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(last updated 2 Sep 2014)

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Site Index (includes UMTRA Title I and In-situ leach projects)

Ambrosia Lake (Title I) · Ambrosia Lake (Quivira Mining) · Bear Creek · Belfield mine · Belfield tailings · Bighorn Canyon · Bluewater · Bokan Mountain · Bowman · Boots/Brown · Bruni · Burns/Moser · Burrell (CO) · Burrell (PA) · Butterfly · Cañon City · Canonsburg · Cave Hills · Christensen Ranch · Church Rock mill · Clay West · Cottonwood Canyon area · Crooks Gap district · Crow Butte · Day Loma · Durango · Durita · Edgemont · Falls City (Title I) · Fernald · Ford · Gas Hills (ANC) · Gas Hills (Umetco) · Gas Hills North · Grand Junction · Grants · Graysill · Green Mountain · Green River · Gunnison · Highland (Exxon) · Highland (PRI) · Hite · Hobson · Holiday · Irigaray · Jackpile-Paguate · JJ Number 1 · Juniper · Labyrinth Canyon area · Lakeview · Lamprecht · L-Bar Mine L-Bar mill · Lisbon · Lowman · Lucky Mc · Maybell · Maybell (Title I) · Maybell West · Mexican Hat · Midnite · Moab · Monticello · Monument Valley · Mt. Lucas · Naturita · Navajo Indian Res. · Niagara Falls · North East Church Rock · O'Hern · Orphan · Palangana · Pawnee · Rifle · Riley Pass · Riverton · Salmon River · San Rafael Swell · Section 27 · Sherwood · Shiprock · Shirley Basin (Pathfinder) · Shirley Basin South (Petrotomics) · Shootaring Canyon · Skyline · Slick Rock · Split Rock · Spook · St. Anthony · Tex-1 · Tuba City · Uravan · West Cole · White Canyon · Willow Creek · Zamzow


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

GENERAL

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management external link (IAEA)

 

Abandoned Uranium Mining Clean Up Campaign to be announced on Earth Day

Defenders of Black Hills external link and Clean Up The Mines external link are hosting an Earth Day media event to announce a nationwide campaign for clean up of all abandoned uranium mines in the United States. More than 10,000 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) are located throughout the US, primarily in the Western States, and more than 10 million people live within a 50 mile radius of an abandoned uranium mine.
> View News Advisory Apr. 7, 2014 external link

 

Abandoned uranium mines report

> View DOE LM Abandoned Uranium Mines external link

DOE releases final technical topic reports on abandoned uranium mines:
> Download final topic reports external link (DOE LM June 20, 2014)

DOE releases draft technical topic reports on abandoned uranium mines: To inform the public of what LM has learned so far, four draft technical topic reports that provide the foundation of the Report to Congress have been posted to the LM website. The draft topic reports address defense-related uranium mine location and status, the potential impacts of these mines on human health and the environment, estimated cost and feasibility of reclamation and remediation efforts, and priority ranking for reclamation and remediation. (DOE LM Feb. 20, 2014)

DOE seeks stakeholder input on abandoned uranium mines report: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) is seeking stakeholder input on an abandoned uranium mines report to Congress.
> View DOE release Apr. 17, 2013 external link

Congress orders DOE to prepare report on legacy uranium mines: The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act includes provisions requiring the Department of Energy to study the cost and logistics required to clean up abandoned uranium mines, which often were used to mine materials in order to build nuclear warheads. Colorado (alone already) is home to approximately 1,300 uranium mines that produced uranium for nuclear weapons. (Mark Udall Dec. 28, 2012)
> H.R. 4310 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 external link, Sec. 3134

 

U.S. NRC audit identifies "opportunities" for more effective oversight of uranium recovery decommissioning
> View here

 

Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials From Uranium Mining, Volume 2: Investigation of Potential Health, Geographic, and Environmental Issues of Abandoned Uranium Mines external link, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA 402-R-05-007, August 2007 (Updated April, 2008)

This report, which is the second of two volumes, provides a general scoping evaluation of potential radiogenic cancer and environmental risks posed by small abandoned uranium mines in the western United States. While this technical report has been peer reviewed, EPA will take into consideration public comments for revision before the report is finalized. Comments should be provided by no later than October 30, 2007.

