Regulatory Issues - USA (2020 - Current)
(last updated 17 Nov 2022)
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On Oct. 7, 2022, the NRC Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards issued a draft revised procedure "Termination of Uranium Milling Licenses in Agreement States (SA) Procedure SA-900".
> Download: Notification of the opportunity to comment on SA-900 , Oct. 6, 2022 (PDF)
> Download: Draft Revised Procedure SA-900 , Oct. 7, 2022 (PDF)
> Download: current Procedure SA-900 , May 17, 2010 (PDF)
> Access: NRC Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
> See also: Revision of NRC Procedure for Termination of Uranium Milling Licenses in Agreement States (2003)
Disa issues license request for use of High-Pressure Slurry Ablation (HPSA) technology to remediate existing waste piles containing uranium:
> Download: NRC Materials License application and related documents , Aug. 1, 2022
Disa seeks license for use of High-Pressure Slurry Ablation (HPSA) technology to remediate existing waste piles containing uranium:
On May 23, 2022, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff held a public meeting with representatives of Disa Technologies, Inc. (Disa).
The purpose of this meeting was to discuss technical and regulatory issues related to Disa's proposed use of the High-Pressure Slurry Ablation (HPSA) technology to remediate existing waste piles containing uranium at various sites in the western United States (e.g., closed uranium mines).
> Download: Public Meeting Summary (670kB PDF) · Disa presentation (4MB PDF)
In view of Ukraine invasion, U.S. Senators introduce bill to ban uranium imports from Russia
U.S. Republican Senators on Thursday (Mar. 17) introduced a bill to ban U.S. imports of Russian uranium to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
(Reuters Mar. 17, 2022)
Kathryn Huff, the Biden administration's nominee to be assistant secretary for nuclear energy, said during a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that she believed the US supply chain for uranium mining, conversion and enrichment could be bolstered in case Russian nuclear fuel components are banned. However, this would carry a cost in federal appropriations that would be measured in hundreds of millions and could reach more than a billion dollars.
(S&P Global Mar. 17, 2022)
> Access: S.3856 - A bill to prohibit the importation of uranium from the Russian Federation
> Access: H.R.7222 - To prohibit the importation of uranium from the Russian Federation
In view of Ukraine invasion, U.S. announces ban on energy imports from Russia, not including uranium
U.S. President Joe Biden's ban on American imports of Russian oil and other energy products, announced on Tuesday (Mar. 8), does not include a ban on imports of uranium for nuclear power plants, a source familiar with the matter said.
(Reuters Mar. 8, 2022)
U.S. utilities push White House not to sanction Russian uranium in view of Ukraine invasion
The U.S. nuclear power industry is lobbying the White House to allow uranium imports from Russia to continue despite the escalating conflict in Ukraine, with cheap supplies of the fuel seen as key to keeping American electricity prices low, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The United States relies on Russia and its allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for roughly half of the uranium powering its nuclear plants - about 22.8 million pounds (10.3 million kg) in 2020 - which in turn produce about 20% of U.S. electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the World Nuclear Association.
(Reuters Mar. 1, 2022)
Over the objections of Republican lawmakers, the Department of the Interior has published a finalized critical mineral list that omits helium, uranium, potash, and other minerals that were on the original 2018 list, which was published in response to then-President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order.
(The Epoch Times Feb. 23, 2022)
> Federal Register Volume 87, Number 37 (Thursday, February 24, 2022)
p. 10381-10382 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID DOI-2021-0013
> See also: DOI issues List of Critical Minerals, including uranium (2018)
Submit comments by March 2, 2022 (Comment period extended).
> Federal Register Volume 86, Number 240 (Friday, December 17, 2021) p. 71676-71677 (download full text )
> Federal Register Volume 87, Number 17 (Wednesday, January 26, 2022) p. 4059-4060 (download full text )
> Download: Draft Regulatory Guide DG-8060 , Dec. 2021 (PDF - this file was silently replaced by a different version on Dec. 13, 2021!)
> Download: Regulatory Analysis , Dec. 2021 (PDF)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2021-0217
> Federal Register Volume 87, Number 166 (Monday, August 29, 2022) p. 52815-52816 (download full text )
> Download: Regulatory Guide 8.34, Rev. 1 , Aug. 2022 (PDF - this file was silently replaced by a corrected version on Aug. 23, 2022!)
