Currently, there are no licensed uranium mills in New Mexico to process the ore. Strathmore Minerals has proposed the Peña Ranch Uranium Mill and has told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they intend to submit an application for a mill license in late 2013.
~ USFS Public Notice
~ Roca Honda Draft EIS
~ MK025RN Roca Honda Mine - New Mexico EMNRD Mining and Minerals
DOE RELEASES URANIUM LEASING EIS FOR
Comment Period Extended to July 1, 2013
The Department of Energy (DOE) has released the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS): Uranium Leasing Program for public comment. The PEIS evaluates the environmental impacts of the leasing and development of uranium mines in Southwestern Colorado.
~ DOE Uranium Leasing Program
~ Uranium Leasing PEIS Information Center
~ Draft PEIS Federal Register Notice: 76 Fed. Reg. 16483, March 15, 2013
~ Draft PEIS Related Documents
~ Draft PEIS for Public Comment
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