[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 172 (Tuesday, September 6, 2016)]
[Pages 61257-61258]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-21308]



[Docket No. 40-9068; NRC-2008-0391]

Lost Creek In Situ Uranium Recovery Project; Underground 
Injection Control Class V Wells

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact; 


SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering a 
license amendment request for Source Material License: SUA-1598, for 
the Lost Creek In Situ Uranium Recovery (ISR) Project located in 
Sweetwater County, Wyoming. The NRC staff is issuing an environmental 
assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) associated 
with the proposed action.

DATES: The EA and FONSI referenced in this document are available 
September 6, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2008-0391, when contacting the 
NRC about the availability of information regarding this document. You 
may obtain publicly-available information related to this document 
using any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2008-0391. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-415-
3463; or via email: [email protected]. For technical questions, 
contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
section of this document.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may obtain publicly-available documents online in the 
ADAMS Public Documents collection at: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and 
then select ``Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, 
please contact the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at: 
1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or via email to: [email protected]. 
The ADAMS accession number for each document referenced (if that 
document is available in ADAMS) is provided the first time that a 
document is referenced.
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kellee Jamerson, Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-7408, email: 
[email protected].


I. Introduction

    The NRC is considering issuance of a license amendment for Source 
Materials License SUA-1598 for the Lost Creek ISR Project located in 
Sweetwater County, Wyoming (ADAMS Accession No. ML15076A380). The 
licensee, Lost Creek ISR, LLC (LCI), proposes by this

[[Page 61258]]

request to inject treated wastewater into Underground Injection Control 
(UIC) Class V disposal wells at the Lost Creek ISR Project site.
    The NRC staff has prepared a final EA as part of its review of this 
proposed license amendment in accordance with the requirements in part 
51 of title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR). Based on 
the final EA, the NRC staff has determined that a FONSI is appropriate. 
The NRC is also conducting a safety evaluation of the proposed license 
amendment pursuant to 10 CFR part 20, ``Standards for Protection 
Against Radiation,'' and 10 CFR part 40, ``Domestic Licensing of Source 
Material,'' and the results will be documented in a separate Safety 
Evaluation Report (SER). If LCI's request is approved, the NRC will 
issue the license amendment following publication of this final EA and 
FONSI and completion of the SER.

II. Environmental Assessment

Description of the Proposed Action

    The Lost Creek site uses the ISR process to recover uranium, which 
involves two primary processes: Mobilization and recovery. First, LCI 
mixes a solution, known as lixiviant, from native ground water, oxygen, 
and bicarbonate, and injects the lixiviant through wells drilled into 
the subsurface uranium orebody. The lixiviant then mobilizes uranium 
found in the orebody to create a uranium-laden solution that is pumped 
from the production wells and through pipelines to the central 
processing plant. In the processing plant, uranium is recovered from 
the solution through ion exchange systems, and then concentrated, 
filtered, and dried in preparation for offsite shipment. The dried 
product is a solid form of mixed uranium oxides and hydroxides known as 
yellowcake. The lixiviant is again pumped into the orebody to continue 
the mobilization and recovery process. Uranium mobilization at the Lost 
Creek site produces excess water, referred to as production bleed, 
which contains byproduct material. The production bleed and other 
liquid wastewater is currently disposed of via UIC Class I deep 
disposal wells in accordance with LCI's NRC license.
    If approved, the proposed license amendment would allow LCI to 
inject treated wastewater into UIC Class V disposal wells at the Lost 
Creek site. Per the UIC program, Class V wells are defined as wells 
used to inject non-hazardous fluids underground. The treatment method 
proposed by LCI consists of the following phases: (1) Ion exchange, (2) 
filtration, (3) reverse osmosis, (4) sodium hydroxide addition, and (5) 
radium removal. During the treatment process, wastewater is separated 
into two streams: (1) A relatively clean fluid [commonly referred to as 
permeate], in which most of the total dissolved solids, radionuclides, 
and trace materials in the fluid are removed; and (2) a concentrated 
fluid, commonly referred to as brine, in which the salts from the fluid 
are concentrated. The treated permeate would then be pumped directly to 
the Class V wells for disposal.

Need for the Proposed Action

    Under the existing NRC source materials license SUA-1598, liquid 
effluents generated from operations and aquifer restoration at the Lost 
Creek ISR site are currently licensed for wastewater disposal via UIC 
Class I deep disposal wells. The proposed action would allow LCI to 
also treat wastewater onsite and dispose of the treated liquid 
effluents using UIC Class V wells. If approved, LCI's use of the UIC 
Class V wells would allow for decreased ground water consumption and an 
increased future ground water restoration rate. This is because LCI 
proposes instead to treat and return to the Battle Spring Formation the 
ground water currently disposed of in Class I deep disposal wells. 
Additionally, because of the accompanying option for managing 
wastewater, the use of Class V wells will significantly shorten the 
time required for ground water restoration.

Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The NRC has assessed the potential environmental impacts associated 
with the proposed action of amending materials license SUA-1598, and 
has documented the results in the final EA (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML16216A273). In conducting the environmental review, the NRC staff 
considered information in the license amendment application (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML15076A380); information in LCI's response to the NRC's 
request for additional information (ADAMS Accession No. ML15239A726); 
and comments from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Wyoming 
Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) (ADAMS Accession No. 
    The NRC staff used the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement 
(SEIS) prepared for the original license application for the Lost Creek 
ISR Project as the baseline for its EA. As documented in the EA, 
specific environmental resource areas are not expected to be impacted 
by the injection of treated wastewater into UIC Class V wells. Other 
environmental resource areas were analyzed and the NRC staff concluded 
that the impacts resulting from the proposed action are small and not 
significant. Therefore, the NRC concluded that the proposed action will 
not result in a significant effect on the quality of the human 

Environmental Impacts of the Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    As an alternative to the proposed action, the NRC staff considered 
denial of the proposed action (i.e., the ``no-action'' alternative). 
Under the no-action alternative, NRC would not approve LCI's request to 
amend materials license SUA-1598 to utilize UIC Class V wells for 
disposal of treated wastewater. The no-action alternative will result 
in LCI's continued use of UIC Class I deep disposal wells as their only 
wastewater disposal method. Impacts from the use of the UIC Class I 
wells were previously assessed by the NRC in its SEIS for the Lost 
Creek ISR Project (ADAMS Accession No. ML11125A0006).

Agencies and Persons Consulted

    On May 9, 2016, the NRC staff consulted with the WDEQ and the BLM, 
regarding the environmental impact of the proposed action. The federal 
and state agency officials provided comments on the EA and concurred on 
the FONSI.

III. Finding of No Significant Impact

    Based on its review of the proposed action, in accordance with the 
requirement in 10 CFR part 51, the NRC has concluded that the proposed 
action of amending Source Materials License SUA-1598 for the Lost Creek 
ISR Project located in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, will have no 
significant impact on the quality of the human environment. Therefore, 
the NRC has determined, pursuant to 10 CFR 51.31, that preparation of 
an environmental impact statement is not required for the proposed 
action and a FONSI is appropriate.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 29th day of August, 2016.

    For the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Craig G. Erlanger,
Director, Division of Fuel Cycle Safety, Safeguards, and Environmental 
Review Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 2016-21308 Filed 9-2-16; 8:45 am]