 

Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials From Uranium Mining, Volume 1: Mining and Reclamation Background external link, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA 402R-05-007, 182 pp., January 2006, Revised June 2007 [describes the uranium mining processes (conventional and in situ-leaching) used in the United States, the volumes and characteristics of the wastes generated, and the schemes used for reclamation of former uranium mine sites.]

Status of Decommissioning Program, 2004 Annual Report, Final Report, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NUREG-1814, January 2005
> Download full report external link · alternate source external link (660k PDF )

Uranium Recovery Sites Undergoing Decommissioning external link (NRC)


ALASKA


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Bokan Mountain

Newmont Exploration Ltd. identified as responsible for clean-up of abandoned Bokan Mountain uranium mine

Bokan Mountain, 38 miles southwest of Ketchikan is the site of Alaska's only producing uranium mine; the Ross Adams open-pit and underground mine operated from 1957 to 1971. This year, more than three decades after it was last mined and 12 years since agencies identified it as an official problem, the Forest Service nailed down Newmont Exploration Ltd. as responsible for cleaning it up.
The radiation at Bokan is between two and 100 times greater than background levels. The shafts have carcinogenic radon gas at 50 to 125 times the upper limit of safe indoor exposure levels. The surface water is contaminated and heads into Kendrick Bay, a spawning delta for all four salmon species. (Juneau Empire July 20, 2009)


ARIZONA


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

USGS releases report on uranium deposits and environmental impacts of former uranium mining near the Grand Canyon

> View here


Navajo Indian Reservation

> Addressing Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation external link (U.S. EPA Region 9)

 

EPA orders very first phase of cleanup work at four abandoned uranium mines in the Mariano Lake and Smith Lake areas on the Navajo Nation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with Homestake Mining Company of California requiring the company to assess contamination and address safety hazards at four abandoned uranium mines in the Mariano Lake and Smith Lake areas on the Navajo Nation. The EPA and the Navajo Nation will oversee the work.
Over the next several months, Homestake will conduct extensive radiation surveys of the mine sites to assess risks, backfill open holes and mitigate surface features that pose physical threats to people or animals. The company will also post bilingual (English/Navajo) warning signs around the mine sites and sample surface and subsurface soils in the areas around the mines. This work is the first phase of cleaning up the uranium contamination at the four mine sites, and is expected to be completed by fall 2015. (EPA Aug. 28, 2014)

Not all targets met for federal agencies' uranium clean-up on Navajo Reservation, GAO report

Several federal agencies met most of their targets in a five-year plan to clean up certain abandoned uranium mines and uranium processing sites on the Navajo reservation, a Government Accountability Office report released May 5 said.
The agencies didn't, however, finish cleaning up the former Northeast Church Rock uranium mine northeast of Gallup, N.M. or the Tuba City Dump, a former unregulated landfill in Tuba City, Ariz., in part due to the Bureau of Indian Affairs' contractor issues, the report said. Both sites are listed on the EPA Region 9's Superfund site. The agencies are working on a new five-year plan, the report said.
The accountability office recommended all agencies estimate necessary time, costs and actions to completely address uranium contamination issues at the Navajo reservation, a task the Energy Department said would be difficult due to several uncertainties, including uncertainty about the extent of the contamination. The office also recommended Congress require the EPA take the lead in developing these estimates. (Bloomberg May 6, 2014)
> View GAO release May 5, 2014 external link
> Download GAO Report: URANIUM CONTAMINATION - Overall Scope, Time Frame, and Cost Information Is Needed for Contamination Cleanup on the Navajo Reservation, Report to Congressional Requesters, May 2014, GAO-14-323 external link (3.7MB PDF)

Navajo Nation to get more than US$ 1 billion in settlement to clean up abandoned uranium mines, radioactive waste

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday (Apr. 3) that a $5.15 billion settlement has been reached over fraudulent conveyance claims against Kerr-McGee Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. More than $1 billion of the settlement will be directed to the Navajo Nation.
In December, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper of the Southern District of New York issued a decision after a 34-day trial. Gropper's decision stated Anadarko was liable for billions of dollars in environmental cleanup costs, including at uranium mines and mills that were once operated on the Navajo Nation by Kerr-McGee. During the 1950s and 1960s, Kerr-McGee operated uranium mines on the reservation, including in the Cove and Red Valley chapters in Arizona and on the Quivira mining site in Church Rock, N.M.
Under the settlement, about $985 million will be paid to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund clean up of about 50 abandoned uranium mines in and around the reservation, according to a release from the Department of Justice. In addition to that, the tribe will receive more than $43 million to address radioactive waste left at the former Kerr-McGee uranium mill in Shiprock.
Stephen Etsitty, executive director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency in Window Rock, Ariz., called the settlement "historic," even though he added that it still needs the court's approval. (Farmington Daily Times Apr. 3, 2014)
> View DOJ release Apr. 3, 2014 external link
> Download: Tronox bankruptcy settlement - sites and recoveries for cleanup costs external link (26k PDF - DOJ)
> See also: Settlement gives US$ 179 million to clean up abandoned Riley Pass uranium mine (South Dakota)

