The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, part of the Nuclear Regulator Commission, is holding an evidentiary hearing in Crawford this fall on a proposed expansion of the Crow Butte Resources uranium mine.
Crow Butte, owned by Cameco Resources of Canada, applied for the Marsland Expansion Area in 2012. The Environmental Impact Statement for the proposal was approved earlier this year and the NRC staff in May approved the license, subject to challenges by opponents. The Oglala Sioux Tribe is challenging the proposed expansion hydrogeological-related environmental and safety matters.
The Crawford hearing will begin October 30th at 8:30 in the Crawford Community Building and continue day-to-day until concluded. Cameco, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and NRC staff will be the parties to the hearing – calling witnesses and submitting evidentiary evidence.
If there’s enough interest, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will also hold a 2-hour session on Sunday Oct 28th from 2-to-4:00 at Chadron State College where individuals who are not official parties will be able to make oral statements on matters of concern relating to the expansion.
Speakers will be limited to 5 minutes, but the time limit could be shortened depending on the number of those wanting to speak. The oral statements won’t be official testimony or evidence, but may help the Licensing Board or the parties in their consideration of the issues.
Signs no larger than 18 inches by 18 inches will be permitted at the Chadron State session, but may not be attached to sticks, held over one’s head, or moved about in the room. No signs will be allowed at the formal hearing in Crawford.
Crow Butte was the first uranium mine in Nebraska and began production in 1991 using the in-situ extraction method under a 10-year license that’s been extended twice, most recently in 2014 after an extensive challenge led by the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
The original mine site has been fully developed and is nearing the end of commercially viable reserves, which were valued at $75.9-million dollars in 2011 but just $10.6-million last year. Cameco proposed two expansions – North Trend and Three Crows – about a decade ago, then added the larger Marsland proposal and focused the licensing process on it.
The company believes the Marsland site has enough uranium to produce an average of 600,000 pounds of yellowcake – the powdered form resulting from in-situ mining – per year from 11 individual mine units. Water from the mining process will be removed at a new facility at Marsland with the resulting product transported to the existing main processing plant at the Crow Butte Site.