Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Subtitle V. Other Sources of Energy; Energy Policy
Chapter 21. Nuclear Energy
4/21/2024

Chapter 21. Nuclear Energy.

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 45.2-2100. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Authority" means the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority established pursuant to this chapter.

"Board" means the board of directors of the Authority.

"Consortium" means the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium established by the Authority pursuant to § 45.2-2105.

"Member" means a member of the Consortium.

2013, cc. 57, 394, § 67-1400; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2101. Nuclear energy; strategic plan.

A. The Department and the Secretaries of Commerce and Trade and Education shall work in coordination with the Authority, established pursuant to Article 2 (§ 45.2-2102), and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority, established pursuant to Article 4 (§ 2.2-2234 et seq.) of Chapter 22 of Title 2.2, to develop a strategic plan for nuclear energy as part of the Commonwealth's overall goal of carbon-free energy.

B. Such plan may include (i) the promotion of new technologies and opportunities for innovation, including advanced manufacturing; (ii) the establishment of a collaborative research center and university nuclear leadership program to promote education in fields that meet the workforce demands of Virginia's nuclear industry; and (iii) recognition of the role of nuclear energy in the Commonwealth's goal of employing 100 percent carbon-free sources of energy by 2050.

C. Such plan shall be completed by October 1, 2020, updated every four years thereafter, and published on the Internet by the Authority.

2020, cc. 657, 658, § 67-1700; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

Article 2. Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority.

§ 45.2-2102. Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority established.

There is hereby established a political subdivision of the Commonwealth known as the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority. The Authority's exercise of powers conferred by this article shall be deemed to be the performance of an essential governmental function and matters of public necessity for which public moneys may be spent and private property acquired.

2013, cc. 57, 394, § 67-1401; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2103. Purposes; powers of Authority.

A. The Authority is established for the purposes of making the Commonwealth a national and global leader in nuclear energy and serving as an interdisciplinary study, research, and information resource for the Commonwealth on nuclear energy issues.

B. The Authority is granted all powers necessary or convenient for the carrying out of its statutory purposes, including the following rights, powers, and duties to:

1. Adopt, use, and alter at will a corporate seal;

2. Acquire, purchase, hold, use, lease, or otherwise dispose of property, real, personal, or mixed, tangible or intangible, or any interest therein necessary or desirable for carrying out the purposes of the Authority;

3. Adopt bylaws for the management and regulation of its affairs;

4. Develop and adopt a strategic plan for carrying out the purposes set out in this article;

5. Make and enter into any contract or agreement necessary or incidental to the performance of its duties, the furtherance of its purposes, and the execution of its powers under this article, including an agreement with any person or federal agency;

6. Consult with the General Assembly; federal, state, and local agencies; nonprofit organizations; private industry; and other potential developers and users of nuclear energy;

7. Promote and facilitate agreements among public and private institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth and other research entities to carry out research projects relating to nuclear energy;

8. Disseminate information and research results;

9. Identify and support, in cooperation with Virginia's nuclear entities and the public and private sectors, the development of education programs related to Virginia's nuclear industry;

10. Provide for the establishment of the Consortium by the Board as provided in § 45.2-2105;

11. Develop a policy regarding any interest in intellectual property acquired or developed by the Consortium;

12. In order to fund and support the activities of the Authority and the Consortium, apply for, solicit, and accept from any source, including any agency of the federal government, the Commonwealth, or any other state; any locality or other political subdivision; any member; or any private corporation or other entity, (i) grants, including grants made available pursuant to federal legislation; (ii) aid; or (iii) contributions of money, property, or other things of value, which shall be held, used, and applied for the purposes set out by this chapter;

13. Facilitate the collaboration of members toward obtaining grants and expending funds in accomplishing the purposes set out by this chapter;

14. Encourage, facilitate, and support the application, commercialization, and transfer of new nuclear energy technologies;

15. Provide public information and communication about nuclear energy and related educational and job opportunities;

16. Provide advice, assistance, and services to institutions of higher education and to other persons providing services or facilities for nuclear research or graduate education;

17. Foster innovative partnerships and relationships among the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth's public institutions of higher education, private companies, federal laboratories, and not-for-profit organizations to accomplish the purposes set out by this chapter; and

18. Do all acts and things necessary or convenient to carry out the powers granted to it by law.

2013, cc. 57, 394, § 67-1402; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2104. Board of the Authority.

