• The U.S. federal government has only limited recent experience regulating conventional33uranium 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. Key points in the regulatory process for public participation include (1) the promulgation of regulations of general applicability, (2) the licensing of particular facilities, and (3) the development of postclosure plans for facility reclamation and long-term stewardship. Regarding (1), the current regulatory structure requires that members of the public who are interested in prospective uranium mining and processing in Virginia be aware of and respond to rulemaking by several different state and federal agencies. The Virginia Regulatory Town Hall could provide an online means of coordinating information and opinion exchanges about upcoming state-level regulatory changes pertinent to mining, but at present the Regulatory Town Hall does not offer transparent cross-agency coordination by topic. Regarding (2), the Division of Mineral Mining’s explicit opportunities for public participation in licensing a mining facility currently are limited to adjacent landowners. The USNRC has a more robust approach to public participation in licensing a uranium processing facility. Its regulations require the USNRC to conduct an EIS, during which prelicensing public meetings or hearings will be held in the vicinity of the proposed facility. Regarding (3), there is no evidence at present that members of the public would be included in deliberations about postclosure plans at the time those plans would be implemented.
33Conventional 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.