Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Site Protection Measures From Surface Water Flow, License Amendment No. 59; Rio Algom Mining, LLC, Ambrosia Lake, NM-SUA-1473, 46337-46339 [E8-18289]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 154 / Friday, August 8, 2008 / Notices items). Records relating to audits, policies, procedures, legislation, regulations, and workload. The proposed disposition instructions are limited to paper records. 6. National Reconnaissance Office, Management Services and Operations (N1–525–08–2, 1 item, 1 temporary item). Audio and video tapes of polygraph interviews of agency staff and contractors containing adverse information. 7. Office of Personnel Management, Federal Investigative Services Division (N1–478–08–2, 8 items, 8 temporary items). Records pertaining to the government-wide security background investigation program including investigation case files, reports, indexes, adjudications, and appraisals of agency security/suitability investigation programs. 8. Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Inspector General (N1– 478–08–1, 16 items, 16 temporary items). Records include administrative sanction files, audit files, investigative files, legislative files, and legal files. The proposed disposition instructions are limited to paper records for most items. Dated: August 1, 2008. Michael J. Kurtz, Assistant Archivist for Records Services— Washington, DC. [FR Doc. E8–18380 Filed 8–7–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7515–01–P Notice of Permits Issued Under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978 National Science Foundation. Notice of permits issued under the Antarctic Conservation of 1978, Public Law 95–541. ACTION: SUMMARY: The National Science Foundation (NSF) is required to publish notice of permits issued under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978. This is the required notice. pwalker on PROD1PC71 with NOTICES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nadene G. Kennedy, Permit Office, Office of Polar Programs, Rm. 755, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. On July 2, 2008, the National Science Foundation published a notice in the Federal Register of permit applications received. A permit was issued on August 5, 2008 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:25 Aug 07, 2008 Nadene G. Kennedy, Permit Officer. [FR Doc. E8–18317 Filed 8–7–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7555–01–P NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION [Docket No.: 40–8905] Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Site Protection Measures From Surface Water Flow, License Amendment No. 59; Rio Algom Mining, LLC, Ambrosia Lake, NM—SUA–1473 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Issuance of Environmental Assessment. AGENCY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas McLaughlin, Project Manager, Materials Decommissioning Branch, Division of Waste Management and Environmental Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC, 20555. Telephone: (301) 415–5869; fax number: (301) 415– 5369; e-mail: tgm@nrc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Introduction NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION AGENCY: to: Kristin M. O’Brien, Permit No. 2009– 011. Jkt 214001 By letter dated October 24, 2007, as supplemented on January 31, 2008, and March 21, 2008, Rio Algom Mining, LLC, (Rio Algom, or the Licensee) submitted an application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), requesting an amendment to Source Materials License SUA–1473 for the Ambrosia Lake Mill Facility, in Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico. Rio Algom seeks the approval of its proposed site erosion protection measures designed to prevent surface water flow from damaging its uranium mill tailings site. The NRC prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for this proposed action in accordance with the requirements of 10 CFR Part 51. Based on the EA, the NRC concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate with respect to the proposed action. The amendment would be issued following the publication of this FONSI and EA in the Federal Register. The Licensee has indicated that the proposed site erosion protection measures from surface water flow are the final component of the overall site PO 00000 Frm 00103 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 46337 reclamation plan. The Licensee previously has addressed, and NRC has approved, the remaining site-wide reclamation plan elements through separate licensing actions, including the original reclamation plan for Tailings Cells 1, 2, and 3 (approved in September 1990), mill demolition, relocation of lined evaporation pond sediments, soil decommissioning plan, and groundwater remediation. The expansion of Tailings Cell 2 was approved by License Amendment No. 58. The current licensing action is to protect the Tailing Cells from erosion from surface water by constructing a channel to divert water flow around them. II. Environmental Assessment 1.0 Background The Ambrosia Lake site is in the Ambrosia Lake Mining District of New Mexico, 25 miles north of Grants, New Mexico. Rio Algom began processing ore in 1958, and processed approximately 33 million tons of ore through 1985. The site continued to be an active uranium production facility through December 2002. Site