Black boxes cover wellheads at the Christensen Ranch in-situ uranium mine near the Pumpkin Buttes in the southern Powder River Basin. This in-situ site is similar to what Cameco proposes for the Gas Hills. (Photo by Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile – http://wyofile.com)
(Lander, Wyo.) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lander Field Office today announced the release of a comprehensive analysis of the proposed Gas Hills In Situ Recovery Uranium Project straddling the Fremont and Natrona County line. A notice of availability was published in the Federal Register today (November 1, 2013), announcing the availability of the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for public review.
According to a letter accompanying the final report, the EIS is not a decision document. “The publication of the Notice of Availability … initiated a 30-day waiting period. Following conclusion of that period, BLM will prepare and sign the Record of Decision to disclose the BLM’s final decision.”
Power Resources Inc., doing business as Cameco Resources, proposes to develop uranium deposits using in situ recovery techniques in the Gas Hills Mining District, located approximately 45 miles east of Riverton in Fremont and Natrona counties. The BLM developed the final EIS to provide a comprehensive analysis of potential impacts that could result from project development. The final EIS and the comments that were received from the public and cooperating agencies throughout the analysis process will assist the BLM in its decision-making process before issuing a record of decision in December 2013.
The permitted area for the proposed project includes about 8,500 acres of rugged terrain where conventional uranium mining and milling activities were previously conducted. Approximately 94 percent of the Gas Hills Project Area is on BLM-administered public lands. About 2 percent is on state lands and the remainder is on private land. About 15 percent of the surface area, approximately 1,300 acres, would be disturbed by the development.
“Under the proposed action, Cameco proposes the development of uranium deposits … through implementation of an InSitu Recovery Process, which involves recoveryof uranium from the subsurface through chemical dissolution using wells constructed in a manner similar to conventional water wells. The process required the installation of surface infrastructure (processing facilities, waste water disposal facilities, roads, header house, and power lines) as well as subsurface infrastructure (wells, pipelines, electrical lines and communication cables). Maximum new surface disturbance under the Proposed Action wold be approximately 1,315 acres, or 15 percent” of the permitted area, the letter states.
“The BLM Preferred Alternative would be similar the Proposed Action,” according to the document. “In that it would involve ISR development of uranium deposits (in the permitted area); however, the BPA would include several added features to reduce surface disturbance as well as increase and enhance reclamation success for the project.”
The final EIS is available for review on the project website at www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/