At a time when energy costs are rising and all available sources of energy must be utilized to meet increased demand, making the licensing process for uranium recovery more efficient, while at the same time protecting public health, safety and the environment, is simply good public policy.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has recently increased the efficiency of the individual permitting process through its Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS). At the same time, NRC provides safeguards to ensure continued protection of the environment, including groundwater quality.
Uranium in the U.S. is mined in the midwest, primarily by a process called in situ recovery. This process is environmentally benign, causes minimal disturbance of the surface, and typically uses only carbon dioxide and oxygen. Where uranium is found in porous and permeable host sands, ground water mixed with carbon dioxide and oxygen is pumped through the sands dislodging the uranium and collecting it at wells. This is essentially a reversal of the natural process by which the uranium was first deposited into the sands, and is only performed at sites designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as not containing water suitable for human consumption