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(1) "New" indicates mill operations initiated in last year. (2) TVA mill at Edgemont, South Dakota inactive.
Note: (1) Chevron mill in Texas licensed, now under construction.
(2) "New" indicates mill initiated operations in the last year.
Ranchers Exploration at Naturita, Colorado (1 million tons of tailings).
Mr. DINGELL. As regards existing facilities and perhaps as regards some of your inactive tailings piles and possibly as regards future action.
Now, I do note that title II, H.R. 13650, requires, at page 19, that the operator ultimately do obtain title to the site where he does his disposal with ultimate turnover of the land to the United States. Now I am curious. this would solve the problem perhaps as regards the future, but as regards the past, it probably won't.
Mr. HENDRIE. There clearly is an opportunity for some trouble with regard to the present sites.
Mr. DINGELL. We do not give condemnation powers here. I don't know whether you have condemnation powers under the Atomic Energy Act.
Mr. HENDRIE. I don't believe so.
Mr. DINGELL. In those instances we either have to have some form of controlling land use, buying an easement, putting some kind of notice in the land title, or subjecting the landowner's interest to some kind of a constraint, Federal or State in character. I am not sure how we attack this.
Mr. HENDRIE. I am not quite sure either, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DINGELL. If you could give us some counsel, I think it would be helpful.
Mr. HENDRIE. Let us think about it and see how fast we can come back to you with some recommendations.
Mr. DINGELL. Thank you.
Mr. FINNEGAN. In the case of the Federal ownership provision here of these sites, are you not inviting a situation where the Federal Government will ultimately end up with a number of sites scattered around the countryside that may be very difficult in the future to manage? It is not like the Interior Departments management of the public lands where they have a large parcel of land which they can manage fairly effectively. Here you are talking about a site of perhaps a few acres scattered in different parts. How does a particular agency really manage this thing successfully in Federal ownership?
The bill requires Federal ownership, I might point out. NRC said Federal or State. The State might have a better chance of controlling sites, both inactive and active, but what happens if the State, for budgetary reasons, runs out of money in a particular year and decides they have higher priorities? How do they manage?
Mr. HENDRIE. For ownership both in the Federal and State cause, the legislation, at least as we have proposed it in our supplementary material, would retain for NRC a monitoring authority and allow us to go take a look at the sites and see periodically-we would probably make it an annual inspection and see that they had not been disturbed and note any actions we felt should be taken to maintain them in good condition, and then we would notify the States or the Federal agency that owned the site and say here is what you should do about this site and impress upon them, in effect, the civil powers that the Commission has.
Mr. FINNEGAN. You have to remember here we are talking about sites that are going to be in existence for a long time down the future and priorities with even NRC and others, and the question I am raising is, isn't a good solution to this the one that the chairman raised of requiring a recording on the local record as to that particular site so anybody who tries to purchase that land or do anything with it later on is on notice that site has dangerous material, hazardous material, or whatever, and he is in deep trouble if he starts to use it?
Mr. HENDRIE. I can certainly see no objection to such a provision, Mr. Finnegan. It is, in effect, a reinforcing of the attempt to assure that down through time, at least as long as we have a coherent civilization, there are records that say, now be careful with that site, don't just go and do any old thing with it. I can see no objection to that.
Mr. FINNEGAN. The problem of your enforcement later on if the mill operator has gone away, the fact that you inspect it and find something wrong, your license isn't going to help much because you have nothing to enforce it against.
Mr. HENDRIE. Right.
Mr. Rowe. The problem you have brought up, the long-term problem of institutional control is just the one I think we are trying to address in the long range in final standards. We realize institutional controls only have finite lives. We should use whatever ones we have to help us, whether it be ownership or easements, but in the long term we can't depend on these, and this is, I think, the direction the long-term milltailing standards should ad
dress to assure that the solutions we have do not depend on institutional controls indefinitely.
Mr. FINNEGAN. That is good, of course, but we are talking about even in the inactive sites of something happening immediately, and you still have that same kind of institute problem.