> See also DG-8031 (2013)
NRC issues draft guidance for the Proposed Rule: Groundwater Protection at Uranium In Situ Recovery Facilities:
> Download: Draft Guidance , Aug. 19, 2021 (1.1MB PDF)
NRC issues Proposed Rule: Groundwater Protection at Uranium In Situ Recovery Facilities:
Submit comments by [TBA]
> Federal Register [TBA]
> Download: Proposed Rule and related documents , Aug. 6, 2021
> Access Docket ID NRC-2008-0421
> See also: older issues
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is publishing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to obtain input from stakeholders on its plan to amend NRC regulations on categorical exclusions for licensing, regulatory, and administrative actions that individually or cumulatively do not have a significant effect on the human environment. The NRC will consider public comments received on its potential changes and on questions related to categorical exclusions to inform a rulemaking that is planned for publication in fiscal year 2022. The NRC will hold a public meeting during the comment period to facilitate public participation.
DATES: Submit comments by July 21, 2021.
> Federal Register Volume 86, Number 87 (Friday, May 7, 2021) p. 24514-24516 (download full text )
> Access: Docket ID NRC-2018-0300
"This paper provides the staff's recommendation to initiate a rulemaking to revise and update the
regulations in 10 CFR Part 51. The recommended rulemaking would streamline the staff's
environmental review process; assist the Commission and the staff, as appropriate, in focusing
on the relevant environmental issues in their decision-making; maintain openness with the
public; and reduce the burden on applicants, licensees, and the NRC."
> Download: Rulemaking Plan - Transforming the NRC's Environmental Review Process, SECY-21-0001 , Dec. 31, 2020
In view of Brexit, NRC has issued orders suspending exports of source material (material containing thorium or non-enriched uranium) to the United Kingdom. "This suspension is required due to the U.K.'s exit from the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). Exports of EURATOM-obligated and Canadian-obligated source material to the U.K. are currently not authorized."
> Download: Order Modifying Licenses to Suspend Certain Exports to the United Kingdom [Transport Logistics International], Dec. 17, 2020 (PDF)
Federal Register Volume 85, Number 247 (Wednesday, December 23, 2020) p. 84014-84015 (download full text )
> Access: Docket ID NRC-2020-0270
> Download: Order Modifying Licenses to Suspend Certain Exports to the United Kingdom [Converdyn], Dec. 16, 2020 (PDF)
Federal Register Volume 85, Number 246 (Tuesday, December 22, 2020) p. 83629-83630 (download full text )
> Access: Docket ID NRC-2020-0271
On May 6, 2021, NRC informed licensees Converdyn and TLI that the suspension has been lifted and EURATOM-obligated material may be exported to the United Kingdom, again.
This guidance takes a risk-informed, performance-based approach to the demonstration of compliance. This guidance will help identify the information (subject matter and level of detail) needed to terminate a license and considers the specific circumstances of the wide range of NRC licensees. Licensees should use this guidance in preparing decommissioning plans (DPs), license termination plans, final status surveys, and other technical decommissioning reports for NRC submittal. The NRC staff will use the guidance in reviewing these documents and related license amendment requests. Volume 2 applies to all licensees subject to the LTR [License Termination Rule] (i.e., fuel cycle, fuel storage, materials, and reactor licensees).
Changes made to this revision of Volume 2 include the following: Dose Modeling, "As Low As Is Reasonably Achievable (ALARA)" Analysis, Composite Sampling, Characterization, Engineered Barrier Analysis, Radiological Surveys, among others.
Submit comments by April 8, 2021 (Comment period extended).
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 236 (Tuesday, December 8, 2020) p. 79044-79045 (download full text )
> Federal Register Volume 86, Number 13 (Friday, January 22, 2021) p. 6683-6684 (download full text )
> Download: Consolidated Decommissioning Guidance, Characterization, Survey, and Determination of Radiological Criteria, Draft Report for Comment , NUREG-1757, Volume 2, Revision 2, U.S. NRC, Nov. 2020 (5.3MB PDF)
> Access: Docket ID NRC-2020-0192
> Download: Consolidated
Decommissioning Guidance Characterization, Survey, and Determination of Radiological Criteria, Final Report , NUREG-1757 Volume 2, Revision 2, U.S. NRC, July 2022 (7MB PDF)
In view of anticipated problems to obtain subsurface rights for the Panna Maria, Ray Point, and Conquista, Texas, UMTRCA Title II tailings sites, DOE proposes to allow the access to oil and gas deposits below these sites, if done by lateral drilling from outside of the site perimeters.
