[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 218 (Tuesday, November 13, 2007)]
[Pages 63934-63935]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-22114]



[Docket No. 40-8905]

Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of 
No Significant Impact for Cell 2 Expansion Reclamation Plan License 
Amendment; Rio Algom Mining LLC, Ambrosia Lake, NM

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas McLaughlin, Project Manager, 
Materials Decommissioning Branch, Division of Waste Management and 
Environmental Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials and 
Environmental Management Programs, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC, 20555. Telephone: (301) 415-5869; fax number: (301) 
415-5369; e-mail: [email protected].


I. Introduction

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) proposes to issue a license 
amendment of Source Materials License No. SUA-1473 held by Rio Algom 
Mining LLC (Rio Algom/the licensee), to approve a Cell 2 Expansion 
Reclamation Plan for its uranium mill tailings site in Ambrosia Lake, 
New Mexico. The NRC has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for 
this amendment in accordance with the requirements of 10 CFR Part 51, 
and has concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is 
appropriate. The amendment will be issued following the publication of 
this Notice.
    The Ambrosia Lake site is in the Ambrosia Lake mining district of 
New Mexico, 25 miles north of Grants, New Mexico. Rio Algom began 
processing ore in 1958, and processed approximately 33 million tons of 
ore through 1985. The site continued to be an active uranium production 
facility through December 2002. Site reclamation activities commenced 
in 1989 with some work on the top surface of the largest tailings cell. 
There are three tailings/waste cells situated adjacent to each other at 
the Rio Algom site: The large Tailings Cell 1, Tailings Cell 2 to the 
west of Cell 1, and a small Cell 3 east of Cell 1 that was used to 
dispose of contaminated windblown material. Reclamation of Cell 1 is 
complete, and cover construction of Cells 2 and 3 is still ongoing. 
Reclamation activities have at times included unlined evaporation pond 
residue excavation and disposal, contaminated windblown soil cleanup, 
tailings impoundment reclamation, surface water erosion protection 
feature construction, and mill building demolition.
    The licensee has indicated that this proposed cell expansion design 
is one component of the overall site reclamation plan. The licensee 
previously has addressed, and NRC has approved, the remaining site-wide 
reclamation plan elements through separate licensing actions, including 
the original reclamation plan for Tailings Cells 1, 2, and 3 (approved 
in September 1990), mill demolition, relocation of lined evaporation 
pond sediments, soil decommissioning plan, and groundwater remediation.

II. EA Summary

    In April 2005, Rio Algom sent the NRC a Reclamation Plan for 
disposal of evaporation pond sediments for its Ambrosia Lake uranium 
mill tailings facility. In a followup to the proposed plan, Rio Algom 
submitted, under letter dated May 31, 2007, Revision 1 of the plan and 
a response to NRC's request for additional information. The Uranium 
Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978, as amended, and 
regulations in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 40 (10 
CFR Part 40) require that material at uranium mill tailings sites be 
disposed of in a manner that protects human health and the environment.
    Rio Algom proposes to excavate its lined evaporation ponds (Ponds 9 
and 11 through 21), and place all the contaminated sediments, dikes, 
and underlying materials onto the existing Tailings Cell 2. The 
expanded Cell 2 will then be closed as part of the facility 
decommissioning plan. Rio Algom estimates that up to 3 million cubic 
yards of materials will be excavated, hauled, and compacted as part of 
this action. The reclamation of the expanded Tailings Cell 2 is 
intended to: (1) Control radiological hazards for 1,000 years to the 
extent reasonably achievable; (2) limit the release of radon-222 from 
uranium by-product, and radon-220 from thorium by-product materials to 
the atmosphere so as not to exceed an average of 20 pCi/m\2\/sec; (3) 
reduce direct gamma exposure from the reclaimed tailings cell to 
background levels; (4) avoid proliferation of small waste disposal 
sites; and (5) provide a final site that is geotechnically stable and 
provides protection of water resources for the long term.
    The NRC staff has prepared the EA in support of the proposed 
license amendment. The New Mexico Environment Department was consulted 
during the EA preparation. The staff considered impacts that the 
licensee's amended Reclamation Plan will have on ground water, surface 
water, socioeconomic conditions, threatened and endangered species, 
transportation, land use, public and occupational health, and historic 
and cultural resources.
    The EA supports a FONSI based on the following conclusions. The 
potential impacts of the proposed action are limited to the land 
surface and are temporary during the construction activity. The direct 
impacts to the surface primarily will be dust generation due to 
excavating material, hauling it to the disposal area, and working it at 
the disposal area. Fugitive dust from heavy equipment operation will be 
mitigated through the use of dust suppression methods on haul roads. 
Impacts at the expansion cell area itself are minimal, since the area 
is already disturbed from site reclamation activities. The licensee's 
implementation of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 
(NPDES) permits, its Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan for the 
site, its site Health, Safety and Environment Management System, and 
NRC license requirements provide adequate assurances to control impacts 
to the environment. Additional ambient air monitoring stations have 
been installed to collect data to demonstrate that control measures are 
implemented and effective.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    On the basis of the EA, NRC has concluded that there are no 
significant environmental impacts from the proposed amendment, and 
there is no

[[Page 63935]]

need to prepare an environmental impact statement.

IV. Further Information

    Documents related to this action, including the application for 
amendment and supporting documentation, are available electronically at 
the NRC's Electronic Reading Room at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. From this site, you can access the NRC's Agencywide 
Document Access and Management System (ADAMS), which provides text and 
image files of NRC's public documents. The ADAMS accession numbers for 
the documents related to this notice are as follows:

                   Document                     accession No.                         Date
NUREG-1748, ``Environmental Review Guidance       ML031000403  April 10, 2003.
 for Licensing Actions Associated With NMSS
 Programs--Final Report,'' Nuclear Regulatory
 Commission, Washington, DC.
NUREG-1620, Rev. 1, ``Standard Review Plan        ML040560561  February 19, 2004.
 for Review of a Reclamation Plan for Mill
 Tailings Sites Under Title II of the Uranium
 Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of
 1978,'' Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
 Washington, DC.
Rio Algom Mining LLC, 2004, ``Closure Plan-       ML050240058  November 1, 2004.
 Lined Evaporation Ponds''.
Rio Algom, 2005; Reclamation Plan for             ML051290050  April 30, 2005.
 Disposal of Pond Sediments and Ancillary
 Materials, Tailings Cell 2 Expansion.
Rio Algom 2007; Reclamation Plan for Disposal     ML071790245  May 31, 2007.
 of Pond Sediments and Ancillary Materials,       ML071790250
 Tailings Cell 2 Expansion, Revision 1.
Environmental Assessment for the Tailings         ML072670278  September, 2007.
 Cell 2 Expansion Reclamation Plan, Rio Algom
 Mining LLC's Uranium Mill Facility, Ambrosia
 Lake, New Mexico, Final Report.

    If you do not have access to ADAMS or if there are problems in 
accessing the documents located in ADAMS, contact the NRC's Public 
Document Room (PDR) Reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or 
by e-mail to [email protected].
    These documents may also be viewed electronically on the public 
computers located at the NRC's PDR, O1 F21, One White Flint North, 
11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. The PDR reproduction 
contractor will copy documents for a fee.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 2nd day of November, 2007.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Keith I. McConnell,
Deputy Director, Decommissioning and Uranium Recovery Licensing 
Directorate, Division of Waste Management and Environmental Protection, 
Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management 
 [FR Doc. E7-22114 Filed 11-9-07; 8:45 am]