Department of Justice invites comment on proposed settlement agreement with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. on cleanup of contaminated sites:
Submit comments by May 14, 2014.
> Federal Register Volume 79, Number 71 (Monday, April 14, 2014) p. 20910-20911 (download full text external link)
> Download Proposed Consent Decree In Re: Tronox, Inc. external link

Anadarko's $5 billion pollution settlement wins approval: Anadarko Petroleum Corp.'s agreement to pay $5.15 billion for pollution cleanup across the U.S. was approved over objections from people who said their illnesses won't be properly compensated. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan L. Gropper in Manhattan today approved the settlement, which the federal government called the largest of its kind. Under the deal, Anadarko's Kerr-McGee unit will pay 88 percent of the money to the U.S. and 12 percent to people with personal-injury claims. Gropper is sending his recommendation to a district court, where the settlement also needs to be reviewed. (Bloomberg May 28, 2014)

Court decision could help Navajo to get funding for uranium cleanup

A court decision in a bankruptcy case could result in more than $1 billion for the Navajo Nation to help it clean up uranium contamination.
Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said the Navajo have prevailed in their claims against Anadarko Petroleum and Kerr-McGee Corporation involving former uranium mines and a uranium processing site. The sites were located in Cove, Ariz. in the far northeastern corner of the state, and Shiprock, NM. in the far northwestern corner of that state.
The decision is being appealed. (KJZZ Dec. 17, 2013)

U.S. DOE issues Communications and Outreach Plan for the Navajo Nation Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act sites

> Download: Communications and Outreach Plan for the Navajo Nation Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Sites, LMS/S09372 external link, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management, November 2013 (1.5MB PDF)

U.S. EPA orders some risk assessment and decommissioning work at abandoned uranium mines in Cameron and Smith Lake Chapters in the Navajo Nation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered El Paso Natural Gas and Western Nuclear, Inc. to begin work to investigate potential risks at abandoned uranium mine sites in Cameron and Smith Lake Chapters in the Navajo Nation. The work will be conducted under separate orders, with oversight by EPA and Navajo EPA.
El Paso Natural Gas will work in the Cameron Chapter to assess 24 mine sites for radiation contamination. While the assessment work will begin in Spring 2014, fencing and signs will be placed around some sites this fall.
Western Nuclear, Inc. will begin work in mid-September at the Ruby Mines in Smith Lake Chapter to close two mine entry points or adits, and close two vent holes. The company will also conduct an assessment to determine the work necessary to remove radiation contaminated soils from the mine areas and washes, arroyos, and roads near the mine. (EPA Sep. 12, 2013)

U.S. EPA gives Navajo Nation $3 million grant for cleanup of uranium-contaminated homes

Last week, the Navajo Nation Council Nabi committee passed legislation to accept a $3 million grant from the U.S. EPA to fix and demolish uranium contaminated homes on the reservation. According to a press release from the speakers office, contaminated homes can be found a quarter mile from the abandoned mines. (Navajo Post Mar. 11, 2013)

Agencies cite progress, but greater part of work still remaining on Navajo uranium cleanup

