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EPA reopens comment period for protective standards on uranium, thorium ore wastes

Proposed rule puts focus on groundwater protection and restoration

Posted August 2, 2017

EPA reopened the comment period for its proposed rule on Health and Environmental Protection Standards for Uranium and Thorium Mill Tailings. The Agency is requesting public input and information on revisions to the standards.

The proposed rule addresses standards that are designed to protect public health, safety, and the environment from radiological and non-radiological hazards associated with uranium and thorium ore processing, and their accompanying wastes.

EPA says that since the last revision of the standard in 1995, in-situ recovery has become the predominant method of uranium extraction in the U.S. The Agency wants to regulate the byproduct materials produced by in-situ recovery, primarily focusing on groundwater protection and restoration.

The proposed rule would set post-restoration groundwater standards for 12 constituents and add monitoring requirements.

EPA first proposed new groundwater protection standards for in-situ recovery activities in January 2015. However, after reviewing public comments and new information, the Agency decided to re-propose the rule and ask for additional public comments.

Comments must be received by October 16, 2017.

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