[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 149 (Wednesday, August 5, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 39116-39117]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-18687]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[NRC-2008-0339; Docket No. 40-9067]


Uranerz Energy Corporation; Nichols Ranch In-Situ Recovery 
Project; New Source Material License Application; Notice of Intent To 
Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI).

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SUMMARY: Uranerz Energy Corporation (Uranerz) submitted an application 
for a new source material license for the Nichols Ranch In-Situ 
Recovery (ISR) Project to be located in Campbell and Johnson Counties, 
Wyoming, approximately 46 miles south-southwest of Gillette, Wyoming 
and approximately 61 miles north-northeast of Casper, Wyoming. The 
application proposes the construction, operation, and decommissioning 
of ISR, also known as in-situ leach, facilities and restoration of the 
aquifer from which the uranium is being extracted. Uranerz submitted 
the application for the new source material license to the U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission (NRC) by a letter dated November 30, 2007. A 
notice of receipt and availability of the license application, 
including the Environmental Report (ER), and opportunity to request a 
hearing was published in the Federal Register on June 16, 2008 (73 FR 
34052). The purpose of this notice of intent is to inform the public 
that the NRC will be preparing a site-specific Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to the Generic Environmental 
Impact Statement for In-Situ Leach Uranium Milling Facilities (ISR 
GEIS) for a new source material license for the Nichols Ranch ISR 
Project, as required by 10 CFR 51.26(d). In addition, as outlined in 36 
CFR 800.8, ``Coordination with the National Environmental Policy Act,'' 
the NRC plans to use the environmental review process as reflected in 
10 CFR part 51 to coordinate compliance with Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general information on the NRC 
NEPA or the environmental review process related to the Nichols Ranch 
ISR Project application, please contact the NRC Environmental Project 
Manager, Irene Yu, at (301) 415-1951 or irene.yu@nrc.gov.
    Information and documents associated with the Nichols Ranch ISR 
Project, including the license application, are available for public 
review through our electronic reading room: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html and on the NRC's Nichols Ranch Site Web page: http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/materials/uranium/apps-in-review/nichols-ranch-new-app-review.html. Documents may also be obtained from NRC's Public 
Document Room at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Headquarters, 
11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

1.0 Background

    Uranerz submitted the application for the new source material 
license to the NRC for ISR facilities by a letter dated November 30, 
2007. A notice of receipt and availability of the license application, 
including the ER, and opportunity to request a hearing was published in 
the Federal Register on June 16, 2008 (73 FR 34052). No requests for 
hearing were submitted.
    Based on the anticipated efficiencies gained through the 
development of the ISR GEIS, the NRC originally planned to document 
this environmental evaluation in draft and final Environmental 
Assessments (EAs). However, during the development of the final ISR 
GEIS, NRC decided to prepare a SEIS that will tier off of the ISR GEIS 
for applications to license new ISR facilities. This environmental 
evaluation for the Nichols Ranch ISR Project will now be documented in 
draft and final SEISs instead of an EA. While NRC regulations do not 
require scoping under 10 CFR part 51 for SEISs, NRC staff met with 
Federal (Bureau of Land Management--Cheyenne, Casper, Buffalo; Bureau 
of Indian Affairs--Fort Washakie; Fish & Wildlife Service--Buffalo), 
State (Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality--Cheyenne, Sheridan; 
State Engineer's Office; Governor's Planning Office; State Historic 
Preservation Office) and local government agencies (Converse County 
Planning Department; Johnson County Commissioners' Office; City of 
Casper Planning Office; Town of Wright) and public organizations 
(Buffalo Chamber of Commerce; Campbell County Economic Development 
Corporation; Wyoming Community Development Authority; Converse Area New 
Development Organization) in January of 2009 as part of a site visit to 
gather site-specific information to assist in the preparation of the 
Nichols Ranch ISR Project environmental review. NRC also contacted 
potentially interested tribes and local public interest groups via e-
mail and telephone to gather additional information.
    The NRC has begun evaluating the potential environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed ISR facility in parallel with the review 
of the license application. This environmental evaluation will be 
documented in draft and final SEISs in accordance with NRC's NEPA 
implementing regulations contained in 10 CFR part 51. The NRC is 
required by 10 CFR 51.20 (b)(8) to prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) or a supplement to an EIS for the issuance of a license 
to possess and use source material for uranium milling. The ISR GEIS 
and the site-specific SEIS fulfills this regulatory requirement. The 
purpose of the present notice is to inform the public that the NRC 
staff will prepare a site-specific supplement to the ISR GEIS (NUREG-
1910) as part of the review of the application.