> Download: NRC letter to DOE, Jan. 29, 2018 (Request for Clarification - 175kB PDF)
> Download: DOE letter to NRC, Feb. 26, 2018 (Alternative Proposal - 6MB PDF)
> Download: NRC letter to DOE, Sep. 23, 2020 (NRC Staff Response to Alternative Proposal - 938KB PDF)
The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday (Sep. 14) inked a draft agreement with Russia's state nuclear energy company to reduce imports of uranium from Russia over the next 20 years in a bid to boost domestic mining and nuclear energy.
The Commerce Department and Rosatom initialed the draft amendment to the 1992 Russian Suspension Agreement to prevent dumping, extending that deal to the year 2040 and gradually reduce the amount of uranium the U.S. imports from Russia for enrichment from 20% to 15% starting in 2028.
(Reuters Sep. 14, 2020)
> View: DOC release Sep. 12, 2020
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 180 (Wednesday, September 16, 2020) p. 57824-57832 (download full text )
Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on September 28, 2020.
Sen. John Barrasso introduced a bill [titled "Russian Suspension Agreement Extension Act of 2020"] Friday (Sep. 25) to limit the import of uranium from Russia in favor of boosting uranium production in the U.S.
(Casper Star Tribune Sep. 28, 2020)
The U.S. Department of Commerce and the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation, have signed a final amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation. This amendment extends the Agreement through 2040 and reduces U.S. reliance on uranium from Russia during that time period.
The amendment is unchanged from a draft amendment released for public comment on September 11, 2020.
> View: DOC release Oct. 6, 2020
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 197 (Friday, October 9, 2020) p. 64112-64120 (download full text )
The staff plans to develop detailed guidance on monetizing the risks associated with the morbidity from nonfatal cancers using quality-adjusted life years. These quality-adjusted life-year estimates are available for a variety of cancer types and subject populations and can be used in conjunction with the annualized value of a statistical life to approximate WTP ["Willingness to pay"]. The staff will hold a public meeting to seek public input on this approach prior to developing the guidance.
> Download: Policy Issue - Valuing Nonfatal Cancer Risks in Cost-Benefit Analysis , U.S. NRC, SECY-20-0074, Aug. 13, 2020 (PDF)
Two U.S. government agencies agreed Thursday (July 23) to keep state regulators primarily in charge of regulating groundwater pollution from uranium mining in the latest move by President Donald Trump's administration to prop up the ailing industry.
The agreement signed in Wyoming, the top uranium-producing state, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency won't stipulate how uranium mines should comply with certain U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license requirements.
The commission has agreements with 39 states, including one with Wyoming since 2018, giving those states primary oversight of uranium mining.
As a result, the new agreement between the EPA and NRC in effect ensures that oversight of groundwater contamination at all but one U.S. uranium mine will continue to be largely the responsibility of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
Conservation groups responded with concern. The agreement sheds the EPA of responsibility for protecting groundwater, said Shannon Anderson, an attorney with the Powder River Basin Resource Council landowner group in Wyoming.
(AP July 23, 2020)
> Download: Memorandum of Understanding Between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Concerning the Regulation of Uranium in situ Recovery Activities , July 23, 2020 (PDF)
> See also: NRC rulemaking on Ground Water Protection at Uranium In Situ Recovery Facilities
> See also: EPA's proposed rulemaking on groundwater protection standards for uranium in situ leach mining
In a report that reads like an only slightly moderated compilation of the President's infamous Twitter rants, the Nuclear Fuel Working Group (NFWG), established by President Trump on July 12, 2019, makes the following proposals (among others, emphasis added):
In addition, the Working Group makes the following remarkably candid statement: "The Working Group strategy has considered policy options to create new commercial demand while recognizing that the U.S. national security interest is truly integrated with the health of the entire front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle -- the United States needs a strong civil nuclear industry to enable national defense." [emphasis added]
- Directly purchase uranium by establishing a Uranium Reserve (see also here)
- End DOE's bartering of uranium and reevaluate DOE's Excess Uranium Inventory Management Policy (see also here)
- Streamline regulatory reform and land access for uranium extraction
- Support Department of Commerce efforts to extend the Russian Suspension Agreement to protect against future uranium dumping in the U.S. market
> View: DOE release Apr. 23, 2020
> View: NFWG Fact Sheet (DOE Apr. 23, 2020)
> Download: Restoring America's Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage (NFWG recommendations, DOE Apr. 23, 2020)
> See also: President's Nuclear Fuel Working Group suggests strategy to make U.S. nuclear fuel industry great again
> See also: U.S. national security probe into uranium imports
NGOs request suspension of NRC rulemaking and licensing in view of COVID-19 pandemic:
> Download: Request for Suspension of All NRC Rulemakings and Other Activities Involving Public Comment or Participation Until 6 Months After End of COVID-19 Crisis , Apr. 8, 2020 (PDF)
DOE announces changes to groundwater sampling at former Gunnison uranium mill site due to COVID-19 pandemic:
On Apr. 22, 2020, the Department of Energy informed NRC of changes to groundwater sampling at the Gunnison, Colorado former uranium processing site in response to travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Utah DEQ to hold electronic public hearing on proposed license amendments for processing of a variety of materials at White Mesa uranium mill:
If a public hearing is scheduled on the proposed license amendments for the processing of a variety of materials at the White Mesa uranium mill, it will be held as an electronic public hearing using Google Meets (due to the state of emergency that has been declared due to the COVID-19 virus).