A. The Authority shall be governed by a board of directors consisting of 17 members appointed as follows:

1. The Director or his designee;

2. The President and Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership or his designee;

3. The Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System or his designee;

4. The President of Virginia Commonwealth University or his designee;

5. The President of the University of Virginia or his designee;

6. The President of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University or his designee;

7. The President of George Mason University or his designee;

8. Two individuals, each representing a single institution of higher education in the Commonwealth that is not already represented on the Board. At least one of the institutions shall be a private institution of higher education;

9. Six individuals, each representing a single business entity located in the Commonwealth that is engaged in activities directly related to the nuclear energy industry;

10. One individual representing a nuclear energy-related nonprofit organization; and

11. One individual representing a Commonwealth-based federal research laboratory.

B. The members of the Board described in subdivisions A 1 through 7 shall serve terms coincident with their terms of office.

C. The 10 members of the Board described in subdivisions A 8 through 11 shall be appointed by the Governor. After the initial staggering of terms, such members shall be appointed for terms of four years. Vacancies in the membership of the Board shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments for the unexpired portion of the term. Members of the Board described in subdivisions A 8 through 11 may serve two successive terms on the Board.

D. Any appointment to fill a vacancy on the Board shall be made for the unexpired term of the member whose death, resignation, or removal created the vacancy.

E. Meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the chairman or any seven members. Nine members of the Board constitute a quorum for the transaction of the business of the Authority. An act of the majority of the members of the Board present at any regular or special meeting at which a quorum is present is an act of the Board.

F. Immediately after appointment, the members of the Board shall enter upon the performance of their duties.

G. The Board shall annually elect from among its members a chairman, a vice-chairman, and a treasurer. The Board shall also elect annually a secretary, who need not be a member of the Board, and may also elect such other subordinate officers, who need not be members of the Board, as it deems proper. The chairman, or in his absence the vice-chairman, shall preside at each meeting of the Board. In the absence of both the chairman and vice-chairman, the Board shall appoint a chairman pro tempore who shall preside at such meeting.

H. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, no officer or employee of the Commonwealth shall be deemed to have forfeited or shall forfeit his office or employment by reason of acceptance of membership on the Board or by providing service to the Authority or to the Consortium.

I. On or before November 15 of each year, the Authority shall submit its updated strategic plan, an annual summary of its activities, and recommendations for the support and expansion of the nuclear energy industry in Virginia to the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations, the House Committee on Labor and Commerce, and the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.

2013, cc. 57, 394, § 67-1403; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2105. Establishment of the Consortium.

A. The Board shall provide for the formation, by January 1, 2014, of a nonstock corporation under Chapter 10 (§ 13.1-801 et seq.) of Title 13.1, not organized for profit, that shall include in its name the words "Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium" or some variation thereof that is approved by the Board.

B. The Consortium shall be established for the purpose of conducting activities useful in (i) making the Commonwealth a leader in nuclear energy; (ii) serving as an interdisciplinary study, research, and information resource for the Commonwealth on nuclear energy issues; and (iii) carrying out the provisions of this article, including raising money on behalf of the Authority in the corporate and nonprofit community and from other nonstate sources.

C. The membership of the Consortium shall be open to:

1. Public or private institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth;

2. Commonwealth-based federal research laboratories;

3. Nuclear energy-related nonprofit organizations;

4. Business entities with operating facilities located in the Commonwealth that are engaged in activities directly related to the nuclear energy industry; and

5. Other individuals or entities whose membership is approved by the board of directors of the Consortium through a process established by the bylaws of the Consortium.

D. The board of directors of the Consortium shall consist of members selected and approved by the Consortium pursuant to a process established by its bylaws.

E. The board of directors of the Consortium shall appoint an executive director to serve as the principal administrative officer of the Consortium. The executive director shall carry out the specific duties assigned to him by the board of directors and develop appropriate policies and procedures for the operation of the Consortium; employ persons and secure services as required to carry out the purposes of the Consortium; expend funds as authorized by the Authority; and accept moneys from federal or private sources on behalf of the Authority, including moneys contributed by Consortium members to the Authority, for cost-sharing on nuclear energy research or projects. The executive director and any other employee of the Consortium (i) shall be compensated in the manner provided by the board of directors of the Authority, (ii) shall not be subject to the provisions of the Virginia Personnel Act (§ 2.2-2900 et seq.), and (iii) shall not be deemed to be an officer or employee for purposes of the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act (§ 2.2-3100 et seq.).

