original acreage.32 The notified property owners then have 10 days to file written objections with the DMM director and/or request a public hearing regarding the proposed operation. According to DMM, the hearing is an informal “information gathering” forum in which people attending may present comments as well as evidence. The hearings officer then makes a written recommendation regarding the permit to the DMM director. Based on this recommendation and any additional information pursuant to the hearing, the DMM director issues a final order on the permit. This final order may be appealed to civil court in the city or county where the mine is located.
The committee’s analysis of the existing regulatory environment applicable to uranium mining and processing in Virginia has produced the following findings:
• The activities involved in uranium mining, processing, reclamation, and long-term stewardship are subject to a variety of federal and state laws that are the responsibility of numerous federal and state agencies.
• Because the Commonwealth of Virginia enacted a moratorium on uranium mining in 1982, the state has essentially no experience regulating uranium mining and there is no existing regulatory infrastructure specifically for uranium mining. The state does have programs that regulate hard-rock mining and coal mining.
• There is no federal law that specifically applies to uranium mining on non-federally owned lands; state laws and regulations have jurisdiction over these mining activities. Federal and state worker protection laws, and federal and state environmental laws, variously apply to occupational safety and health, and air, water, and land pollution resulting from mining activities.
• At present, there are gaps in legal and regulatory coverage for activities involved in uranium mining, processing, reclamation, and long-term stewardship. Some of these gaps have resulted from the moratorium on uranium mining that Virginia has in place; 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.