[Federal Register Volume 69, Number 79 (Friday, April 23, 2004)]
[Pages 22100-22101]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E4-910]



[Docket No. 40-8084]

Finding of No Significant Impact and Notice of Availability of 
the Environmental Assessment Addressing A License Amendment Request To 
Approve Rio Algom Mining Llc's Application for Alternate Concentration 
Limits At Its Lisbon Uranium Mill Tailings Impoundment Located in San 
Juan County, UT

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of availability of an environmental assessment and 
finding of no significant impact.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jill Caverly, 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) 415-6699 
and e-mail [email protected].


I. Introduction

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering the 
issuance of an amendment to Rio Algom Mining LLC's (Rio Algom) Source 
Materials License SUA-1119. The proposed action would revise 
groundwater protection standards from background to alternate 
concentration limits (ACL) at its Lisbon Uranium Mill Tailings 
Impoundment located in San Juan County, Utah. The licensee's 
application for ACLs was made pursuant to 10 CFR part 40, Appendix A, 
Criterion 5 B(6), by letter dated May 22, 2002, as revised by 
additional information sent, at the staffs request, on January 7, 2004, 
January 12, 2004, and February 19, 2004. This request was previously 
noticed in the Federal Register on July 24, 2002 (67FR48495), with an 
opportunity to provide written comments or to request a hearing.
    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 this request. Based 
on this evaluation, the NRC has concluded that a Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate for the proposed licensing 

II. EA Summary

    The EA was prepared to evaluate the environmental impacts 
associated with Rio Algom's application for ACLs for groundwater at its 
Lisbon uranium mill facility. Approving this action will result in the 
cessation of active groundwater remediation (pump and treat), allowing 
groundwater contamination at the site to migrate and naturally degrade 
over time and distance. ACLs for this groundwater will be protective at 
the site boundary. In addition, a post-remediation groundwater 
monitoring program will assure that protection of human health and the 
environment is maintained.
    As indicated in the ACL application and the response to the staff's 
request for additional information (RAI), Rio Algom proposes the 
following revised standards (ACL) at the Point of Compliance 
(monitoring location):

                                                   Arsenic  (mg/    Molybdenum    Selenium  (mg/   Uranium  (mg/
                     Aquifer                            L)            (mg/L)            L)              L)
Southern........................................            3.06           23.34            0.93           96.87
Northern........................................            2.63           58.43            0.10          101.58

    Rio Algom asserts that it has met the Federal requirements under 10 
CFR part 40, Appendix A, Criterion 5 for ACLs. It has included fate and 
transport modeling to demonstrate that groundwater contaminant levels 
will degrade to acceptable levels prior to migrating to the point of 
exposure (POE), i.e., property boundary. At this point, an exposure 
assessment indicates that the human dose from all viable pathways will 
not exceed the criteria in subpart E of 10 CFR part 20 (25 mrem/year). 
Additionally, a corrective action assessment indicates that the ACL 
approach is the only economical alternative that will be protective of 
human health and the environment.
    The NRC staff has reviewed this request in accordance with the 
requirements under 10 CFR part 40,

[[Page 22101]]

