2013 Conference of the International Medical Geology Association (25–29 August 2013)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM


PELIZZA, Mark, Uranium Resources, Inc, 405 SH 121 Bypass, Building A, Suite 110, Plano, TX 75067, mspelizza@uraniumresources.com

Uranium is a naturally occurring element that is recovered commercially as an energy fuel when found in sufficient concentrations and quantities. Geoscientists have historically sampled and analyzed groundwater from existing wells for uranium and other elements as a uranium exploration method. In 1973, the Atomic Energy Commission initiated the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) program to identify uranium resources in the United States. NURE investigators systematically sampled and analyzed groundwater across the United States to determine the presence and levels of uranium and other chemical constituents. Analysis of the NURE data revealed that naturally occurring uranium is commonly found in fresh water aquifers in uranium producing regions of the United States.

In situ uranium recovery (ISR) has been widely practiced in the United States for about 40 years. Because ISR is conducted in aquifers, a vast amount of baseline ground water quality data is required before mining can begin which must be provided to regulatory agencies and the public. This baseline data, from over 100 mine areas, reveals that elevated concentrations of uranium and its progeny occur in the groundwater in and around the uranium mineralization.

It is this understanding of the uranium radiochemical footprint in groundwater that USEPA uses as the basis for issuing Aquifer Exemptions for ISL uranium recovery facilities according to their rules at 40 CFR 146.4 that requires a finding that groundwater in a uranium ore zone cannot now and will not in the future serve as a source of drinking water. ISR cannot be conducted in the United States without a USEPA approved Aquifer Exemption.