F. The articles of incorporation of the Consortium shall provide that upon dissolution the net assets of the Consortium shall be transferred to the Authority.

G. The Consortium shall not be deemed to be a state or governmental agency, advisory agency, public body, or agency or instrumentality for purposes of Chapter 8 (§ 2.2-800 et seq.), 18 (§ 2.2-1800 et seq.), 24 (§ 2.2-2400 et seq.), 29 (§ 2.2-2900 et seq.), 31 (§ 2.2-3100 et seq.), 37 (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.), 38 (§ 2.2-3800 et seq.), 43 (§ 2.2-4300 et seq.), 44 (§ 2.2-4400 et seq.), 45 (§ 2.2-4500 et seq.), 46 (§ 2.2-4600 et seq.), or 47 (§ 2.2-4700 et seq.) of Title 2.2, Chapter 14 (§ 30-130 et seq.) of Title 30, or Chapter 1 (§ 51.1-124.1 et seq.) of Title 51.1.

H. The board of directors of the Consortium shall adopt, alter, and repeal bylaws governing the manner in which its business shall be transacted and the manner in which the activities of the Consortium shall be conducted.

I. The Consortium shall report on all of its nonproprietary activities at least twice a year to the Authority.

2013, cc. 57, 394, § 67-1404; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2106. Moneys of Authority.

All moneys of the Authority, from whatever source derived, shall be paid to the treasurer of the Authority. Such moneys shall be deposited in the first instance by the treasurer in one or more banks or trust companies, in one or more special accounts. All banks and trust companies are authorized to give such security for such deposits, if required by the Authority. The moneys in such accounts shall be paid out on the warrant or other orders of such persons as the Authority authorizes to execute such warrants or orders.

2013, cc. 57, 394, § 67-1405; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2107. Audits; external reviews.

A. The Auditor of Public Accounts, or his legally authorized representatives, shall annually audit the financial accounts of the Authority. The audit report and any nonproprietary information provided to the auditor in connection with the audit shall be made available to the public, upon request, in accordance with the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.).

B. The Authority, if it receives state funds, shall be subject to periodic external review either (i) under the provisions of the Legislative Program Review and Evaluation Act (§ 30-64 et seq.) or (ii) by an entity appointed for that purpose by the Governor.

2013, cc. 57, 394, § 67-1406; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

Article 3. Exploration for Uranium Ore.

§ 45.2-2108. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Exploration activity" means and is limited to the drilling of test holes or stratigraphic or core holes of a depth in excess of 50 feet for the purpose of determining the location, quantity, or quality of uranium ore.

"Person" means any individual, firm, corporation, partnership, association, or other legal entity.

"Usable quality water" means groundwater that is used or can be used for a beneficial purpose, including a domestic, livestock, or irrigation use.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-273; 1984, c. 590; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2109. Regulations.

The Director shall, in accordance with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.), adopt regulations as may be necessary and proper to carry out the provisions of this article.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-279; 1984, c. 590; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2110. Permit for exploration activity required; fee.

A. It is unlawful for any person to commence any exploration activity without first obtaining a permit to do so from the Director. The application for the permit shall be in a form the Director prescribes and shall be accompanied by a fee of $250 and by any other information required by this article.

B. The application for a permit to carry out exploration activity shall be accompanied by a bond, payable to the Commonwealth, with surety acceptable to the Director. The bond shall ensure compliance with the provisions of this article and any regulations adopted hereunder relating to the drilling, redrilling, plugging, or abandoning of any exploration activity. The bond shall be set by the Director in an amount deemed reasonable and necessary.

C. An initial permit shall be valid for a period of one year and may be renewed annually.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-274; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2111. Maps or plats of proposed exploration activity area.

Before undertaking any exploration activity on any tract of land, the person proposing the exploration activity shall prepare or have prepared and file with the Director, together with the application required by § 45.2-2110, an accurate map, on a scale stated thereon, showing the location of the proposed exploration activity; the courses and distances of such activity from two permanent points or landmarks on the tract; the approximate location areas in which test holes or core or stratigraphic holes may be drilled; the name of the owner; and boundaries and acreage of the tract on which the exploration activity is to take place.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-275; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2112. Abandoning exploration hole; affidavits required.