reclamation activities commenced in 1989 with some work on the top surface of the largest tailings cell. There are three tailings/waste cells situated adjacent to each other at the Rio Algom site: The large Tailings Cell 1, Tailings Cell 2 to the west of Cell 1, and a small Cell 3 east of Cell 1 that was used to dispose of contaminated windblown material. Reclamation of Cell 1 is complete, and cover construction of Cells 2 and 3 is still ongoing and almost complete. Reclamation activities have at times included unlined evaporation pond residue excavation and disposal, contaminated windblown soil cleanup, tailings impoundment reclamation, surface water erosion protection feature construction, and mill building demolition. In meetings and discussions with the Licensee in 2006 and 2007, the NRC staff was informed that Rio Algom intended to leave remaining contaminants under Ponds 4, 5, and 6 in place in the Arroyo del Puerto floodplain. Ponds 4, 5, and 6 were unlined and uranium, radium-226, and thorium-230, have been found to extend to 10 feet deep in some areas. The top 4 to 5 feet of contaminated soil in these Ponds have been removed and the material placed in Tailings Cell 3, then the footprint was covered with 1 to 2 feet of clean soil. The staff expressed concerns that the remaining contaminates under the Ponds needed to be protected from erosion due to E:\FR\FM\08AUN1.SGM 08AUN1 46338 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 154 / Friday, August 8, 2008 / Notices pwalker on PROD1PC71 with NOTICES periodic flooding that occurs in the Arroyo del Puerto. These Ponds extend over an area of about 50 acres and must be stabilized and protected from erosion. They are located inside the exterior diversion berm, but need to be protected from the effects of direct precipitation and the resulting overland runoff. RAMC proposes to provide a 3inch thick layer of rock to protect the top slope from erosion. Rio Algom’s decision to leave this material in place has resulted in significant changes to the overall design of the Arroyo del Puerto channel. Major revisions included construction of a very large diversion channel and significant additions of riprap to protect against erosion and lateral migration of the realigned channel. The re-design and protection of the Arroyo del Puerto channel is the last phase of the Ambrosia Lake facility reclamation. The NRC staff recently approved License Amendment 58 which finalized the capping of the remaining mill tailing waste in Tailings Cell 2. An extensive EA was prepared for this licensing action (See ADAMS ML072670278 dated 10/31/2007) which included the discussion of land use, geology, surface and ground water, ecology (flora and fauna), climate, socioeconomic impact, historical and cultural resources, public and occupational health, and transportation. The scope of the current EA, which evaluates the construction of a channel to divert water flow away from the three Tailings Cells and Ponds 4, 5, and 6 to protect them from erosion, is limited to the construction impacts, as all other impacts were previously evaluated in the Tailings Cell 2 expansion EA completed in October 2007. 2.0 The Proposed Action The proposed action is to amend NRC Source Materials License SUA–1473 to approve the construction of a channel to divert water flow away from the three Tailings Cells and Ponds 4, 5, and 6 to protect them from erosion caused by surface water flow. To comply with Criterion 6 of 10 CFR 40, Appendix A (which requires stability of mill Tailings Cells for 1000 years to the extent reasonably achievable and in any case for 200 years), the Licensee proposes to significantly modify the alignment of the original channel by constructing a new channel and berm on the east side of Ponds 4, 5, and 6. The overall design includes construction of: (1) A new exterior diversion channel and berm; (2) a new interior drainage channel; (3) modified riprap protection for mill Tailing Cell 3; and (4) additional riprap protection for Ponds 4, 5, and 6. Each VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:25 Aug 07, 2008 Jkt 214001 of these design features requires rock riprap erosion protection to assure longterm stability. 3.0 Need for the Proposed Action The need for the proposed action is to address NRC concerns about the potential periodic flood conditions of the original channel due to heavy rains, and the long-term stability for the three mill Tailings Cells, and for protection of Ponds 4, 5, and 6. Periodic heavy rains have the potential to wash away the covered uranium mill waste in the three Tailings Cells and under Ponds 4, 5 and 6, and carry the uranium waste outside the property boundary of the Licensee. The purpose of the re-designed channel is to divert any flood water away from the three Tailings Cells and Ponds 4, 5 and 6. This EA fulfills the NRC’s responsibilities under the Atomic Energy Act to make a decision on a proposed license amendment in a manner that ensures protection of the environment. 