2.0 Nichols Ranch ISR Facilities

    The facilities, if licensed, would include a central processing 
plant, satellite facility, accompanying wellfields, and ion exchange 
columns. The process involves the dissolution of the water-soluble 
uranium from the mineralized host sandstone rock by pumping oxidants 
(oxygen or hydrogen peroxide) and chemical compounds (sodium 
bicarbonate) through a series of production and extraction wells. The 
uranium-rich solution is transferred from the production wells to 
either the central processing plant or satellite facility for uranium 
concentration using ion exchange columns. Final processing is conducted 
in the central processing plant process to produce yellowcake for use 
in manufacturing commercial nuclear fuel for use in power reactors.

3.0 Alternatives To Be Evaluated

    No-Action--The no-action alternative would be not to issue the 
license. Under this alternative, the NRC would not approve the license 
application for the proposed ISR facilities. This serves as a baseline 
for comparison.
    Proposed Action--The proposed Federal action is to issue a license 
to use

[[Page 39117]]

or process source material at the proposed ISR facilities. The license 
review process analyzes the construction, operation, and 
decommissioning of ISR facilities and restoration of the aquifer from 
which the uranium is being extracted. The ISR facilities would be 
located in Campbell and Johnson Counties, Wyoming, approximately 46 
miles south-southwest of Gillette, Wyoming and approximately 61 miles 
north-northeast of Casper, Wyoming. The applicant would be issued an 
NRC license under the provisions of 10 CFR part 40.
    Other alternatives not listed here may be identified through the 
environmental review process.

4.0 Environmental Impact Areas To Be Analyzed

    The following areas have been tentatively identified for analysis 
in the SEIS:
     Land Use: Plans, policies, and controls;
     Transportation: Transportation modes, routes, quantities, 
and risk estimates;
     Geology and Soils: Physical geography, topography, 
geology, and soil characteristics;
     Water Resources: Surface and groundwater hydrology, water 
use and quality, and the potential for degradation;
     Ecology: Wetlands, aquatic, terrestrial, economically and 
recreationally important species, and threatened and endangered 
species;
     Air Quality: Meteorological conditions, ambient 
background, pollutant sources, and the potential for degradation;
     Noise: Ambient, sources, and sensitive receptors;
     Historical and Cultural Resources: Historical, 
archaeological, and traditional cultural resources;
     Visual and Scenic Resources: Landscape characteristics, 
manmade features and viewshed;
     Socioeconomics: Demography, economic base, labor pool, 
housing, transportation, utilities, public services/facilities, and 
education;
     Environmental Justice: Potential disproportionately high 
and adverse impacts to minority and low-income populations;
     Public and Occupational Health: Potential public and 
occupational consequences from construction, routine operation, 
transportation, and credible accident scenarios (including natural 
events);
     Waste Management: Types of wastes expected to be 
generated, handled, and stored; and
     Cumulative Effects: Impacts from past, present, and 
reasonably foreseeable actions at and near the site(s).
    This list is not intended to be all inclusive, nor is it a 
predetermination of potential environmental impacts.

5.0 The NEPA Process

    The SEIS for the Nichols Ranch ISR Project will be prepared 
pursuant to the NRC's NEPA Regulations at 10 CFR part 51. The NRC will 
continue its environmental review of the application and as soon as 
practicable, the NRC and its contractor will prepare and publish a 
draft SEIS. NRC currently plans to have a 45-day public comment period 
for the draft SEIS. Availability of the draft SEIS and the dates of the 
public comment period will be announced in the Federal Register and the 
NRC Web site: http://www.nrc.gov. The final SEIS will include responses 
to public comments received on the draft SEIS.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 28th day of July 2009.

    For The Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Patrice M. Bubar,
Deputy Director, Environmental Protection and Performance Assessment 
Directorate, Division of Waste Management and Environmental Protection, 
Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management 
Programs.
[FR Doc. E9-18687 Filed 8-4-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P