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Uranium Working Group (UWG) Public Meeting Science Museum of Virginia November 27, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Uranium Working Group (UWG) Public Meeting Science Museum of Virginia November 27, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Uranium Working Group (UWG) Public Meeting Science Museum of Virginia November 27, 2012

2 Presentation Overview UWG overview Review of assigned tasks from the Governor’s Directive Worker health and safety Emergency preparedness and response plan Financial assurance instruments Update on socioeconomic study Presentation summary

3 Uranium Working Group (UWG) On January 19, 2012 Governor McDonnell created the UWG consisting of staff from the DMME, DEQ and VDH. The UWG’s role is fact finding to support informed decision making, NOT to make a recommendation on the moratorium. The Governor provided the UWG with 18 tasks to complete and to report their findings to the Governor by December 1, 2012.

4 Governor’s Directive Determine the measures necessary to proactively protect worker health and safety, including monitoring for occupational impacts. Establish the process by which all three agencies would adopt a unified emergency preparedness and response plan. Develop a comprehensive financial assurance program for uranium mining and milling.

5 Worker Health and Safety The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) currently regulates the occupational health and safety of all mine and mill workers. DMME currently regulates the safety of mineral mine workers in the Commonwealth. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or the Agreement State (VDH) regulates mill worker radiation exposure.

6 Issues: Radiation Silica and other airborne contaminants Diesel fumes Noise Worker Health and Safety

7 MSHA Radiation Standards: Existing federal regulations address radiation exposure to underground miners. Requirements include: ◦ Radon daughter concentrations must be determined every two weeks; ◦ Radon daughter concentration shall not exceed 4 working level months per year; and ◦ Annual exposure limit of 5 rem. Worker Health and Safety

8 NRC Radiation Standards: Existing federal regulations address radiation exposure limits that apply to all licensees: ◦ Maintain doses “as low as is reasonably achievable” (ALARA); ◦ Limit total effective dose equivalent received to 5 rem per year; and ◦ Limit exposure to 25 mrem per year after closure. Worker Health and Safety

9 NRC Radiation Standards (cont’d): Tracking worker doses is required if the annual dose is likely to exceed 10% of the annual dose limit of 5 rem. A dose report is provided to the worker and must be available for review during an inspection. Individual doses exceeding 5 rem must be reported to the NRC or the Agreement state. Worker Health and Safety

10 MSHA Airborne Contaminant Standards: Require that exposure to any contaminant not exceed established threshold limit values for chemical substances. Require engineering controls to limit exposures and under certain circumstances allow the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Worker Health and Safety

11 MSHA Standards: Address Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) for underground miners, including exposure limits and requirements for PPE, fuel, maintenance, engines, miner training, exposure monitoring, and recordkeeping. Worker Health and Safety

12 MSHA Noise Standards: Occupational Noise Exposure limits apply to all mining and milling activities. Permissible exposure level of 90 dBA with an action level of 85 dBA for an 8-hour Time Weighted Average. Miners whose exposure exceeds the action level must be enrolled in a Hearing Conservation Program and must have annual audiograms. Worker Health and Safety

13 DMME Safety Standards: DMME regulates miner safety in the Commonwealth, and DMME regulations parallel the existing MSHA standards. By statute, DMME does not inspect surface mines for mine safety where MSHA inspections take place. DMME inspects all underground mines for mine safety, regardless of MSHA inspection status. Worker Health and Safety

14 The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) is the lead coordinating agency for the state’s response to large-scale emergencies. DMME is responsible for the oversight of emergency response at a mining facility and would utilize its existing protocols at uranium mines if the moratorium were lifted. VDH is the state radiation control agency, and is responsible for coordinating response plans with VDEM and responding to radiation emergencies. Emergency Response

15 Without amending the Agreement, the NRC would remain the lead agency for potential incidents at any mill licensed in the Commonwealth. With an amended Agreement, VDH would be the lead agency for potential incidents at a mill. Under current federal regulations, as part of the permit/license application, the applicant must include procedures for all types of incidents that may occur at the mine or mill and during transportation. These procedures would be reviewed and approved by the appropriate regulatory authority. Emergency Response

16 Uranium mining and milling have many unique features and issues, and a new financial assurance program should be considered if the moratorium is lifted. A financial assurance program should be established that will minimize the financial risk to the citizens of the Commonwealth. Financial Assurance

17 A strong financial assurance program is critical to any proposed statutory and regulatory framework created for the mining of uranium in order to protect the public from financial obligations for actions or inactions resulting from the operation. Such a program must take into consideration the complete life cycle of the mining from exploration through reclamation and closure of the mine. Financial assurances should be provided by the operator before a permit is issued. Financial Assurance

18 Financial assurance should cover all potential costs. These costs should: Address the full mine and/or mill life cycle; Cover all monitoring costs through post-closure site monitoring; Be based on having a third party contractor perform all necessary work; Be reviewed frequently to ensure that adequate funding is available, and Be available for public review and comment. Financial Assurance

19 Key components of a financial assurance program: A performance or reclamation bond Liability insurance An emergency response fund Long-term environmental monitoring fund or trust Financial Assurance - Mine