4.0 The Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action The potential direct impacts of the proposed action are short-term impacts from construction. Long-term and indirect impacts are considered as part of the previously cited analysis. The direct impacts from construction activities primarily would be dust generation due to excavating material to form the channel, noise generated by construction equipment, and water surface runoff. Fugitive dust from heavy equipment operation would be mitigated through the use of dust suppression methods on haul roads. Noise suppression devices will be worn by workers when necessary. The Licensee’s implementation of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, its Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan for the site, its site Health, Safety and Environment Management System, and NRC license requirements would provide adequate assurances to avoid adverse impacts to the environment. Additional ambient air monitoring stations have been installed to collect data from the dust produced during the work activity to demonstrate that control measures would be implemented and effective. These high volume air sampling stations measure the amount of natural Uranium, Th-230, Ra-226, and Pb-210, and the concentrations are compared to the limits described in License Condition No. 10. Potential impacts at the tailings cell area would be small since the area is already disturbed from site PO 00000 Frm 00104 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 reclamation activities and the associated impacts were previously evaluated. The staff evaluated the potential impacts associated with the Licensee’s proposed construction of a channel to divert water from the three mill Tailings Cells and Ponds 4, 5, and 6. The staff finds that the mill tailings waste contained in the three Tailings Cells, and the contaminants in Ponds 4, 5, and 6 would be adequately protected from the effects of erosion that can be caused by the periodic flooding of the Arroyo del Puerto. The Licensee prepared a technical memorandum to respond to New Mexico Department of Environmental Quality (NMDEQ) comments about the disruption or elimination of monitoring wells during the construction of the channel. The technical memorandum stated that no monitoring wells would be abandoned or replaced as the result of the construction of the new diversion channel. However, there are five wells within the area of construction that would have changes in their final surface elevations from construction activities. The NMDEQ and NRC staff also had concerns about the potential for surface water infiltration. The Licensee prepared a second technical memorandum to respond to the question of surface water infiltration and the potential for ground water recharge to the alluvial system beneath the channel from surface water flow. After reviewing the Licensee’s response in their second technical memorandum, NRC staff concluded that Rio Algom adequately explained that the infiltration potential within the Ambrosia Lake Mill site would be small. The following are the most significant points stated by the Licensee that supports its conclusion that infiltration (recharge to the water table) is small: • The drainage area for the Interior Drainage Channel is limited (less than a square mile—440 acres), thus, the surface runoff amounts would be small. • The soils in the vicinity of the Arroyo del Puerto at the Ambrosia Mill site are greater than 30 feet deep, and are composed of fine sandy silt to silty fine sand. Because of their fine texture and low permeability, they would retain more soil moisture than coarser textured soils. As a result, the evapotranspiration process would remove much of the soil moisture before it reaches the water table. The evaporation rate for this site (54 inches/year) is greater (more than 6 times) than the annual precipitation (8.83 inches/year). E:\FR\FM\08AUN1.SGM 08AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 154 / Friday, August 8, 2008 / Notices 5.0 Alternatives to the Proposed Action The staff considered denial of Rio Algom’s request (i.e., the no action alternative) as the only reasonable alternative to the proposed action. Denial of the Licensee’s request would result in no protection from the spreading of contaminants from the capped mill tailing cells or the contaminants in Ponds 4, 5, and 6 from potential flooding in the Arroyo del Puerto floodplain. pwalker on PROD1PC71 with NOTICES 6.0 Agencies and Persons Consulted This EA was prepared by the NRC staff, and coordinated with the NMDEQ. NRC staff provided a draft of its EA to NMDEQ for review. NMDEQ had multiple comments on the Draft EA and the overall design of the proposed channel. Several discussions were held with the staff of NMDEQ and their comments were incorporated into the Draft EA and the technical evaluation report which would accompany the license amendment. A cultural resource survey was conducted on the archeological site discovered during the site inspection, and concluded that no cultural resource sites are present, and that the area is ineligible for inclusion in the National Register. Rio Algom sent a letter to the State of New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA), Historic Preservation Division (HPD), notifying them of the archeological site and the redesign of the channel and 1000-year (flood control) berm to avoid disturbing the area. The NRC staff contacted the NMDCA, HPD, which stated that the site was eligible for inclusion in the National Register, but concurred with the proposed realignment of the channel project to avoid the archeological site, and stated that, as long as the site is avoided, the project would not affect historic properties. The NRC staff has determined that no further consultation would be