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URANIUM MILL TAILINGS CONTROL ACT OF 1978

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2, 1978

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND POWER,
COMMITTEE ON INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE,

Washington, DC The subcommittee met at 9:45 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 2318, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John D. Dingell, chairman, presiding.

Mr. DINGELL. The subcommittee will come to order.

This morning we begin the third day of hearings on the milltailings control legislation, H.R. 12535, H.R. 13382, and related bills.

These proposals were submitted to Congress by the Energy Department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission late in this session of the 95th Congress. Although the time is short in which the Congress may consider them, I believe it important that we try to do so.

I want to stress, however, that I have important reservations as to the wisdom of providing huge grants for remedial action without also including regulatory controls to prevent the need for such grants in the future.

I note that, last week, Congressman Udall introduced a bill, H.R. 13650, which joins these proposals in one piece of legislation which was also referred to this committee. We plan a markup on that bill next week, August 9 and 10.

I also want to make it clear that the only justification, in my judgment, for grants for remedial action is that the Federal Government purchased most, if not all, of the uranium under contract years ago. I cannot support Federal funding to clean up sites where there was little or no prior Federal involvement. Nor do I subscribe to the theory that this is entirely a Federal responsibility.

The States and local communities benefited from the Federal contracts. They will benefit from the cleanup program, as noted by the Department of Energy estimates in increased land values expected after the cleanup. The States should, therefore, share in the remedial action costs. I believe the 75/25-percent sharing proposal of the administration is sound and, most importantly, would not set an undesirable precedent in the case of other waste disposal or environmental problems.

I believe it essential that any such bill deal with the problem of controlling these tailings at active millsites. H.R. 13382 will do so, although I am concerned about certain aspects of it as well. It makes no sense to me to rush enactment of a bill to deal with inactive sites and not, at the same time, take the steps necessary to

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prevent the problems from occurring again in the future. In short, I view both bills as parts of one package.

I believe the bill needs further clarification concerning the role of the Environmental Protection Agency in this area. The EPA now has responsibilities relative to uranium milltailings under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, which is under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Commerce, chaired by Congressman Rooney. It is not clear how this bill would affect the EPA responsibilities, especially in regard to the nonradiological aspects of the problem, nor is it clear what EPA has done under that law.

The hearing today is intended to look into the regulatory side of these matters.

The Chair does observe that we have coming up, I think shortly, in the full committee legislation relating to pipeline safety, which originates in this subcommittee, at which time it will be necessary for me to excuse myself and go downstairs to handle that legislation, and then I will return as quickly thereafter as I possibly can. I apologize in advance to those who are witnesses who might be inconvenienced by this matter. At this point, I insert the following correspondence.

[Testimony resumes on p. 341.)
The following was received for the record:)

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Please provide a table showing at each of the inactive sites where tailings exist, the name of the contractor that provided processed uranium to the United States, the dates the mill was in operation and if the contract with the United States was for a lesser period, state the contract dates, and state what part of the entire production was purchased under contract by the United States during this period.

Answer:

The attached table provides the information requested to the extent it is available at this time. Information on private sales was not available. If further information on this subject can be obtained, it will be supplied as soon as it is available. However, before 1966 there was very little private demand for uranium, and the U.S. Government purchased nearly all the uranium produced. of the inactive mills only the Amax Uranium Co. mill in Grand Junction and the Susquehanna Wester, Inc., mill in Falls City, Texas, continued to process ore for any sustantial period after their Government contracts ended. The Union Carbide Corporation mill at Rifle, Colorado, was used largely to dry and package uranium and vanadium concentrates produced in the company's mill at Uravan, Colorado, during the last few years of its operation, and processed relatively little uranium ore in that period.

From 1943 through early 1971 when all procurement ceased, the U.S.
Government purchased 175,800 tons of U2°8

in concentrates from domestic sources. Pre 1971 total private sales of domestic producers was 23,600 tons of Uzog, of which 19,200 tons were delivered in the 1966-1970 period. Most of this production was from mills which are still in operation.

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During our earlier hearings, we asked for copies of these contracts. We have not received them. Please provide them. Also please indicate how many were fixed price contracts.

Answer:

Copies of most of the contracts between the United States and uranium ore processing companies have not been retained. We have located several of the contract files and are providing these to you for your review. All of the contracts were fixed price contracts. However, before March 31, 1962, the price under each contract was arrived at by negotiation. It was based on an ore value determined on the basis of AEC's published price for ore, cost of ore processing, plant amortization and a prof it. In none of these contracts was stabilization of the tailings piles after cessation of operations recognized as a cost factor. After March 31, 1962, contract extensions provided for purchases at a flat price of $8 per pound of uzog in concentrates. In 1969 and 1970 prices were based on a formula applied to production cost for the years 1963-1968 based on audited mining and milling costs. The fixed price per pound of Uzog in concentrate was 85 per cent of the allowable production cost per pound plus $1.60, subject to a maximum price of $6.70 per pound.

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(a)

On page 3 of your testimony you state that the DOE is evaluating
"additional sites" which "Were released from Federal control in
the period 1943 to 1970." Please provide a list of all known
mill tailing sites located in the United States (other than the
22 studied by DOE), including any under the control of the DOE,
and state whether active or inactive, the indentity of the entity
now owning or controlling the site.

(b) Why are the Monticello, Utah, site, owned by DOE and the Edgemont,

South Dakota, site owned by TVA not covered by the bill?

Answer:

(a)

Attached is the requested list of all known mill tailings sites
located in the United States.

(b)

The tailings site at Monticello, Utah, owned by DOE has been
stabilized, and the mill has been taken down. This site and the
one at Edgemont, South Dakota, owned by TVA are not covered by
the bill because DOE does not consider it appropriate for the
states to be required to share in the cost of cleanup of
Federally owned property.

URANIUM MILL TAILINGS

The following tabulation was developed to show the following:

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