Control of 2 Wyoming uranium mines given to Russia
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves transfer of recovery licenses
by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission media release
Original post November 29, 2010 | Updated November 30, 2010 and December 1, 2010
WASHINGTON D.C. (November 24, 2010) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of control of two uranium recovery licenses in Wyoming from Uranium One, a Canadian firm, to JSC Atomoredzoloto (ARMZ), a Russian firm.
The transfer affects a license held by Uranium One USA for the Irigaray and Christensen Ranch in situ leach uranium recovery facility in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. It also affects a license granted Sept. 30 by the NRC to Uranium One Americas for the proposed Moore Ranch in situ leach recovery project in Campbell County, Wyo., as well as a materials license held by Uranium One Americas authorizing the use of tritium sealed sources for well logging. Two additional uranium recovery license applications by Uranium One Americas – for the Jab & Antelope and the Ludeman projects – are currently under review.
Uranium One USA and Uranium One Americas are U.S.-based subsidiaries of Uranium One, Inc., a Canadian firm. Earlier this year, Uranium One agreed to a merger with ARMZ, under which the Russian firm would gain majority control of the Canadian company. ARMZ is controlled by Rosatom, the Russian Federation’s state nuclear agency.
NRC’s review of the transfer of control request determined that the U.S. subsidiaries will remain the licensees, will remain qualified to conduct the uranium recovery operations, and will continue to have the equipment, facilities, and procedures necessary to protect public health and safety and to minimize danger to life or property. The review also determined that the licensees will maintain adequate financial surety for eventual decommissioning of the sites. Neither Uranium One nor ARMZ holds an NRC export license, so no uranium produced at either facility may be exported.
The NRC published a notice of opportunity to request an adjudicatory hearing and an opportunity for public comment on Sept. 20 for the uranium recovery licenses. No hearing requests were filed. Four public comments were received; however, none of them addressed the regulatory requirements for reviewing a transfer of control.
The NRC’s Safety Evaluation Report, Order and license amendments on the transfer of control, including discussion of the public comments, are available in the agency’s online ADAMS document library at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams/web-based.html by entering accession number ML103120147.
12/1/10 Update: Comment from U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo) about the above story: "The Administration must maintain rigorous oversight of this project and ensure this transaction does not undercut America's national or energy security."
11/30/10 Update: Comment from U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) regarding the above story: "I will be monitoring this situation closely and see to it that Wyoming’s uranium stays in America. It’s important to note that as countries like China and Russia are working hard to shore up their long-term supply of uranium, the Obama administration wrings its hands and does nothing to build domestic uranium reserves for the benefit of all Americans. In the 112th Congress, I look forward to addressing this issue."