EPA awards $220 million in uranium mine cleanup contracts

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded three contracts for cleanup efforts at more than 50 abandoned uranium mine sites in and around the Navajo Nation in the southwestern United States. The Navaho Area Abandoned Mine Remedial Construction and Services Contracts, worth up to $220 million over the next five years, were awarded to the Red Rock Remediation Joint Venture, Environmental Quality Management, and Arrowhead Contracting, the agency announced on February 11.

According to the EPA, the cleanup work is slated to begin later this year, following the completion of assessments in coordination with the Navajo Nation EPA, the tribe’s environmental agency. The sites are in New Mexico’s Grants Mining District and 10 Navajo Nation chapters. The companies selected have experience working on hazardous waste sites across the country, including cleaning up other abandoned mine sites in the Southwest, the EPA said.

Renewable technologies can’t escape the issue of waste management

A recent article from Deseret News looks at the stark reality of hazardous waste piling up from the green energy revolution. The lengthy article, "The dark side of ‘green energy’ and its threat to the nation’s environment," was written by News reporter Amy Joi O’Donoghue and is based on an Environmental Protection Agency briefing from the Trump administration. The briefing, issued in January, outlines the difficulties the United States will face in recycling and safely disposing of the materials used for green energy technologies.

Green energy’s looming waste problem: While the current fervor around the globe is to decarbonize as quickly as possible using wind and solar, the energy industry has yet to fully tackle the long-term waste stream for these systems. Many supporters think that renewable energy equals no waste, when in reality all energy-producing technologies produce waste that should be managed responsibly. That includes solar panels and wind turbines, which have their own environmental hazards such as toxic metals, oil, fiberglass, and other materials. Andrew Wheeler, EPA administrator at the time, said, “Without a strategy for their end-of-life management, so-called green technologies like solar panels, electric vehicle batteries, and windmills will ultimately place [an] unintended burden on our planet and economy.”

Biden taps Janet McCabe to serve as deputy at EPA

McCabe

The incoming Biden administration plans to appoint Janet McCabe to serve as deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, The Hill reported early Friday.

McCabe previously served as the acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the EPA for much of the Obama administration.

EPA issues permits for Dewey Burdock project

The Dewey Burdock project area, near Edgemont, S.D., in 2014. Photo: Azarga Uranium

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued its final permits for Canada-based Azarga Uranium’s underground injection control (UIC) activities at the Dewey Burdock in situ recovery (ISR) uranium project in South Dakota, the company announced recently.

The EPA’s action includes two permits: a UIC Class III Area Permit for the ISR of uranium and a UIC Class V Area Permit for deep injection wells that will be used to dispose of ISR-process waste fluids after they have been treated to meet radioactive waste and hazardous waste standards.

The EPA is also finalizing an aquifer exemption approval in connection with the Class III permit to allow for resource recovery in the uranium-bearing portions of the Inyan Kara group of aquifers.

Uranium mining settlement could fund new cleanup industry

The Santa Fe New Mexican, in its October 24 edition, reported on a study by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research that found that the state could use money from a nearly $1- billion federal mining settlement to create a new industry around the cleanup of abandoned uranium mines in the Southwest.

Agencies sign MOU to strengthen U.S. uranium mining industry

Kristine Svinicki, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, have signed a memorandum of understanding to improve coordination and cooperation in the regulation of the in situ recovery (ISR) process of uranium extraction and to support the goal of establishing a stronger U.S. uranium mining industry.

Unintended Anti-Nuclear Consequences Lurking in the EPA Clean Power Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan has gained favor with some nuclear energy advocates. An extensive analysis of the proposal, however, reveals that current nuclear generating capacity would largely suffer under the new carbon rules. In fact, the results of an evaluation performed by my fellow graduate student Justin Knowles and myself show that 15 states are actually incentivized to shut down all of their nuclear units and replace them with natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) generation. In effect, this plan allows for increasing carbon emissions; a far cry from the stated goals of the Clean Power Plan.

New EPA Guidelines for Response to Radioactivity Releases

DC Perspective

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just released a draft Protective Action Guideline (PAG) that sets standards and makes recommendations for the response to a large release of radioactive material into the environment (e.g., from a nuclear plant accident or a dirty bomb attack, etc.). The draft report is now out for public comments (which are due by July 15).