Within 45 days after the abandonment of any exploration hole, the permittee shall notify the Director that such exploration hole has been plugged and abandoned, giving the location of the hole. The permittee shall submit an affidavit setting forth the time and manner in which the hole was plugged and filled. One copy of the affidavit shall be retained by the permittee, one shall be sent to the State Geologist, and the third shall be sent to the Director.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-276; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2113. Plugging.

The plugging of an exploration hole shall be as follows:

1. Each exploration hole shall be adequately plugged with cement from the bottom of the hole upward to a point three feet below plow depth. The remainder of the hole between the top of the plug and the surface shall be filled with cuttings or nontoxic material.

2. If multiple aquifers alternating usable quality water and saltwater zones, or other conditions determined by the Director to be potentially deleterious to surface water or groundwater are encountered, the conditions shall be isolated immediately by cement plugs. Each hole shall be plugged with cement to prevent water from flowing into or out of the hole or mixing within the hole. The length of the plug shall be determined by the Director on the basis of available data on the specific site.

3. Each exploration hole shall be plugged as soon as reasonably practical after drilling, unless multiple aquifers are encountered.

4. Alternative plugging procedures and materials may be utilized if the applicant demonstrates to the Director's satisfaction that the alternatives will protect groundwater and comply with the provisions of this article. In the event that a hole is more suitably plugged with a nonporous material other than cement, the material shall have characteristics at least equal to cement.

5. In the event that an exploration hole is to remain unplugged pursuant to the provisions of § 45.2-2114, the procedure contained in subdivision 2, if applicable, shall be applied and the exploration hole shall be plugged to the extent required by that subdivision.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-277; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2114. Developing an exploration hole as a water well.

If any exploration hole drilled for the purpose of determining the location, quantity, or quality of uranium ore indicates a stratum or source of potable fresh water that could be developed pursuant to established U.S. Environmental Protection Agency safe drinking water standards for a community water system, upon the request of the owner of the property on which the exploration hole is located and following application to and approval by the Director, who shall secure concurrence from the State Department of Health, the well, in lieu of being plugged and abandoned, may be developed and completed as a water well. The development and completion of an exploration hole as a water well shall be performed in accordance with applicable state water control laws and regulations.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-278; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2115. Right of inspection by Director.

For the purposes of carrying out the provisions of this article, the Director is hereby vested with authority to inspect at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner any area for which he has received an application for a permit, or has granted a permit, for exploration activity.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-280; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2116. Uranium mining permit applications; uranium mining deemed to have significant effect on surface.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no application for a uranium mining permit shall be accepted by any agency of the Commonwealth until a program for permitting uranium mining is established by statute. For the purpose of construing the definition of "mining" in § 45.2-1200, uranium mining is deemed to have a significant effect on the surface.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-283; 1983, c. 3; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2117. State and local authority.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to alter the authority of any state or local governing body, including any authority conferred under Chapter 22 (§ 15.2-2200 et seq.) of Title 15.2, relating to any matter that is the subject of this article.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-284; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2118. Confidentiality of logs, surveys, and reports.

A. The Director shall hold confidential all logs, surveys, plats, and reports filed under this article by any person engaged in the exploration for uranium for a period of two years after the completion of the exploratory activities.

B. Upon written request by any person engaged in exploration for uranium, the Director shall hold confidential all logs, surveys, plats, and reports filed under this chapter for an additional two-year period. The Director shall grant such request if the requesting party certifies that he considers all such information to be of a proprietary nature relating to his competitive rights. The requesting party may renew his request every two years.

C. Nothing in this section shall be construed to deny the State Geologist access to any log, survey, plat, or report filed under this article. However, the State Geologist shall hold such information confidential to the same extent as the Director.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-285; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-2119. Civil penalty.

A. Any person who violates any provision of this article, or who fails, neglects, or refuses to comply with any regulation adopted by the Director or final order of a court lawfully issued, shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each violation. Each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense. All civil penalties shall be paid into the state treasury and deposited by the State Treasurer into the Minerals Reclamation Fund pursuant to § 45.2-1234.

B. The Director may restrain violations of this article in accordance with the provisions of § 45.2-1608.

1982, c. 269, § 45.1-282; 1984, c. 590; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.