required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The NRC staff has determined that the proposed action would not affect any federally- or state-listed (threatened and endangered) species or their critical habitat. Therefore, no further consultation would be required under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The NRC staff advised the Licensee to contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to inquire if this project would require a Section 404 (Clean Water Act) permit. The NRC staff contacted the USACE about the Section 404 permit and they requested that NRC send the technical memoranda from the licensee, the concurrence from NMDCA, VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:25 Aug 07, 2008 Jkt 214001 HPD on the proposed channel design, and the Federal Register Notice (FRN) with the EA (See ADAMS ML081890038). The NRC staff sent the technical memorandums and concurrence from NMDCA, HPD to the USACE and will send the FRN when it is finalized. The USACE will then decide if a Section 404 permit is required. 7.0 For The Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Rebecca Tadesse, Acting Deputy Director, Decommissioning and Uranium Recovery, Licensing Directorate, Division of Waste Management, and Environmental Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs. [FR Doc. E8–18289 Filed 8–7–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7590–01–P Conclusion The NRC staff prepared this EA in support of the proposed action. Based on the analysis contained in this EA, the staff concluded that there are no environmental impacts from the proposed action, and that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement is not warranted. Accordingly, the NRC determined that a Finding of No Significant Impact is appropriate. III. Further Information For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the Licensee’s letter and report dated October 24, 2007 (See ADAMS ML073060379, ML073060380, ML073060381, ML073060382, and ML073060383), a report from the Licensee dated January 31, 2008 (See ADAMS ML080350250, ML080350251, ML080350252, ML080350254, and ML080350259), a report from the Licensee dated March 21, 2008 (See ADAMS ML080990026, ML080990027, ML080990034, and ML080990035), a technical memorandum from the Licensee dated May 8, 2008 (See ADAMS ML081280101), and a revised technical memorandum from the Licensee dated May 21, 2008 (See ADAMS ML081490526), all of which are available for public inspection, and can be copied for a fee, at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Public Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland, 20852. The NRC maintains an Agency-wide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS), which provides text and image files of NRC’s public documents. These documents may be accessed through the NRC’s Public Electronic Reading Room on the internet at http://www.nrc.gov. Persons who do not have access to ADAMS or who have problems in accessing the documents located in ADAMS may contact the PDR reference staff at 1–800–397–4209, 301–415–4737 or by e-mail at pdr@nrc.gov. Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 1st day of August, 2008. PO 00000 46339 Frm 00105 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 POSTAL REGULATORY COMMISSION [Docket No. C2008–3; Order No. 92] Complaint of Capital One Services, Inc. Postal Regulatory Commission. Notice. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: The Commission has initiated a case to address allegations of undue discrimination and other issues raised by Capital One Services, Inc. (Capital One) in a formal complaint. The allegations stem from Capital One’s interest in obtaining a rate agreement from the Postal Service on terms that are the same as or similar to those another major mailer has received. Accepting the case will provide an opportunity for review of pertinent issues. DATES: Notices of intervention are due on August 13, 2008. A prehearing conference will be held on August 14, 2008. ADDRESSES: Submit comments electronically via the Commission’s Filing Online system at http:// www.prc.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen L. Sharfman, General Counsel, 202–789–6820 and stephen.sharfman@prc.gov. The Complaint of Capital One Services, Inc. Regarding Discrimination and Other Violations of Law by the United States Postal Service (Complaint) was filed on June 19, 2008. The Complaint asserts several claims concerning Capital One’s unsuccessful attempts to enter into a negotiated service agreement similar to the agreement that the Postal Service recently commenced with Bank of America. In support of the Complaint, Capital One filed the Declaration of Ben Lamm, and correspondence between Capital One and the Postal Service dated May 15, 2008, May 27, 2008, May 30, 2008, and June 4, 2008.1 The Answer of the United States Postal Service (Answer) in response to the Complaint was filed on July 21, SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 1 The May 30, 2008 correspondence includes a copy of a negotiated service agreement proffered by Capital One to the Postal Service. E:\FR\FM\08AUN1.SGM 08AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 154 (Friday, August 8, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 46337-46339]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-18289]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[Docket No.: 40-8905]


Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for 
Site Protection Measures From Surface Water Flow, License Amendment No. 
59; Rio Algom Mining, LLC, Ambrosia Lake, NM--SUA-1473

AGENCY: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Issuance of Environmental Assessment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas McLaughlin, Project Manager, 
Materials Decommissioning Branch, Division of Waste Management and 
Environmental Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials and 
Environmental Management Programs, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC, 20555. Telephone: (301) 415-5869; fax number: (301) 
415-5369; e-mail: tgm@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    By letter dated October 24, 2007, as supplemented on January 31, 
2008, and March 21, 2008, Rio Algom Mining, LLC, (Rio Algom, or the 
Licensee) submitted an application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission (NRC), requesting an amendment to Source Materials License 
SUA-1473 for the Ambrosia Lake Mill Facility, in Ambrosia Lake, New 
Mexico. Rio Algom seeks the approval of its proposed site erosion 
protection measures designed to prevent surface water flow from 
damaging its uranium mill tailings site. The NRC prepared an 
Environmental Assessment (EA) for this proposed action in accordance 
with the requirements of 10 CFR Part 51. Based on the EA, the NRC 
concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is 
appropriate with respect to the proposed action. The amendment would be 
issued following the publication of this FONSI and EA in the Federal 
Register.
    The Licensee has indicated that the proposed site erosion 
protection measures from surface water flow are the final component of 
the overall site reclamation plan. The Licensee previously has 
addressed, and NRC has approved, the remaining site-wide reclamation 
plan elements through separate licensing actions, including the 
original reclamation plan for Tailings Cells 1, 2, and 3 (approved in 
September 1990), mill demolition, relocation of lined evaporation pond 
sediments, soil decommissioning plan, and groundwater remediation. The 
expansion of Tailings Cell 2 was approved by License Amendment No. 58. 
The current licensing action is to protect the Tailing Cells from 
erosion from surface water by constructing a channel to divert water 
flow around them.