20 Criteria for performance bonds: A financial assurance instrument readily convertible into cash The operator’s personal property or equipment should not be used for assurance. Funds should be readily accessible, payable only to the regulatory authority. DMME should have statutory authority to receive forfeited financial assurance instruments and to use them for reclamation. Potential financial assurance providers should be pre-screened for financial capacity. Financial Assurance - Mine

21 Criteria for performance bonds: The public should be given notice and an opportunity to comment prior to accepting the initial financial assurance instruments. The financial assurance instrument should not be used to release the operator from its responsibilities. The financial assurance instrument acts as a guarantee to pay for the cost of reclamation should the operator default. Financial Assurance - Mine

22 Acceptable instruments for performance bonds: Irrevocable letters of credit, Surety bonds, Cash deposits, Negotiable bonds, Certificates of deposit Financial Assurance - Mine

23 Liability insurance should cover: Release or threatened release of contaminants from the operation Cost of inspections and investigations incurred by the Commonwealth Restoration of natural resources Reimbursement for loss of natural resources Costs due to personal injury/illness caused by the operation All damages to property caused by a release Financial Assurance - Mine

24 Liability insurance requirements: The operator should be required to provide a certificate issued by an insurance company authorized to do business in the Commonwealth. Certification that the applicant has a public liability insurance policy in force prior to issuance of anew permit or at permit renewal until such time as the permit is terminated should be a condition that must be met before a permit is issued. The amount of the liability policy should be based either on a risk analysis protocol required as part of the permitting process, or on a fixed amount established by statute. Financial Assurance - Mine

25 Liability insurance requirements: The liability policy should be reviewed annually to determine if adjustments in the policy coverage are necessary. Both the performance bond and liability insurance instruments should be in place prior to the commencement of operations. Financial Assurance - Mine

26 Emergency Response Fund and Long-Term Monitoring Fund: Two additional funds should be considered in a financial assurance program to protect the public from incurring financial obligations associated with: ◦ Emergency response expenses, and ◦ Long-term monitoring costs. Costs not covered by the performance bond or liability insurance instruments will require readily accessible funds. Financial Assurance - Mine

27 Emergency Response Fund and Long-Term Monitoring Fund: The initial funding source for each fund could be established through a surety bond submitted by the operator in an amount determined by law. The surety bonds could be replaced by a fee or tax levied on the mined material (all mined rock, waste, ore, overburden, etc.) These funds would be available to DMME/DEQ: ◦ To finance the cost of mitigation for unanticipated events, and ◦ To provide long-term monitoring after mine closure and release of the performance bond. Financial Assurance - Mine

28 NRC regulations require: Sufficient financial assurance be established prior to commencement of operations; Funds be sufficient for: ◦ Decontamination and decommissioning of the milling site to levels which allow unrestricted use, and ◦ The reclamation of tailings and/or waste areas. Financial Assurance - Mill

29 NRC regulations (con’t): A minimum charge of $250,000 (1978 dollars, currently about $900,000) be paid prior to termination of the mill license to accommodate long-term monitoring costs; A financial assurance plan be submitted with the environmental report; and The financial assurance plan be made available for public review. Financial Assurance - Mill

30 If Virginia requests an amendment to the agreement with the NRC and is approved to regulate uranium milling: o Financial assurance requirements would need to be included in the current VDH radiation protection regulations. o The Commonwealth would need to require that the regulatory authority is listed as the third party on the Financial Assurance instrument to ensure access in case of insolvency. o All Financial Assurance instruments should be reviewed and approved by the VDH and the Office of the Attorney General. Financial Assurance - Mill

31 UWG is engaging in a socioeconomic study to: o Assist in understanding potential business impacts created by uranium mining and milling. o Gauge perception regarding a positive or a negative influence on economic development opportunities. Socioeconomic Study

32 The study is comprised of three components: ◦ A survey of Virginia Business Leaders. ◦ A related survey of Site Location Consultants. ◦ An Economic Impact Analysis incorporating the results of the two surveys. Socioeconomic Study

33 Survey questions address: ◦ Awareness of uranium deposits and the existing moratorium. ◦ Perceptions of Virginia as a place to conduct business. ◦ Perceptions of client attitudes to use Virginia businesses and products. ◦ Positive or negative impacts on agriculture, tourism, education, businesses relocation, the housing market, etc. Socioeconomic Study

34 The report will include the tabulation and analysis of each survey question, demographics, geographic distribution and any other appropriate parameters. The report will include key findings and recommendations based on the responses to the surveys. Socioeconomic Study

35 MSHA would be responsible for overseeing the safety and health of mine and mill workers under 30 CFR. DMME statutory authority would be necessary to provide a comprehensive radiological protection plan for all mine workers as part of the mine permitting process if the moratorium is lifted. Radiation protection requirements exist under current NRC and VDH regulations. Presentation Summary

36 Under current federal regulations, an applicant is required to submit its emergency response plans to the licensing agencies for review and approval. DMME, VDH and VDEM have emergency response contingencies in place. Financial assurance is the responsibility of the applicant and would have to be approved by the regulating agencies before a permit is issued (mine) or before operations commence (mill). The amount of financial assurance must be adequate for third party reclamation and restitution. Presentation Summary

37 The UWG will complete its final report and submit it to the Governor on December 1 st. The report will be presented to the Uranium Subcommittee of the Coal and Energy Commission in mid-December. Presentation Summary

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