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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of June 3, 2020

Title 40Chapter ISubchapter CPart 61 → Subpart W


Title 40: Protection of Environment
PART 61—NATIONAL EMISSION STANDARDS FOR HAZARDOUS AIR POLLUTANTS


Subpart W—National Emission Standards for Radon Emissions From Operating Mill Tailings


Contents
§61.250   Designation of facilities.
§61.251   Definitions.
§61.252   Standard.
§61.253   Determining compliance.
§61.254   Annual reporting requirements.
§61.255   Recordkeeping requirements.
§61.256   Exemption from the reporting and testing requirements of 40 CFR 61.10.

Source: 54 FR 51703, Dec. 15, 1989, unless otherwise noted.

§61.250   Designation of facilities.

The provisions of this subpart apply to owners or operators of facilities licensed to manage uranium byproduct materials during and following the processing of uranium ores, commonly referred to as uranium mills and their associated tailings. This subpart does not apply to the disposal of tailings.

§61.251   Definitions.

As used in this subpart, all terms not defined here have the meaning given them in the Clean Air Act or 40 CFR part 61, subpart A. The following terms shall have the following specific meanings:

(a) Area means the vertical projection of the pile upon the earth's surface.

(b) Continuous disposal means a method of uranium byproduct material or tailings management and disposal in which uranium byproduct material or tailings are dewatered by mechanical methods immediately after generation. The dried uranium byproduct material or tailings are then placed in trenches or other disposal areas and immediately covered to limit emissions consistent with applicable Federal standards.

(c) Dewatered means to remove the water from recently produced uranium byproduct material or tailings by mechanical or evaporative methods such that the water content of the uranium byproduct material or tailings does not exceed 30 percent by weight.

(d) Existing conventional impoundment means any conventional uranium byproduct material or tailings impoundment which is licensed to accept additional uranium byproduct material or tailings and is in existence on December 15, 1989.

(e) Operation. Operation means that an impoundment is being used for the continued placement of uranium byproduct material or tailings or is in standby status for such placement. An impoundment is in operation from the day that uranium byproduct material or tailings are first placed in the impoundment until the day that final closure begins.

(f) Phased disposal means a method of uranium byproduct material or tailings management and disposal which uses lined impoundments which are filled and then immediately dried and covered to meet all applicable Federal standards.

(g) Uranium byproduct material or tailings means the waste produced by the extraction or concentration of uranium from any ore processed primarily for its source material content. Ore bodies depleted by uranium solution extraction and which remain underground do not constitute byproduct material for the purposes of this subpart.

(h) Conventional impoundment. A conventional impoundment is a permanent structure located at any uranium recovery facility which contains mostly solid uranium byproduct material or tailings from the extraction of uranium from uranium ore. These impoundments are left in place at facility closure.

(i) Non-conventional impoundment. A non-conventional impoundment is used for managing liquids from uranium recovery operations and contains uranium byproduct material or tailings suspended in and/or covered by liquids. These structures are commonly known as holding ponds or evaporation ponds and can be located at any uranium recovery facility. They are typically not permanent structures unless they transition to become used as conventional impoundments. Impoundments constructed for the purpose of managing liquids from closure or remediation activities (e.g., contaminated groundwater), and which are used solely for that purpose, are not subject to the requirements of this subpart.

(j) Heap leach pile. A heap leach pile is a pile of uranium ore placed on an engineered structure and stacked so as to allow uranium to be dissolved and removed by leaching liquids.

(k) Standby. Standby means the period of time that an impoundment is not accepting uranium byproduct material or tailings but has not yet entered final closure.

(l) Uranium recovery facility. A uranium recovery facility means a facility licensed by the NRC or an NRC Agreement State to manage uranium byproduct material or tailings during and following the processing of uranium ores. Common names for these facilities are a conventional uranium mill, an in-situ leach (or recovery) facility and a heap leach facility or pile.

(m) Heap leach pile operational life. The operational life of a heap leach pile means the time period from the first time that lixiviant is placed on the heap leach pile until the time the final rinse is completed.

(n) Final closure means the period during which an impoundment or heap leach pile is being managed in accordance with the milestones and requirements in an approved reclamation plan. Final closure for the impoundment or heap leach pile begins when the owner or operator provides written notice to the Administrator and to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or applicable NRC Agreement State that:

(1) A conventional impoundment is no longer receiving uranium byproduct material or tailings, is no longer on standby for such receipt and is being managed under an approved reclamation plan for that impoundment or facility closure plan; or

(2) A non-conventional impoundment is no longer required for evaporation or holding purposes, is no longer on standby for such purposes and is being managed under an approved reclamation plan for that impoundment or facility closure plan; or

(3) A heap leach pile has concluded its operational life and is being managed under an approved reclamation plan for that pile or facility closure plan.

(o) Reclamation plan means the plan detailing activities and milestones to accomplish reclamation of impoundments or piles containing uranium byproduct material or tailings. Activities and milestones to be addressed include, but are not limited to, dewatering and contouring of conventional impoundments and heap leach piles, and removal and disposal of non-conventional impoundments. A reclamation plan prepared and approved in accordance with 10 CFR part 40, Appendix A is considered a reclamation plan in this subpart.

[54 FR 51703, Dec. 15, 1989, as amended at 82 FR 5178, Jan. 17, 2017]

§61.252   Standard.

(a) Each owner or operator of a conventional impoundment shall comply with the following requirements:

(1) Radon-222 emissions to the ambient air from an existing conventional impoundment shall not exceed 20 pCi/(m2-sec) (1.9 pCi/(ft2-sec)) of radon-222 and all owners or operators shall comply with the provisions of 40 CFR 192.32(a)(1) in the operation of the impoundment notwithstanding the exemption for existing impoundments in 40 CFR 192.32(a)(1).

