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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: June 12th 2009


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:: US Tightens Review Process for Uranium Operations

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will employ a more stringent review process for environmental assessments of new in-situ leach uranium recovery (ISR) operations in western parts of the US.

NRC chairman Gregory B Jaczko said the move comes on the back of public concerns that the existing generic review can overlook unique characteristics of individual sites.

Under the new approach the agency will issue full supplemental environmental impact statements for recovery operations instead of environmental assessments as originally planned.

Expansion and restart operations, however, will continue to undergo less intensive environmental reviews.

“Citizens may have confidence in the certainty of our regulatory decisions, because our reviews will be as comprehensive and transparent as possible, with maximum opportunity for the public to participate in the process," Jaczko said.

The commission expects to receive about 17 licence applications, including new facilities, expansions and restarts, for ISR mining facilities through 2010.

The ISR mining method requires chemicals to be pumped into groundwater to remove surrounding ore from the uranium.




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