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EPA issues construction approval for impoundments at the Piņon Ridge Uranium Mill in Montrose County (Colo.)

Release Date: 10/27/2011
Contact Information: Deborah Lebow-Aal 303-312-6223; Matthew Allen, 303-312-6085

Approval based on compliance with Clean Air Act standards for radon emissions from impoundments

Contact: Deborah Lebow-Aal 303-312-6223; Matthew Allen, 303-312-6085

(Denver, Colo. – October 27, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a construction approval to Energy Fuels Resources Corp. for the construction and operation of uranium byproduct material impoundments at the Piņon Ridge Uranium Mill in Montrose County, Colo.

EPA’s construction approval is based on a determination that the facility’s impoundments are in full compliance with requirements outlined in the Clean Air Act under Radionuclide National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs). Specifically, EPA has approved construction of a tailings impoundment, limited to 40 acres in area, and no more than 40 acres of evaporation ponds at the Piņon Ridge Mill. In conducting this review, EPA considered information regarding the size and number of impoundments and details related to impoundment liners and leachate collection systems.

EPA is issuing this approval following an informal public review period, which was initiated in March and generated several dozen comments. As a result of this review process, EPA added specific conditions to the construction approval that limit the amount of organic material placed in impoundments and require Energy Fuels to submit a detailed surface and groundwater monitoring plan for EPA approval. These and other approval conditions are intended to ensure the impoundments are constructed and operated in a manner that protects human health and the environment.

EPA’s sole regulatory role related to the proposed mill is to review and respond to the construction approval application for uranium byproduct impoundments. Radon emissions from impoundments containing uranium byproduct material are regulated by the Clean Air Act under Radionuclide NESHAPs. EPA’s determination is that the tailings impoundment and the evaporation ponds will be in compliance with 40 C.F.R. section 61.252(b)(1) and 40 C.F.R. section 192.32(a), as required by 40 C.F.R. section 61.252(c).

All other licenses and permits for the Piņon Ridge mill are the responsibility of the State of Colorado. These responsibilities include the regulation of radioactive emissions. The State issued a Radioactive Materials License for this mill on March 7, 2011.

EPA’s final construction approval, a response to comments, and other related documents can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/region8/air/pinonridge.html