others are gaps in current laws or regulations, or in the way that they are applied. Although there are several options for addressing these gaps, the committee notes that Canada and the state of Colorado have enacted laws and promulgated regulations based on best practices that require modern mining and processing methods, and empower regulatory agencies with strong information-gathering, enforcement, and inspection authorities. In addition, best practice would be for state agencies, with public stakeholder involvement, to encourage the owner/operator of a facility to go beyond the regulations to adopt international industry standards if they are more rigorous than the existing regulations.
• The U.S. federal government has only limited recent experience regulating conventional1 uranium processing and reclamation of uranium mining and processing facilities. Because almost all uranium mining and processing to date has taken place in parts of the United States that have a negative water balance (i.e., dry climates with low rainfall), federal agencies have limited experience applying laws and regulations in positive water balance (i.e., wet climates with medium to high rainfall) situations. The U.S. federal government has considerable experience attempting to remediate contamination due to past, inappropriate practices at closed or abandoned sites.
• Under the current regulatory structure, opportunities for meaningful public involvement are fragmented and limited.
This chapter discusses the laws, regulations, and policies—and the relevant federal agencies—that are applicable to uranium mining, processing, reclamation, and long-term stewardship. Because of Virginia’s moratorium on uranium mining, Virginia state agencies have not been permitted to develop a modern state-specific regulatory environment. However, to the extent possible, the Virginia agencies that might be involved in regulating mining, processing, and reclamation if the moratorium were to be lifted are identified. For purposes of comparison, brief information on the regulatory environment in Canada and Colorado are included (Boxes 7.1, 7.2). These two examples are noted here because they are situations where there has been ongoing and recent development
1Conventional mining and processing includes surface or open-pit mining, or some combination of the two, and their associated processing plants, but excludes ISL/ISR uranium recovery.