Changes to uranium mining permits advanced

The permit process for in-situ mining operations would be streamlined under a bill advanced from general file Feb. 1.

LB498, introduced by Ellsworth Sen. LeRoy Louden, would establish regulations related specifically to in-situ mining, which Louden said is not covered adequately under current regulations. In-situ mining is a method of extracting uranium deposits from underground. Oxidized groundwater is injected into boreholes and dissolves the uranium for removal.

“This is a huge economic driver in northwest Nebraska,” Louden said.

An Agriculture Committee amendment, adopted 32-0, replaced provisions of the bill and addresses the amended permit process used for in-situ mining companies.

Currently, a permit could be amended unless it would increase daily peak withdrawal or annual volume by more than 25 percent from the amounts allowed in the original permit.

The amended bill would add an exception to this language for a permit amendment to increase the daily peak withdrawal or annual volume to levels authorized under a state Department of Environmental Quality permit.

Senators adopted a Louden technical amendment 32-0 and advanced the bill to select file on a 33-0 vote.

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