A consortium of federal and tribal agencies reported Thursday (Jan. 24) that a five-year, $110 million project to clean up uranium contamination in the Navajo Nation had addressed the most urgent risks there. But the report also said that in the last five years the agencies have learned much more "about the scope of the problem and it is clear that additional work will be needed." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy and Indian Health Service joined forces in October 2007 to tackle the widespread uranium contamination on Navajo lands left over from the nation’s atomic weapon production programs.
Among their accomplishments, the agencies reported that they have cleaned up nine abandoned uranium mines, rebuilt 34 homes and replaced contaminated soil at 18 sites, many near homes. The agencies also assessed the status of 520 mines, 240 water sources and 800 homes and public structures, exceeding goals set in the five-year plan, the report said. It added that officials shut down three contaminated wells and hauled clean water to affected areas of the Navajo Nation or started projects to pipe in water.
But critics said the government has only begun to scratch the surface of the problem. Chris Shuey, an environmental and health scientist at the Southwest Research and Information Center external link, said the EPA has not made progress on cleaning up any of the 520 identified abandoned mines. Shuey, whose organization aids in nuclear waste management and uranium mining reclamation, said that the toxic materials need to be moved to a facility far from peoples' homes, which is not happening now. "There is a widespread cynicism that nothing is really going to be done to clean up these mines," said Shuey, who has work with Navajo on this project. But Shuey acknowledged that the agencies' success in identifying the mines and affected water sources is a huge step in the right direction, and that replacing contaminated structures does benefit the people. (Cronkite News Jan. 24, 2013)
> Download: Federal Actions to Address Impacts of Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation, Five-Year Plan Summary Report external link, January 2013 (7.8MB PDF - EPA Region 9)

Cleanup at three abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land begins

This month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is beginning three uranium mine clean up actions on the Navajo Nation. The work, expected to cost $7.15 million, is part of the EPA's five year plan to address uranium contamination on the Navajo Nation and is being done in partnership with the Navajo Nation's Environmental Protection Agency. Funding for all three actions is from responsible parties, rather than the Superfund trust fund. The EPA expects to complete the cleanups by November.
  1. The first cleanup in the Cove, Arizona, area is expected to cost $1.5 million and take four to six weeks. Uranium mining in Cove Chapter, which lasted from the 1940s to the 1980s, included two transfer stations where uranium-bearing ore from the mines was stockpiled before trucks took the ore to the Shiprock Mill for processing. The transfer stations still contain some leftover uranium-tainted ore. EPA will remove the contaminated soil at Cove from one transfer station to another, where it will be sealed and stabilized. The area will be fenced and warning signs will be posted until a permanent disposal site can be selected.
  2. Near Casamero Lake, New Mexico, EPA will clean up contaminated soil left by the Section 32 Mine. That cleanup will cost an estimated $1.65 million and will include consolidating scattered contaminated soils on the main mine waste pile. Once that process is completed, the contaminated soils will be secured using a soil sealant, or temporary clean soil cover. The site will also be fenced until a final disposal decision is reached.
  3. near Northeast Church Rock and Quivira Mines, New Mexico
(EPA Region 9, Sep. 18, 2012)

Little progress still with cleanup of abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land

A hearing in 2007 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform led to a multiagency effort to assess and clean up hundreds of structures on the reservation through a five-year plan that ends this year.
Yet while some mines have been "surgically scraped" of contamination and are impressive showpieces for the EPA, others, like the Cameron site (Arizona), are still contaminated. Officials at the EPA and the Energy Department attribute the delay to the complexity of prioritizing mine sites. Some say it is also about politics and money. "'The government can't afford it; that's a big reason why it hasn't stepped in and done more," said Bob Darr, a spokesman for the Energy Department. "The contamination problem is vast."
To date, the EPA, the Energy Department and other agencies have evaluated 683 mine sites on the land and have selected 34 structures and 12 residential yards for remediation. The EPA alone has spent $60 million on assessment and cleanup. Cleaning up all the mines would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, said Clancy Tenley, a senior EPA official who oversees the uranium legacy program for the agency in the Southwest. (San Francisco Chronicle Apr. 22, 2012)

 

CDC Prospective Birth Cohort Study in Navajo Nation

Prospective Birth Cohort Study in Navajo Nation stalled for funding issues: A planned study of Navajo Nation mothers and children affected by uranium is ready to begin, but has been stalled by red tape, Nation officials say. The U.S. and Navajo Nation Environmental Protection agencies are waiting for the go-ahead on a project that was slated to begin last year. The problem is federal funding. (Farmington Daily Times Feb. 3, 2013)

CDC plans "Prospective Birth Cohort Study Involving Environmental Uranium Exposure in the Navajo Nation": The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans a "Prospective Birth Cohort Study Involving Environmental Uranium Exposure in the Navajo Nation". Comments are invited on the data collection plans and instruments.
Written comments should be received within 60 days of this notice.
> Federal Register Volume 76, Number 225 (Tuesday, November 22, 2011) p. 72206-72207 (download full text external link)

 

Cleanup of abandoned Skyline uranium mine (Utah)

> View here

Settlement provides some funds for assessments of abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land

