[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 91 (Wednesday, May 13, 2009)]
[Pages 22599-22600]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-11201]




Proposed Generic Communication; Pre-Licensing Construction 
Activities at Proposed, Unlicensed Uranium Recovery Facilities

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Proposed generic communication: Reopening of public comment 


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is reopening the 
comment period specific to the information collection aspects of a 
proposed regulatory issue summary (RIS) published on March 27, 2009 (74 
FR 13483), which presents the NRC's interpretation of the regulations 
governing the commencement of construction found in 10 CFR 40.32(e). 
The comment period for this proposed RIS closed on April 27, 2009.

DATES: Comment period expires May 15, 2009. Comments submitted after 
this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but assurance 
of consideration cannot be given except for comments received on or 
before this date.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to the Chief, Uranium Recovery 
Licensing Branch, Division of Waste Management and Environmental 
Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental 
Management Programs, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mail Stop T-
8F5, Washington, DC 20555-0001, and cite the publication date and page 
number of this Federal Register notice. Written comments may also be 
delivered to NRC Headquarters, 11545 Rockville Pike (Room T-8F5), 
Rockville, Maryland, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Federal 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Stephen J. Cohen at 301-415-7182 
or by e-mail at [email protected].

ADDRESSES: All holders of operating licenses for uranium recovery 
facilities and all companies that have submitted applications to 
construct new uranium recovery facilities of all types (conventional 
mills, heap leach, and in situ recovery (ISR) facilities) or letters of 
intent to submit such applications.


    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this 
regulatory issue summary (RIS) to inform addressees of the NRC's policy 
regarding the permissible construction activities at proposed, 
unlicensed uranium recovery facilities. The NRC is issuing this RIS in 
response to industry inquiries regarding the activities that applicants 
may undertake prior to receiving a license.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In relation to the applications for new 
uranium recovery facilities currently under review and those 
applications expected over the next several years, the NRC has been 
queried by the uranium recovery industry about those construction 
activities that would be permissible at proposed uranium recovery 
facilities before a license is granted. The industry has requested 
information on permissible construction activities, including the 
potential use of limited work authorizations (LWAs) as provided in the 
reactor program, in the interest of minimizing the lead time from 
receipt of a license to the initiation of uranium recovery operations.
    The NRC's regulations in 10 CFR 40.32(e) prohibits the commencement 
of construction of a uranium recovery facility until a license is 
issued. Moreover, commencement of construction prior to the issuance of 
a license would be grounds for denial of a license. ``Commencement of 
construction'' includes any clearing of land, excavation, or other 
substantial action that would adversely affect the environment of a 
site. However, the rule does permit site exploration, construction of 
roads necessary for site exploration, borings to determine foundation 
conditions, or other preconstruction monitoring or testing to establish 
background information related to the suitability of the site or the 
protection of environmental values. These activities may be conducted 
before a license is granted.
    According to industry, ISR applicants, therefore, should be allowed 
to build out most of the facilities without a license, utilizing a 
tiered system of

[[Page 22600]]

activities. Tier 1 includes activities for which NRC would have no 
jurisdiction. Tier 2 activities would include those requiring NRC 
approval, but not a license. Tier 3 activities would not occur until a 
license is issued and would include construction of the evaporation 
ponds and actual operations.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 29th day of April 2009.

    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. E9-11201 Filed 5-12-09; 8:45 am]