Oversight of Licensed Uranium Recovery Operations

Inspections of uranium recovery facilities licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are essential to ensure that they conduct their operations in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. The inspection frequency for a given facility is based on the potential radiation hazard of the licensee's program, so that the licensee that presents the greatest risk to the health and safety of the public and the environment requires the most frequent inspections. In general, however, inspection frequencies range from several times per year (for operating facilities) to once every 2 years (for facilities in standby mode or decommissioning). Note, in cases where an in situ recovery site is in standby, with the potential to operate again and continuing to use their process to extract uranium, inspection frequency would generally be one a year. 

NRC inspections focus on those areas that are most important to safety and security, using objective measures of performance. In general, these inspections address a variety of topics, including management organization and controls, radiation protection, chemical processes, radioactive waste management, emergency preparedness, fire safety, environmental protection, and onsite construction. Specific information about these inspections can be found in the NRC's Inspection Manual.

NRC inspectors prepare an inspection report upon completion of each inspection. Copies of these reports are available through the NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS); you can locate these inspection reports by searching with a licensee's name or docket number.

Violations of NRC requirements are evaluated to determine their impact on safety. If a violation is of low safety-significance, it may be discussed with the licensee with no formal enforcement action taken. In such instances, the licensee is expected to resolve the problem and prevent recurrence. However, if the violation is of greater safety-significance, the NRC may levy a written notice of violation and, in certain circumstances, a fine.