Federal and Navajo officials say that $14.5 million from a bankruptcy settlement with a chemical company will help address contamination at dozens of uranium mine sites on the reservation. The money is part of a $270 million nationwide settlement announced last month with Tronox Inc. external link, an Oklahoma City-based company that sought bankruptcy protection last year to reorganize its operations and alleviate environmental liabilities and litigation costs.
While the money going to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Navajo Nation won't be nearly enough to clean up about 50 sites, it will provide for assessments and radiation screenings to determine the extent of any contamination. The majority of the $14.5 million will go to the EPA to address the Quivira Mine near Church Rock, N.M. - one of the highest priorities for cleanup among some 500 abandoned uranium mines on the vast Navajo Nation - and 49 other mines scattered in the northern and eastern parts of the reservation. The Navajo Nation will get $1.2 million to address environmental compliance at a former uranium milling site near Shiprock, N.M., where the groundwater is contaminated.
The settlement is subject to a public comment period. The settlement documents also are available for review in the Navajo Nation capital of Window Rock until Jan. 2. Each of the Navajo sites covered under the settlement are connected to Kerr-McGee Corp., the former parent company of Tronox and one of a handful of companies that produced much of the uranium on the Navajo Nation. Tronox sued Kerr-McGee and Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. external link, which bought Kerr-McGee for $18 million five months after Tronox was spun off. (AP Dec. 8, 2010)

> View Tronox Incorporated Bankruptcy Settlement external link (U.S. EPA)

University of New Mexico studies uranium exposure in Navajo mothers and infants

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry external link, a division of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has announced its cooperative agreement with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center external link for a $1 million a year, three-year study on pregnancy outcomes and child development in relation to uranium exposure among Navajo mothers and infants living on the Navajo Nation.
Dr. Johnnye Lewis, director of the Community Environmental Health Program at the UNM Health Sciences Center, and her research team will work with the ATSDR, Indian Health Service, Navajo communities, and other federal and Navajo agencies to enroll 1,650 pregnant women to be assessed during pregnancy and child birth. Infants will be assessed at birth, and for growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes up to 12 months of age. The study will also focus on building the infrastructure for longer-term follow-up of this cohort.
Uranium exposure on the Navajo Nation are a concern because of abandoned uranium mines and mills. There are 1,100 abandoned mines, mills and associated waste piles scattered throughout the area, which includes northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. Past research has identified uranium exposure as a possible contributor to several health conditions among the Navajo population, such as kidney disease. For these studies, only Navajo adults have been assessed. This will be the first study to observe pregnant women and their newborns.
The UNM Research team will include collaborators from the Southwest Research and Information Center external link as well as several Navajo community researchers. (University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center News Release Aug. 26, 2010)

U.S. EPA settlements require investigation of uranium contamination on Southwestern tribal lands

This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into two enforcement actions, both of which will contribute towards cleaning up uranium contamination at the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation.
In one settlement, Rio Algom Mining LLC, a subsidiary of Canadian corporation BHP Billiton, has agreed to control releases of radium (a decay product of uranium) from the Quivira Mine Site, near Gallup, N.M. In addition, the company is to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the levels of contamination at the site. The total cost for this work is estimated to be approximately $1 million.
Under the terms of a separate settlement, the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), will begin a comprehensive investigation of the levels of uranium and other contaminants in the waste, soils and groundwater at the Tuba City Dump Site in Arizona. They will also evaluate the feasibility of a range of cleanup actions. (U.S. EPA Sep 13, 2010)

Leaking Tuba City dump finally getting federal attention

A dump near Tuba City that has been leaching low levels of radioactive waste into the shallow aquifer finally is getting some federal attention, if not an actual cleanup yet. The Environmental Protection Agency plans to fence off a remaining section of an old dump, near two Hopi villages, and test for hot spots of radioactivity close by. This includes one area where the agency says uranium levels in the water exceed what's federally considered safe for drinking water by eight times. Uranium-related waste found in the testing will be removed with heavy equipment beginning in October, and 263 new testing holes will be dug to search for more. The dump, which operated uncontrolled and unlined from the 1950s to 1997, is located a few miles from a former uranium mill. (Arizona Daily Sun Sep. 26, 2009)

