Permits Required to Open a Uranium Mill
A uranium mill is a facility which takes ore containing uranium, and by a series of physical and chemical unit operations produces uranium oxide, commonly called yellowcake. The process also produces a waste product known as tailings. The tailings consist of essentially everything that was in the ore initially, except the uranium. No one can build and operate such a facility without first obtaining a variety of permits and approvals from a variety of regulatory agencies. This paper is designed to discuss the types of permits which are required, the processes for obtaining the key permits, and some of the current problems in the general permitting or licensing process. The processes discussed will apply only to today's conventional mill. It will not be applicable to “in-situ” operations (primarily because this is a subject in which the general rules are not defined. Further, the rules are subject to considerable change in the near future.)
A discussion of the permits required to construct and operate a uranium mill, is, by definition, a site-specific discussion. In general, no two mills will require the same set of approvals or licenses. However, there are certain distinct similarities. The intent here is to highlight these similarities, and generally to ignore the differences.
For purposes of discussion, we will assume that a mill is to be located in a state s
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