Regulation and Environmental Monitoring

Routine monitoring of water, air, and soil quality is required by state and federal regulations. Before mine and mill development, environmental monitoring stations must be set up in proposed site areas to measure baseline levels of constituents of concern (including contaminants) in the air, groundwater, surface water, and soil.  During mill operations, sampling and measurements are conducted at most of these stations as well as other locations in the immediate vicinity of the mine and mill and at downstream locations as required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission license conditions. The data is maintained in real time on a GIS system and reported to the appropriate agencies.  Sampling and testing occur at least quarterly until the data patterns justify a different frequency. The responsible state and federal agencies determine the frequency of sampling and testing.

Multiple federal and state agencies regulate uranium-mining and –milling operations in the U.S. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) would regulate the mining of uranium ore in Virginia, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates the milling of ore and the disposal of tailings in a number of states.  The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the Virginia Department of Health, the NRC and the DMME would various aspects of worker safety.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NRC oversee the protection of water quality at such operations already, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the DMME would also monitor water quality at uranium-mining operations if they existed in Virginia. The EPA and the NRC regulate air quality by ensuring the control of radon and dust emissions; the DMME and DEQ would also regulate air quality at uranium-mining operations in Virginia.