II. Environmental Assessment

1.0 Background

    The Ambrosia Lake site is in the Ambrosia Lake Mining District of 
New Mexico, 25 miles north of Grants, New Mexico. Rio Algom began 
processing ore in 1958, and processed approximately 33 million tons of 
ore through 1985. The site continued to be an active uranium production 
facility through December 2002. Site reclamation activities commenced 
in 1989 with some work on the top surface of the largest tailings cell. 
There are three tailings/waste cells situated adjacent to each other at 
the Rio Algom site: The large Tailings Cell 1, Tailings Cell 2 to the 
west of Cell 1, and a small Cell 3 east of Cell 1 that was used to 
dispose of contaminated windblown material. Reclamation of Cell 1 is 
complete, and cover construction of Cells 2 and 3 is still ongoing and 
almost complete. Reclamation activities have at times included unlined 
evaporation pond residue excavation and disposal, contaminated 
windblown soil cleanup, tailings impoundment reclamation, surface water 
erosion protection feature construction, and mill building demolition.
    In meetings and discussions with the Licensee in 2006 and 2007, the 
NRC staff was informed that Rio Algom intended to leave remaining 
contaminants under Ponds 4, 5, and 6 in place in the Arroyo del Puerto 
floodplain. Ponds 4, 5, and 6 were unlined and uranium, radium-226, and 
thorium-230, have been found to extend to 10 feet deep in some areas. 
The top 4 to 5 feet of contaminated soil in these Ponds have been 
removed and the material placed in Tailings Cell 3, then the footprint 
was covered with 1 to 2 feet of clean soil. The staff expressed 
concerns that the remaining contaminates under the Ponds needed to be 
protected from erosion due to

[[Page 46338]]

periodic flooding that occurs in the Arroyo del Puerto. These Ponds 
extend over an area of about 50 acres and must be stabilized and 
protected from erosion. They are located inside the exterior diversion 
berm, but need to be protected from the effects of direct precipitation 
and the resulting overland runoff. RAMC proposes to provide a 3-inch 
thick layer of rock to protect the top slope from erosion. Rio Algom's 
decision to leave this material in place has resulted in significant 
changes to the overall design of the Arroyo del Puerto channel. Major 
revisions included construction of a very large diversion channel and 
significant additions of riprap to protect against erosion and lateral 
migration of the re-aligned channel.
    The re-design and protection of the Arroyo del Puerto channel is 
the last phase of the Ambrosia Lake facility reclamation. The NRC staff 
recently approved License Amendment 58 which finalized the capping of 
the remaining mill tailing waste in Tailings Cell 2. An extensive EA 
was prepared for this licensing action (See ADAMS ML072670278 dated 10/
31/2007) which included the discussion of land use, geology, surface 
and ground water, ecology (flora and fauna), climate, socioeconomic 
impact, historical and cultural resources, public and occupational 
health, and transportation. The scope of the current EA, which 
evaluates the construction of a channel to divert water flow away from 
the three Tailings Cells and Ponds 4, 5, and 6 to protect them from 
erosion, is limited to the construction impacts, as all other impacts 
were previously evaluated in the Tailings Cell 2 expansion EA completed 
in October 2007.

2.0 The Proposed Action

    The proposed action is to amend NRC Source Materials License SUA-
1473 to approve the construction of a channel to divert water flow away 
from the three Tailings Cells and Ponds 4, 5, and 6 to protect them 
from erosion caused by surface water flow. To comply with Criterion 6 
of 10 CFR 40, Appendix A (which requires stability of mill Tailings 
Cells for 1000 years to the extent reasonably achievable and in any 
case for 200 years), the Licensee proposes to significantly modify the 
alignment of the original channel by constructing a new channel and 
berm on the east side of Ponds 4, 5, and 6. The overall design includes 
construction of: (1) A new exterior diversion channel and berm; (2) a 
new interior drainage channel; (3) modified riprap protection for mill 
Tailing Cell 3; and (4) additional riprap protection for Ponds 4, 5, 
and 6. Each of these design features requires rock riprap erosion 
protection to assure long-term stability.