Mr. Rowe. Yes, sir, for the remedial actions a number of the methods that DOE tends to use include removing the piles and putting these perhaps in some cases back in the mines or other depressions which would result in solutions which might stand up without institutional controls. This is why we think it so important that the results of these remedial actions be used as we go forward.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Dr. Hendrie, in the amendment suggested by NRC and also in the bill, you would amend section 161 of the Atomic Energy Act, which provided for rules by NRC to assure funds are available by the licensee for decommissioning, et cetera.
What do you mean by the word "funds,” and how would the funds be set aside and held in escrow?
Mr. HENDRIE. I think that would remain to be determined out of a rulemaking proceeding. The Commission would have to establish implementing regulations under this authority, and I think we would want to look at a number of ways, and I don't know whether-let me see if we have some particular financial-
Mr. FINNEGAN. What I want to get at here is if you are talking about a bond, that is one thing, but if you are talking about a fund that would go to the NRC, I would think that any funds that come to the NRC would automatically have to go to miscellaneous receipts of Treasury
Mr. HENDRIE. I don't think we are talking about funds that the NRC would collect. Just bonding.
Mr. FINNEGAN. So you are talking about bonds.
Mr. FINNEGAN. And I assume you mean an adequate bond to cover the cost of cleanup of these tailings at the termination of the license, is that correct?
Mr. HENDRIE. I guess so, yes. That is the purpose.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Do you have any estimate of what kind of bonds you are talking about?
Mr. HENDRIE. Let's see if Lee Rouse can help you.
Mr. ROUSE. The present reclamation cost that we have put in the conditions of some of our NRC licenses, the estimated cost for the reclamation plants, decommissioning, range from $2 to $3 million, up to perhaps $8, $9, or $10 million.
Mr. FINNEGAN. That is what your estimate costs are, and you would have to have bonds for that type of figure?
Mr. ROUSE. Yes.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Could you see what you can find out and provide it for the record?
Mr. Rouse. Yes.
BOND PREMIUMS FOR RECLAMATION OF URANIUM MILLTAILINGS Based upon information available to the NRC staff, annual premiums for bonds for uranium mining-milling firms range in the order of one-half percent up to 2-3 percent of the amount of the bond. Premiums for the bonds are dependent upon the financial status of the firm. As one example, one NRC uranium mill licensee has indicated that the premium on bonds covering mine reclamation and mill tailings reclamation is about $6,600 per year per million dollars of bonding surety. Another NRC licensee indicated that his annual premium at present was about $14,500 for a $3.9 million bond covering mining and mill tailings reclamation.
Mr. FINNEGAN. How many States have agreements with the NRC?
Mr. HENDRIE. Twenty-five.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Are those agreements uniform, and what problems have you encountered with them?
Mr. HENDRIE. They are not all uniform. They are negotiated under the general provisions of section 274 of the Atomic Energy Act with the individual States. They were not all negotiated at the same time or by the same people and obviously it is a different State in each case, and inevitably differences creep in.
The intent in negotiating the agreement is to maintain the provision of the statute that says the regulatory regime in the State must be comparable to that of the NRC or in the old days the AEC.
We think the agreement State program has been on balance a great success. It has moved out into local regulatory centers a number of matters which if we had done them from Washington would have required a larger Federal staff and a less localized attention, perhaps. The States have wanted to do these things, and in the agreement the States have either had or developed the expertise to do them, and I think we are very pleased with the program.
That is not to say that we don't have criticisms of some of the State programs. We do, but I think, on balance, it is a good program and was a wise provision.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Does NEPA apply to the licensing done by these States, and do all agreement States prepare EIS's?
Mr. HENDRIE. We have taken the position in a lawsuit in New Mexico that it does not, at least to the extent of requiring an environmental impact statement.
Let me turn once more and see if I get a nod from counsel on that answer.
I am told I have stated it correctly. The case is in process at the moment.
Mr. FINNEGAN. Shouldn't it apply in the case of these licenses? Mr. HENDRIE. Which licenses?
Mr. FINNEGAN. The ones you are talking about here in connection-shouldn't NEPA apply in the connection of licensing by the States under this bill?
Mr. HENDRIE. There is a good deal of discussion on the point, and the Commission will be looking at whether we shouldn't go in that direction. We have already put in place a program to encourage States to do environmental impact statements and to provide technical assistance to them in doing such statements. So although I think our position is that the way the law reads between NEPA and the Atomic Energy Act that the States are not required