(2) After December 15, 1989, no new conventional impoundment may be built unless it is designed, constructed and operated to meet one of the two following management practices:

(i) Phased disposal in lined impoundments that are no more than 40 acres in area and comply with the requirements of 40 CFR 192.32(a)(1). The owner or operator shall have no more than two conventional impoundments, including existing conventional impoundments, in operation at any one time.

(ii) Continuous disposal such that uranium byproduct material or tailings are dewatered and immediately disposed with no more than 10 acres uncovered at any time and shall comply with the requirements of 40 CFR 192.32(a)(1).

(b) Each owner or operator of a non-conventional impoundment shall comply with the following requirements: Non-conventional impoundments shall meet the requirements of 40 CFR 192.32(a)(1). During operation and until final closure begins, the liquid level in the impoundment shall be maintained so that solid materials in the impoundment are not visible above the liquid surface, verified by daily inspections documented through notations and by digital photographic evidence collected at least weekly. Should inspection reveal that solid materials in the impoundment are visible above the liquid surface, the owner or operator must correct the situation within seven days, or other such time as specified by the Administrator.

(c) Each owner or operator of a heap leach pile shall comply with the following requirements: Heap leach piles that have completed their operating life but have not yet entered final closure shall be managed in compliance with the phased disposal management practice in paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section. Heap leach piles shall be constructed in lined impoundments that are no more than 40 acres in area and shall comply with the requirements of 40 CFR 192.32(a)(1). The owner or operator shall have no more than two heap leach piles, including existing heap leach piles, subject to this subpart at any one time.

[82 FR 5179, Jan. 17, 2017]

§61.253   Determining compliance.

Compliance with the emission standard in this subpart shall be determined annually through the use of Method 115 of appendix B. When measurements are to be made over a one year period, EPA shall be provided with a schedule of the measurement frequency to be used. The schedule may be submitted to EPA prior to or after the first measurement period. EPA shall be notified 30 days prior to any emissions test so that EPA may, at its option, observe the test.

§61.254   Annual reporting requirements.

(a) The owners or operators of operating existing mill impoundments shall report the results of the compliance calculations required in §61.253 and the input parameters used in making the calculation for each calendar year shall be sent to EPA by March 31 of the following year. Each report shall also include the following information:

(1) The name and location of the mill.

(2) The name of the person responsible for the operation of the facility and the name of the person preparing the report (if different).

(3) The results of the testing conducted, including the results of each measurement.

(4) Each report shall be signed and dated by a corporate officer in charge of the facility and contain the following declaration immediately above the signature line: “I certify under penalty of law that I have personally examined and am familiar with the information submitted herein and based on my inquiry of those individuals immediately responsible for obtaining the information, I believe that the submitted information is true, accurate and complete. I am aware that there are significant penalties for submitting false information including the possibility of fine and imprisonment. See, 18 U.S.C. 1001.”

(b) If the facility is not in compliance with the emission limits of §61.252 in the calendar year covered by the report, then the facility must commence reporting to the Administrator on a monthly basis the information listed in paragraph (a) of this section, for the preceding month. These reports will start the month immediately following the submittal of the annual report for the year in noncompliance and will be due 30 days following the end of each month. This increased level of reporting will continue until the Administrator has determined that the monthly reports are no longer necessary. In addition to all the information required in paragraph (a) of this section, monthly reports shall also include the following information:

(1) All controls or other changes in operation of the facility that will be or are being installed to bring the facility into compliance.

(2) If the facility is under a judicial or administrative enforcement decree, the report will describe the facilities performance under the terms of the decree.

(c) The first report will cover the emissions of calendar year 1990.

§61.255   Recordkeeping requirements.

(a) The owner or operator of any uranium recovery facility must maintain records that confirm that the conventional impoundment(s), non-conventional impoundment(s) and heap leach pile(s) subject to this subpart at the facility meet the requirements in 40 CFR 192.32(a)(1). These records shall include, but not be limited to, the results of liner compatibility tests.

(b) The owner or operator of any uranium recovery facility with non-conventional impoundments must maintain written records from daily inspections and other records confirming that any sediments have remained saturated in the non-conventional impoundments at the facility. Periodic digital photographic evidence, with embedded date stamp and other identifying metadata, shall be collected no less frequently than weekly to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of §61.252(b). Should inspection reveal that a non-conventional impoundment is not in compliance with the requirements of §61.252(b), the owner or operator shall collect photographic evidence before and after the non-compliance is corrected.

(c) The records required in paragraphs (a) and (b) in this section must be kept at the uranium recovery facility for the operational life of the facility and must be made available for inspection by the Administrator, or his authorized representative.

(1) Digital photographs taken to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of §61.252(c) shall be submitted electronically using the Subpart W Impoundment Photographic Reporting (SWIPR) system that is accessed through EPA's Central Data Exchange (CDX) (cdx.epa.gov) at least monthly.

(i) Owners and operators must also submit information identifying the facility and facility location, the name or other designation of each impoundment, and the date and time of each photograph.

(ii) If the reporting form specific to this subpart is not available in SWIPR, the owner or operator must retain the digital photographs at the facility and provide them to the EPA or authorized State upon request, with the supporting information required in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section.

(2) [Reserved]

[82 FR 5179, Jan. 17, 2017]

§61.256   Exemption from the reporting and testing requirements of 40 CFR 61.10.

All facilities designated under this subpart are exempt from the reporting requirements of 40 CFR 61.10.

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