Environmental Impact Areas Analyzed in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for In Situ Leach Uranium Milling Facilities

In anticipation of receiving numerous license applications for new in situ leach (ISL) uranium recovery facilities (commonly known as in situ recovery facilities) in 2008 through 2010, the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has prepared a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS). In doing so, the NRC staff analyzed common environmental issues associated with the construction, operation, and decommissioning of ISL facilities, as well as the ground water restoration at such facilities, if they are located in particular regions of the western United States. Specifically, based on the public scoping process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the NRC identified the following impact areas1 for analysis in the GEIS:

  • Public and occupational health includes potential public and occupational consequences of construction, routine operation, transportation, and credible accident scenarios (including natural events), as well as decommissioning.

  • Waste management includes the types of waste expected to be generated, handled, stored, and subject to re-use or disposal.

  • Land use encompasses the anticipated plans, policies, and controls for use of the land.

  • Transportation includes the potential transportation modes, routes, quantities, and risk estimates.

  • Geology and soil relate to the physical geography, topography, geology, and soil characteristics.

  • Water resources encompass the surface and ground water hydrology, water use and quality, and the potential for degradation.

  • Ecology encompasses the potential impact on wetlands, aquatic, terrestrial, economically and recreationally important species, and threatened and endangered species.

  • Air quality relates to meteorological conditions, ambient background, pollutant sources, and the potential for degradation.

  • Noise includes ambient noise, sources, and sensitive receptors.

  • Historical and cultural resources encompass historical, archaeological, and traditional cultural resources.

  • Visual and scenic resources include landscape characteristics, man-made features, and view shed.

  • Socioeconomics relates to the demography, economic base, labor pool, housing, transportation, utilities, public services and facilities, education, recreation, and cultural resources.

  • Environmental justice involves potential disproportionately high and adverse impacts to minority and low-income populations.

  • Cumulative effects encompass all effects from past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions at and near the site.

1 The examples listed for each of the above impact areas are not intended to be all-inclusive, nor is this list an indication that environmental impacts will occur.