3.0 Need for the Proposed Action

    The need for the proposed action is to address NRC concerns about 
the potential periodic flood conditions of the original channel due to 
heavy rains, and the long-term stability for the three mill Tailings 
Cells, and for protection of Ponds 4, 5, and 6. Periodic heavy rains 
have the potential to wash away the covered uranium mill waste in the 
three Tailings Cells and under Ponds 4, 5 and 6, and carry the uranium 
waste outside the property boundary of the Licensee. The purpose of the 
re-designed channel is to divert any flood water away from the three 
Tailings Cells and Ponds 4, 5 and 6. This EA fulfills the NRC's 
responsibilities under the Atomic Energy Act to make a decision on a 
proposed license amendment in a manner that ensures protection of the 
environment.

4.0 The Environmental Impacts of the Proposed Action

    The potential direct impacts of the proposed action are short-term 
impacts from construction. Long-term and indirect impacts are 
considered as part of the previously cited analysis. The direct impacts 
from construction activities primarily would be dust generation due to 
excavating material to form the channel, noise generated by 
construction equipment, and water surface runoff. Fugitive dust from 
heavy equipment operation would be mitigated through the use of dust 
suppression methods on haul roads. Noise suppression devices will be 
worn by workers when necessary. The Licensee's implementation of its 
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, its 
Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan for the site, its site Health, 
Safety and Environment Management System, and NRC license requirements 
would provide adequate assurances to avoid adverse impacts to the 
environment. Additional ambient air monitoring stations have been 
installed to collect data from the dust produced during the work 
activity to demonstrate that control measures would be implemented and 
effective. These high volume air sampling stations measure the amount 
of natural Uranium, Th-230, Ra-226, and Pb-210, and the concentrations 
are compared to the limits described in License Condition No. 10. 
Potential impacts at the tailings cell area would be small since the 
area is already disturbed from site reclamation activities and the 
associated impacts were previously evaluated.
    The staff evaluated the potential impacts associated with the 
Licensee's proposed construction of a channel to divert water from the 
three mill Tailings Cells and Ponds 4, 5, and 6. The staff finds that 
the mill tailings waste contained in the three Tailings Cells, and the 
contaminants in Ponds 4, 5, and 6 would be adequately protected from 
the effects of erosion that can be caused by the periodic flooding of 
the Arroyo del Puerto.
    The Licensee prepared a technical memorandum to respond to New 
Mexico Department of Environmental Quality (NMDEQ) comments about the 
disruption or elimination of monitoring wells during the construction 
of the channel. The technical memorandum stated that no monitoring 
wells would be abandoned or replaced as the result of the construction 
of the new diversion channel. However, there are five wells within the 
area of construction that would have changes in their final surface 
elevations from construction activities.
    The NMDEQ and NRC staff also had concerns about the potential for 
surface water infiltration. The Licensee prepared a second technical 
memorandum to respond to the question of surface water infiltration and 
the potential for ground water recharge to the alluvial system beneath 
the channel from surface water flow. After reviewing the Licensee's 
response in their second technical memorandum, NRC staff concluded that 
Rio Algom adequately explained that the infiltration potential within 
the Ambrosia Lake Mill site would be small. The following are the most 
significant points stated by the Licensee that supports its conclusion 
that infiltration (recharge to the water table) is small:
     The drainage area for the Interior Drainage Channel is 
limited (less than a square mile--440 acres), thus, the surface runoff 
amounts would be small.
     The soils in the vicinity of the Arroyo del Puerto at the 
Ambrosia Mill site are greater than 30 feet deep, and are composed of 
fine sandy silt to silty fine sand. Because of their fine texture and 
low permeability, they would retain more soil moisture than coarser 
textured soils. As a result, the evapotranspiration process would 
remove much of the soil moisture before it reaches the water table.

The evaporation rate for this site (54 inches/year) is greater (more 
than 6 times) than the annual precipitation (8.83 inches/year).

[[Page 46339]]

5.0 Alternatives to the Proposed Action

    The staff considered denial of Rio Algom's request (i.e., the no 
action alternative) as the only reasonable alternative to the proposed 
action. Denial of the Licensee's request would result in no protection 
from the spreading of contaminants from the capped mill tailing cells 
or the contaminants in Ponds 4, 5, and 6 from potential flooding in the 
Arroyo del Puerto floodplain.