EPA to rebuild uranium-contaminated Navajo homes

The federal government plans to spend up to $3 million a year to demolish and rebuild uranium-contaminated structures across the Navajo Nation, where Cold War-era mining of the radioactive substance left a legacy of disease and death. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its Navajo counterpart are focusing on homes, sheds and other buildings within a half-mile to a mile from a significant mine or waste pile. They plan to assess 500 structures over five years and rebuild those that are too badly contaminated.
Between the 1940s and the 1980s, millions of tons of uranium ore were mined from the 27,000 square-mile reservation that spans Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Many Navajos, unaware of the dangers of contamination, built their homes with chunks of uranium ore and mill tailings.
The U.S. EPA estimates it will cost $250,000 to demolish each structure, haul away the debris and rebuild. The residents of contaminated homes will not be charged for the rebuilding. So far, the U.S. EPA has assessed 117 structures and demolished 27 of them. Thirteen have been or will be rebuilt, and the owners of the others received financial settlements. (AP June 14, 2009)

Navajo demand comprehensive assessment of abandoned uranium mines

The Navajo Nation's top health official told the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Navajos continue to live with the Cold War legacy of uranium mining, and that a long-term, comprehensive assessment and research program with adequate resources is needed to address it. Anslem Roanhorse Jr., executive director of the Navajo Nation Division of Health, said 520 radioactive uranium mines on the Navajo Nation were abandoned without being cleaned up. The uranium taken from Navajo land from 1944 to 1986 was used to meet the federal government's demand for nuclear weapons material, he said.
Testifying Thursday before the bi-annual CDC and Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry Tribal Consultation session external link on the Environmental Public Health in Indian country, Roanhorse said four million tons of uranium ore, known as “yellow cake,” were mined from Navajo land for more than 40 years. “There are about 500 abandoned uranimum mine sites throughout the Navajo Nation and only one has been fully assessed,” Roanhorse said. “At that site alone, the U.S. EPA estimated the total volume of contaminated materials to be about 871,000 cubic yards.” (Indian Country Today, Dec. 8, 2008)

EPA, in response to House Committee request, announces plan towards cleaning up the legacy of abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, finalized a five-year plan for cleaning up the legacy of abandoned uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. The plan, requested by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is the first coordinated approach created by the five federal agencies. It details the strategy and timeline for cleanup over the next five years.
EPA is currently addressing the most urgent risks on the reservation - uranium-contaminated water sources and structures. This spring, the Agency tested 50 water sources and over 100 structures for radiological contamination. EPA and the Navajo Nation EPA have launched an aggressive outreach campaign to inform residents of the dangers of consuming contaminated water. EPA will also use its Superfund authority to address contaminated structures, and has already targeted at least 13 structures for remediation.
Beginning in the 1940s nearly 4 million tons of uranium ore were mined at various locations throughout the Navajo Nation's 27,000 square mile reservation. During the next five years, EPA will complete a tiered assessment of over 500 abandoned mines, taking action to address the highest priority risks. (EPA Region 9 release, June 13, 2008)

> Download: Health and Environmental Impacts of Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation, Five-Year Plan, as requested by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, June 9, 2008 external link (1.3MB PDF)
> View more information on abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation external link (EPA Region 9)

Contaminated groundwater from radioactive waste dump near Tuba City migrating towards Hopi drinking water spring

After years of unsuccessfully petitioning various federal agencies to remove radioactive waste at a dump near Tuba City, Hopi officials now say any cleanup might come too late. A plume of contaminated water has migrated to within one-third mile of a spring the Hopi village of Lower Moencopi uses for drinking water, new data shows. But the EPA does not consider the dump an emergency cleanup site, and at this point, village drinking water is still safe, according to EPA standards.
That could change very soon, however. Two out of three testing wells -- those located closer to the dump -- are registering levels of radioactive water slightly above what is federally considered safe in drinking water, according to hydrogeologist Mark Miller, a consultant contracted by the tribe. One of those wells sits at the same elevation as the spring used by Lower Moencopi. "This is a major concern of ours," said Bill Havens, special assistant to Hopi Chairman Ben Nuvamsa. The contaminated water has reached the canyon used to water nearby crops, raising health concerns about potentially tainted corn, beans and melons. "It's close enough to the water that we irrigate with from Pasture Canyon that we need more conclusive data and some action to start doing something about the cleanup," said Lorena Naseyowma, assistant community services administrator for Lower Moencopi.
The unlined dump was opened by the Bureau of Indian Affairs decades ago and covered over with dirt and sand when it was closed in 1997. Cleanup is estimated to top $23 million and would require pumping contaminated water from the ground. There is currently no plan to clean up the dump, although meetings are scheduled later this month between Hopi officials and federal regulators. A chemical analysis has linked waste found in the dump to byproducts of a uranium mill formerly located a few miles from Tuba City. The Department of Energy has previously dismissed any such link. (Arizona Daily Sun Dec. 2, 2007)

