Brown Ranch Baseline Hydrogeologic Investigations

Cameco Resources
Powder River Basin, Wyoming

Wenck was retained by Cameco Resources to assist in the preparation of state and federal permit and license documents for their North Butte In Situ Recovery uranium project and subsequent amendment to the North Butte permit to incorporate the adjacent Brown Ranch property. The facility is located near the Pumpkin Buttes within the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. The permitting work included hydrogeologic investigations to determine lithologic and baseline groundwater quality conditions, and aquifer characteristics of the lower portion of the Wasatch Aquifer, where the uranium ore is located.

Wenck identified the locations for and collaborated on the installation of monitoring wells within the ore horizon and the immediate overlying and underlying sand units within the Wasatch Formation to determine the hydrogeologic properties of the aquifer and quality of the groundwater. The wells were sampled quarterly for a year, and analyzed for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) required list of parameters. The data were statistically evaluated to determine operating and excursion parameters and aquifer restoration targets.

Wenck performed multiple-well tests to determine aquifer characteristics and to show that there was no communication between the ore horizon and the next overlying and underlying aquifers. The information derived was used to develop potentiometric surface maps and aquifer characteristics to determine groundwater movement velocities and flow directions. This information was also used to develop operating and restoration plans as well as aquifer exemption boundaries. The work was incorporated into a multi-volume permit application document submitted to the WDEQ and a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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