6.0 Agencies and Persons Consulted

    This EA was prepared by the NRC staff, and coordinated with the 
NMDEQ. NRC staff provided a draft of its EA to NMDEQ for review. NMDEQ 
had multiple comments on the Draft EA and the overall design of the 
proposed channel. Several discussions were held with the staff of NMDEQ 
and their comments were incorporated into the Draft EA and the 
technical evaluation report which would accompany the license 
amendment.
    A cultural resource survey was conducted on the archeological site 
discovered during the site inspection, and concluded that no cultural 
resource sites are present, and that the area is ineligible for 
inclusion in the National Register. Rio Algom sent a letter to the 
State of New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA), Historic 
Preservation Division (HPD), notifying them of the archeological site 
and the redesign of the channel and 1000-year (flood control) berm to 
avoid disturbing the area. The NRC staff contacted the NMDCA, HPD, 
which stated that the site was eligible for inclusion in the National 
Register, but concurred with the proposed realignment of the channel 
project to avoid the archeological site, and stated that, as long as 
the site is avoided, the project would not affect historic properties. 
The NRC staff has determined that no further consultation would be 
required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
    The NRC staff has determined that the proposed action would not 
affect any federally- or state-listed (threatened and endangered) 
species or their critical habitat. Therefore, no further consultation 
would be required under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The 
NRC staff advised the Licensee to contact the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers (USACE) to inquire if this project would require a Section 
404 (Clean Water Act) permit. The NRC staff contacted the USACE about 
the Section 404 permit and they requested that NRC send the technical 
memoranda from the licensee, the concurrence from NMDCA, HPD on the 
proposed channel design, and the Federal Register Notice (FRN) with the 
EA (See ADAMS ML081890038). The NRC staff sent the technical 
memorandums and concurrence from NMDCA, HPD to the USACE and will send 
the FRN when it is finalized. The USACE will then decide if a Section 
404 permit is required.

7.0 Conclusion

    The NRC staff prepared this EA in support of the proposed action. 
Based on the analysis contained in this EA, the staff concluded that 
there are no environmental impacts from the proposed action, and that 
the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement is not warranted. 
Accordingly, the NRC determined that a Finding of No Significant Impact 
is appropriate.

III. Further Information

    For further details with respect to the proposed action, see the 
Licensee's letter and report dated October 24, 2007 (See ADAMS 
ML073060379, ML073060380, ML073060381, ML073060382, and ML073060383), a 
report from the Licensee dated January 31, 2008 (See ADAMS ML080350250, 
ML080350251, ML080350252, ML080350254, and ML080350259), a report from 
the Licensee dated March 21, 2008 (See ADAMS ML080990026, ML080990027, 
ML080990034, and ML080990035), a technical memorandum from the Licensee 
dated May 8, 2008 (See ADAMS ML081280101), and a revised technical 
memorandum from the Licensee dated May 21, 2008 (See ADAMS 
ML081490526), all of which are available for public inspection, and can 
be copied for a fee, at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Public 
Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville 
Pike (first floor), Rockville, Maryland, 20852. The NRC maintains an 
Agency-wide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS), which 
provides text and image files of NRC's public documents. These 
documents may be accessed through the NRC's Public Electronic Reading 
Room on the internet at http://www.nrc.gov.
    Persons who do not have access to ADAMS or who have problems in 
accessing the documents located in ADAMS may contact the PDR reference 
staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737 or by e-mail at pdr@nrc.gov.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 1st day of August, 2008.

    For The Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Rebecca Tadesse,
Acting Deputy Director, Decommissioning and Uranium Recovery, Licensing 
Directorate, Division of Waste Management, and Environmental 
Protection, Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental 
Management Programs.
[FR Doc. E8-18289 Filed 8-7-08; 8:45 am]
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