State takeover of uranium mining regulation would cost at least $4.5 million
It would cost at least $4.5 million dollars for Wyoming to take over regulatory control of the uranium and thorium mining industries from the federal government, according to a new feasibility study from the Department of Environmental Quality.
Deputy Director Nancy Nuttbrock says that estimate only takes into account the six years it would take to get the program running -- not it’s actual operations.
The mining industry has been pushing the state to take over, saying the Nuclear Regulatory Commission charges too much and moves too slowly. But Nuttbrock says it will be up to the legislature to decide whether the costs are worth it.
“No recommendations were requested [in the report]. So the feasibility study really outlines the facts," Nuttbrock says. "These are the facts in terms of what the state would need to change in order to apply for this program.”
Those include changes in the law and staffing, among other things.
Because Wyoming produces more uranium than any other state the country, staffing would have to be at levels similar to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“It’s considerably more than what other states do, so in terms of looking at other states for guidance on staffing needs, that wasn’t a direct comparison,” Nuttbrock says.
The report suggests that the DEQ’s Land Quality Division would need to add an additional 10 staff members.
The Legislature’s Joint Minerals Committee will discuss the report at its upcoming meeting, on December 12.