NRC approves temporary suspension of groundwater monitoring at former Ambrosia Lake uranium mill site due to COVID-19 pandemic:
On Apr. 16, 2020, Rio Algom requested a temporary relief from monthly groundwater monitoring at its former Ambrosia Lake uranium mill site in April and May in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NRC approved the request on Apr. 21, 2020.
NRC approves temporary suspension of groundwater monitoring at former Church Rock uranium mill site due to COVID-19 pandemic:
On Jun. 8, 2020, General Electric Co. requested a temporary relief from monthly groundwater monitoring at its former Church Rock uranium mill site in April and May in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NRC approved the request on June 18, 2020.
Currently, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is soliciting comments on the information collection for Radiation Sampling and Exposure Records.
Submit comments by May 5, 2020.
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 45 (Friday, March 6, 2020) p. 13189-13190 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID MSHA-2020-0006
DOE issues Request for Information Regarding Key Challenges in Reconstituting Uranium Mining and Conversion Capabilities in the United States:
The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) is issuing this RFI [Request for Information] to invite public input on key challenges in reconstituting uranium mining and conversion capabilities in the United States. This invitation is in recognition of the importance of nuclear fuel supply chain capabilities to the United States. The Joint Explanatory Statement of the Energy and Water Development Committees on H.R. 1865, the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy and Water Appropriations Act, requests the Department to contract not later than 60 days after enactment of the Act with a Federally-Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) or other independent organization to work with industry to identify key challenges in reconstituting mining and conversion capabilities in the United States. The responses received from this RFI will be provided to the FFRDC or the independent organization.
Submit comments by March 30, 2020 (Comment period extended).
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 36 (Monday, February 24, 2020) p. 10424-10426 (download full text )
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 48 (Wednesday, March 11, 2020) p. 14189-14190 (download full text )
President's budget proposes US$ 150 million for creation of uranium reserve in order to support struggling uranium mining companies
> View here
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Chaco Area Withdrawal, McKinley, Sandoval, and San Juan Counties
BLM seeks comment on environmental study for Chaco Area Withdrawal:
The Bureau of Land Management Farmington Field Office has released the proposed Chaco Area Withdrawal Environmental Assessment for a 30-day public review and comment period. The environmental assessment analyzes impacts associated with withdrawing federal minerals from leasing in a ten-mile buffer surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park for 20 years.
Submit comments by December 10, 2022.
> View: BLM release Nov. 10, 2022
"The withdrawal of the area to location and entry under the US mining laws would prevent exploration for uranium resources; however, valid existing uranium claims in the area would not be impacted, and development of these claims could be pursued. The market conditions for uranium development are not favorable and are unlikely to improve over the 20-year withdrawal period. [...]
Parts of the Nose Rock, Chaco Canyon Church Rock-Crownpoint, Smith Lake, and Ambrosia Lake subdistricts of the Grants mineral belt are within the proposed withdrawal boundary. Currently, there are no producing uranium mines in the Grants uranium district; however, several mines are still undergoing decommissioning and reclamation (NMMMD 2022). Approximately 409 million pounds of uranium resources [157,300 t U] that were never mined remain in the Grants district, as identified by companies in the 1980s and in recent exploration (McLemore 2020). [...]
The Crownpoint in situ recovery project proponent proposes to extract uranium using in situ leaching techniques from several locations, including inside the proposed withdrawal area; extraction would occur from both private and federal minerals (Hydro Resources 2013). The project is currently undergoing permitting and licensing (World Nuclear Association 2021). There are 129 unpatented uranium mining claim(s) encompassing approximately 2,700 acres within the proposed withdrawal area. [...]
