Energy policy – nuclear: New rules for in-situ uranium mines under review

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Once the state approves them, those rules, now in the process of being written by Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety officials, aim to keep groundwater contamination from the mine in check and determine how much input the public will have in the mine permitting process…

The proposed rules lay out how Powertech would have to study what the groundwater quality is at the mine site before mining begins, prove that other similar mines elsewhere have been able to prevent groundwater contamination, and how it plans to reclaim the mine once its operations are complete and return the groundwater quality to what it will be before mining begins. The rules, required by a 2008 state law regulating in situ leach uranium mines like the one Powertech is proposing, have been evolving since May. The latest revision went public Oct. 20…

Specifically, the proposed rules would require the company to, among other things:

> Compare the plans for the Centennial Project to and describe at least five other in situ leach mines elsewhere that did not contaminate the groundwater, illustrating Powertech’s ability to keep its toxic chemicals contained.

> Submit a plan to the DRMS for determining the mine site’s “baseline” water quality, or the groundwater quality prior to the start of mining. Once the plan is submitted, the public will be allowed 10 days to comment.

> Carry out that plan for five calendar quarters, describing in detail both pre-mining surface and ground water conditions.

> Create an extensive groundwater monitoring plan.

The proposed rules allow the state to deny Powertech a mining permit if it can’t prove it will fully reclaim the mine and clean any groundwater it has contaminated, there are any future domestic or agricultural uses for any of the groundwater Powertech might contaminate, or, among other reasons, Powertech willfully violates environmental protection requirements of the rules.

More nuclear coverage here.

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