Appendix A, Criterion 5 and NRC guidance NUREG-1620 Rev 1, ``Standard 
Review Plan for Review of a Reclamation Plan for Mill Tailings Sites 
Under Title II of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 
    Groundwater flow and transport modeling from Rio Algom estimates 
that only uranium will migrate past the property boundary above 
background levels for the above stated constitutents during the 1,000 
year compliance period. The maximum estimated uranium concentration in 
the groundwater will be 0.32 mg/L at the property boundary. Rio Algom 
has included flow and transport modeling to demonstrate that 
groundwater contaminant levels will degrade to acceptable levels prior 
to migrating to the POE, i.e, the property boundary.
    Based on groundwater fate and transport modeling, water quality and 
use will not be impacted by the proposed action because the State of 
Utah has determined that the aquifer can be classified as a Class III, 
Limited Use Groundwater Aquifer under Utah Administrative Code R317-6-
3.6, due to the background concentrations found in License Conditions 
53B and 53C. This characterization was confirmed in a letter from the 
State of Utah to the U.S. NRC dated January 12, 2004. Modeling 
indicates that of the hazardous constituents in the groundwater 
contaminant plume (arsenic, selenium, molybdenum, and uranium) only 
uranium will migrate past the long-term care boundary. It is estimated 
that the uranium plume will intersect the boundary in approximately 500 
to 1000 years but will be at levels consistent with the class of use 
and will not present a significant risk to human health or the 
environment. The long-term groundwater monitoring program will monitor 
levels within the plume and downgradient of the plume to assure 
protection of human health and the environment to confirm that model 
predictions are correct.
    The State of Utah also indicated in an e-mail dated January 13, 
2004, that the proposed ACL approach satisfies Utah State Rule R317-6-
15 and will meet the requirements of a Class III-limited Use Aquifer. 
The ACL will be an acceptable corrective action if the uranium 
groundwater concentrations at the POE do not exceed a human dose of 25 
mrem/year (10 CFR part 20, subpart E). Therefore, performing an 
exposure assessment at the POE conforms with guidance in NUREG-1620, 
section which states that ``exposure pathways should be 
identified and evaluated using water classification and water use 
standards, along with existing and anticipated water uses.''
    The results of Rio Algom's exposure assessment (including its 
bounding analyses) and the NRC staff's confirmatory analysis indicate 
that the dose to the critical group, i.e., the offsite rancher, at the 
POE from site-generated uranium should not exceed 25 mrem/year, which 
conforms to the NRC criteria for unrestricted release of sites with 
residual radioactivity in 10 CFR part 20.1402.
    Rio Algom conducted a corrective action assessment to identify 
potential remedial alternatives for the restoration of site 
groundwater, and to determine the costs and benefits associated with 
various remedial actions. Rio Algom believes that the only economically 
viable alternative is natural attenuation because the cost benefit 
ratios associated with active remedial alternatives are far too great 
to justify their implementation. Additionally, Rio Algom believes that 
the proposed action is necessary because it is technically 
impracticable and economically infeasible to remediate the groundwater 
to the background levels required by its License Condition 53. The NRC 
staff has reviewed and agrees with these conclusions.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    Pursuant to 10 CFR part 51, the NRC has prepared the EA, summarized 
above. The staff has determined that no significant environmental 
impacts are expected when groundwater pump and treat programs are 
terminated. There will be no significant impacts to the surface 
features and therefore, no effect on wildlife.
    Constituents in the groundwater will migrate off site but will not 
pose any significant impact to the environment because attenuation of 
the constituents will be at levels that are consistent with the aquifer 
class of use as designated by the State of Utah. A dose model verified 
that the constituents in the groundwater will not cause additional risk 
to human health or the environment.
    The proposed NRC approval of the action when combined with known 
effects on resource areas at the site, including further site 
remediation, is not anticipated to result in any cumulative impacts at 
the sites. Therefore, the NRC staff has concluded that there will be no 
significant environmental impacts on the quality of the human 
environment and, accordingly, the staff has determined that preparation 
of an Environmental Impact Statement is not warranted.

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 and copying 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. The ADAMS 
Accession Numbers for the licensee's request, as supplemented and 
revised, are: ML021710023, ML021710056, ML021710083, ML021710139, 
ML021710181, ML021710189, ML021710450, ML021710605, and ML021750010. 
The ADAMS Accession number for the EA is ML040990712. Most of the 
documents referenced in the EA are also available through ADAMS. 
Documents can also be viewed electronically on the public computers 
located at the NRC's Public Document Room, O1 F21, One White Flint 
North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. The PDR reproduction 
contractor will copy documents for a fee. Persons who do not have 
access to ADAMS, should contact the NRC PDR Reference staff by 
telephone at l-800-397-4209, or 301-415-4737, or by e-mail to 
[email protected].

    Dated in Rockville, Maryland, this 12th day of April, 2004.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Jill Caverly,
Project Manager, Fuel Cycle Facilities Branch, Division of Fuel Cycle 
Safety and Safeguards, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and 
[FR Doc. E4-910 Filed 4-22-04; 8:45 am]