Over the short term, during the 20-year withdrawal period, the proposed withdrawal would prevent exploration and characterization of most uranium resources within the withdrawal area. The proposed withdrawal also would prevent the development and recovery of uranium resources from federal mineral estate within the withdrawal area. While the proposed withdrawal area has known deposits of uranium on federal minerals, given the typical time line required to locate and record a claim, acquire permits, and bring online a uranium development, it is safe to assume that no production of any uranium on claims that are not already staked would be reasonably foreseeable within the 20-year proposed withdrawal period. [...]
Other countries have more accessible, high-quality uranium deposits, allowing them to produce at a lower cost than the United States (EIA 2020). As a result, any increases in future demand are likely to be met by foreign sources and resumption of production at existing facilities currently on standby, rather than by the costly construction of new facilities. Because of these factors, the development of any uranium claims within the proposed withdrawal area is unlikely within the next 20 years. [...]"
(Environmental Assessment, Nov. 2022)
> Access: Chaco Culture National Historical Park Area Withdrawal (BLM)
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Voters approve uranium mining ban in Fall River County, home of Dewey/Burdock project:
The Fall River County has seen voters approve of a ballot measure that seeks to declare that uranium mining is a public nuisance. The measure, which was passed with 56% of voters saying yes, seeks to bar the practice of mining for uranium within the county. All precincts are said to be fully reported.
The measure in particular was directly aimed at Powertech USA, a subsidiary of enCore Energy, where the firm holds its Dewey-Burdock uranium project. The company is currently looking to develop an in-situ mine on the property, with locals concerned about the impact on the local water table as a result of the potential mine. Locals have attempted recently to challenge federal and state permits that have been granted in court, however the most recent decision by the courts fell in favor of enCore.
It is currently unclear what the measure means for the project, given that the project has already been granted underground injection control permits by the US EPA in October 2020, while in 2014 the project received a Source and Byproduct Materials License from the US Nuclear Regulatory Agency. The project is said to still require approvals for construction and operation of the project, which have been applied for with the State of South Dakota as well as with the Bureau of Land Management.
States' Attorney Lance Russell however is said to have told the Fall River County Board of Commissioners that the County in fact does not have the power to act on the measure, given that they do not have authority over the State. It is unclear at this point whether the County will act on the measure.
(NXTmine Nov. 9, 2022)
> View ballot result
Voters to decide on banning uranium mining in Fall River County, home of Dewey/Burdock project:
When Fall River County voters go to the polls in November, one of the items facing them will be essentially a ban on uranium mining in the county.
The County Commissioners placed the measure on the ballot after receiving petitions with 448 valid signatures on a measure declaring uranium mining a public nuisance and barring the practice in the county. 260 signatures were required to make the ballot.
The initiative is aimed at Powertech, which for the last decade has been trying to get federal and state permits for an in-situ uranium mine north of Edgemont.
(KCSR / KBPY Aug. 15, 2022)
> see older issues
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (commission) is accepting
written comments regarding proposed amendments to §§39.403,
50.113, 55.101, 55.201, 331.2, 331.5, 331.7, 331.47, 331.64, and 331.121,
and repealed §331.17 and §331.18 of 30 Texas Administrative
Code (TAC) Chapter 39, Public Notice, Chapter 50, Action on Applications
and Other Authorizations, Chapter 55, Requests for Reconsideration
and Contested Case Hearings; Public Comment, and Chapter 331, Underground
Consistent with other commission rules and the United States Environmental
Protection Agency's regulations, the proposed rulemaking would amend
and repeal rules for pre-injection units associated with nonhazardous,
noncommercial injection wells to remove the requirements to permit
or register pre-injection units under Chapter 331 and would result
in a streamlined underground injection control permit application process.
Submit comments by September 15, 2020.
> View: Notice of Public Comment on Proposed Revisions to 30 TAC Chapters 39, 50, 55, and 331 , Texas Register, Aug. 14, 2020, In Addition
> Download: related documents (Rule Project Number 2016-022-331-WS)
> see older issues
Resource Management Plan for restored Bears Ears National Monument
BLM invites scoping comments on Resource Management Plan for Bears Ears National Monument:
Submit comments by October 31, 2022.
> Federal Register Volume 87, Number 167 (Tuesday, August 30, 2022) p. 52992-52995 (download full text )
> Access related documents (BLM National NEPA Register)
Downsizing of Bears Ears National Monument
> View here
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