[Federal Register Volume 69, Number 14 (Thursday, January 22, 2004)]
[Notices]
[Pages 3184-3185]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 04-1318]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No. 40-8964]


Finding of No Significant Impact and Notice of Availability of 
the Environmental Assessment Concerning the License Amendment Request 
for the Operation of the Gas Hills Project Satellite In Situ Leach 
Uranium Recovery Facility

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding 
of No Significant Impact.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick Weller, Fuel Cycle Facilities 
Branch, Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Mail Stop T8-A33, Washington DC 20555-0001, telephone (301) 415-7287 
and e-mail rmw2@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) received, by letter 
dated June 24, 1998, a request from Power Resources Inc. (PRI) to amend 
Source Materials License SUA-1511 for the Highland Uranium Project to 
allow the operation of a satellite in situ leach uranium recovery 
facility at the Gas Hills Project site located in Fremont and Natrona 
Counties, Wyoming. PRI subsequently acquired the operating Smith Ranch 
in situ leach uranium recovery facility located adjacent to the 
Highland Uranium Project and, in August 2003, the Highland license 
(SUA-1511) was integrated into the Smith Ranch Source Materials License 
SUA-1548. As such, PRI's request to amend the Highland license for the 
Gas Hills Project became a request to amend the Smith Ranch license 
(SUA-1548) upon the combination of the two licenses for these 
contiguous facilities.
    Pursuant to the requirements of 10 CFR Part 51 (Environmental 
Protection Regulations for Domestic Licensing and Related Regulatory 
Functions), the NRC has prepared an environmental assessment (EA) to 
evaluate the environmental impacts associated with the proposed 
operation of the Gas Hills Project satellite in situ leach uranium 
recovery facility. Based on this evaluation, the NRC has concluded that 
a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate for the 
proposed licensing action.

II. Summary of the Environmental Assessment

    The EA was prepared to evaluate the environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed operation of the Gas Hills Project 
satellite in situ leach uranium recovery facility. In the conduct of 
its evaluation, the NRC considered the following: (1) PRI's license 
amendment application, as supplemented and revised, (2) information 
contained in prior environmental evaluations of uranium recovery 
activities in the Gas Hills Uranium District of Wyoming, and (3) 
information derived from NRC site visits to the Gas Hills Project site 
and from communications with PRI, the Wyoming Department of 
Environmental Quality, the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, 
the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Wyoming State Geological 
Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Land 
Management. In preparing the EA, the NRC evaluated the environmental 
impacts associated with the construction, operation, reclamation, and 
decommissioning of the Gas Hills Project, including the impacts to air 
quality, local soils, surface water, groundwater, cultural resources, 
and threatened and endangered species. Additionally, the NRC evaluated 
the potential impacts to members of the public from transportation 
activities and from releases of radioactive materials to the 
environment and disposal of radioactive wastes. The results of the 
staff's evaluation are documented in an EA which is available 
electronically for public inspection or from the Publicly Available 
Records (PARS) component of NRC's document system (ADAMS). The safety 
aspects of the Gas Hills Project are discussed separately in a Safety 
Evaluation Report that will accompany the agency's final licensing 
action on PRI's request to amend Source Materials License SUA-1548.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    Pursuant to 10 CFR Part 51, the NRC has prepared the EA, summarized 
above, concerning the proposed operation of the Gas Hills Project 
satellite in situ leach uranium recovery facility. On the basis of the 
EA, the NRC has concluded that this licensing action would not have any 
significant effect on the quality of the environment, and, therefore, 
an environmental impact statement is not required. The NRC has 
concluded that the approval of the Gas Hills Project will not cause any 
significant impacts on the environment and is protective of human 
health. The basis for this conclusion is supported by the following 
findings. The NRC has determined that the Gas Hills Project will not 
result in any adverse impacts to regional surface water or groundwater. 
A groundwater monitoring program will be established to detect both 
horizontal and vertical excursions of the circulating groundwater used 
to leach uranium from the subsurface ore bodies. Any groundwater 
impacted by these uranium recovery operations will be restored to 
baseline water quality conditions or, as a minimum, to the pre-mining 
Wyoming class-of-use water quality standards. All radioactive wastes 
generated by facility operations will be disposed offsite at a licensed 
disposal site. Evaporation ponds constructed for the temporary storage 
of process waste streams will be provided with both primary and 
secondary liners and leakage detection and collection capability. 
Standard operating procedures will be established for all operational 
process activities involving radioactive materials that are handled, 
processed, or stored. Radiological effluents from the operation of the 
well-field, ion exchange, and water treatment facilities will be a 
small fraction of regulatory limits, and an environmental and effluent 
monitoring program will monitor all releases. A radiation protection 
program will be established to ensure that exposures will be kept as 
low as is reasonably achievable.

IV. Further Information

    The EA for this proposed action as well as the licensee's request, 
as supplemented and revised, are available electronically for public 
inspection in the NRC's Public Document Room or from the Publicly 
Available Records (PARS) component of NRC's document system (ADAMS). 
ADAMS is accessible from the NRC Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/
reading-rm/adams.html.

[[Page 3185]]

The ADAMS Accession Numbers for the licensee's request, as supplemented 
and revised, are: ML030300468, ML030300472, ML030300495, ML030300504, 
ML030300524, ML030300553, ML030300554, ML030300612, ML030300622, 
ML030300672, ML030300719, ML030310080, ML030310108, ML030310133, 
ML030310195, ML030310304, ML030310343, ML030310345, ML030310352, 
ML030310413, ML030310415, ML030310499, ML030310503, ML030310519, 
ML030310529, ML030310540, (June 24, 1998); ML023640335, ML023640343, 
(September 24, 1999); ML993300211 (November 11, 1999); and ML021340187 
(May 3, 2002). The ADAMS Accession Numbers for the EA are: ML040070538 
and ML040070311. Documents can also be examined and/or copied for a 
fee, at the NRC's Public Document Room, located at One White Flint 
North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. Any questions with 
respect to this action should be referred to Rick Weller, Fuel Cycle 
Facilities Branch, Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards, Office 
of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission, Mail Stop T8-A33, Washington DC 20555-0001, telephone (301) 
415-7287.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 14th day of January, 2004.

    For the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Rick Weller,
Senior Project Manager, Fuel Cycle Facilities Branch, Division of Fuel 
Cycle Safety and Safeguards, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and 
Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 04-1318 Filed 1-21-04; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P