House Committee appalled at federal agencies' incompetence to deal with mess left from Cold War era uranium mining on Navajo land

On October 23, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform external link held a Hearing on the Health and Environmental Impacts of Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation. The Committee was appalled by the obvious incompetence of the involved federal agencies (EPA, DOE, NRC, IHS, BIA) to deal with the legacy left from historic uranium mining on Navajo land, although the situation is notorious for decades. The Committee urged the agencies to tackle the problem without further delay and to identify any areas where Congressional action may be required.
> Download Testimonies external link

Aerial survey of abandoned uranium mines identifies excess radiation areas

"Aerial radiological surveys of forty-one geographical areas in the Navajo Nation were conducted during the period of October 1994 through October 1999. [...] The aerial survey and subsequent processing characterized the overall radioactivity levels and excess bismuth-214 activity (indicator of uranium ore deposits and/or uranium mines) within the surveyed areas. A total of 772,000 aerial gamma spectra and associated position parameters were obtained and analyzed during the multi-year operation. The survey determined that only 15 square miles (39 square kilometers) of the 1,144 square miles (2,963 square kilometers) surveyed (approximately 1.3 %) had excess bismuth indications above the minimum reportable activity, thus reducing the area requiring further investigation by a nominal factor of 76."
Source: An Aerial Radiological Survey of Abandoned Uranium Mines in the Navajo Nation, by T. J. Hendricks, DOE/NV/11718--602, August 2001
> Download full report external link (1.1M PDF)

Tribe urges cleanup for radioactive homes

"...thousands of Navajo men who worked in hundreds of uranium mines across the reservation from the late 1940s through the 1970s, mining the fuel for America's nuclear weapons arsenal. The miners found that with a little chipping, the waste ore rocks from mines could be squared up for excellent building material for walls, floors and foundations." [...]
"The Navajo tribe's office of the Navajo Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Program has identified 1,300 abandoned uranium mines. Since 1989, about half the mines have been sealed with concrete and other materials. But piles of exposed uranium ore waste rock remain. The rock can contain 'hot spots' of uranium ore.
Even where mine reclamation has occurred, there are waste rock houses left standing or only partially dismantled. And because traditional Navajo families are sheepherders who live spread out from one another – their high desert homeland covers parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico – the EPA does not know how many uranium homes exist on the reservation." (The Dallas Morning News, Dec. 26, 2000)

> see also: Letter from US EPA Region IX to Elsie Mae Begay external link


Orphan Mine Site

> Download Community Fact Sheet Orphan Mine Site external link (PDF - National Park Service)

Park Service to advance cleanup cost for abandoned Orphan Mine Site, as responsible parties duck

The abandoned Orphan uranium mine sits on the Grand Canyon's south rim, three miles from the park's famous El Tovar Hotel. Nearly 40 years after one of America's top-producing uranium mines was closed down, it is still leaching radioactive waste into a creek that feeds the Colorado River.
The two major defense contractors responsible for the site, whose lobbyists have close ties to Arizona Sen. John McCain, are refusing to cooperate with the National Park Service to clean up the Orphan Mine Superfund site. The park service has been trying since 2005 to negotiate a clean-up agreement with the companies. But the talks ended abruptly in February 2008 with no resolution.
The cash-strapped park service is now being forced to pay for the mine clean up, which could cost taxpayers more than $15 million. A park official said they would try to recover costs from the defense contractors later. "We can't wait," said Martha Hahn, the park's chief of science and resource management. "We need to get this cleaned up."
Shawn Mulligan, National Park Service senior environmental program adviser, said "negotiations have broken down" with Tech-Sym and Cotter Corp., subdivisions of DRS Technologies and General Atomics, over paying for an engineering evaluation to clean up the site's surface area. Mulligan said the park service will pay for the initial studies, estimated at between $1 million and $2 million.
Once a clean up plan is designed, Mulligan said the park service would ask the defense contractors to cover the work. If the companies refuse, Mulligan said the government could go ahead with the remediation, and file a lawsuit to collect damages. The cost for remediation of the Orphan Mine's surface area is estimated at $15 million. This would be the first clean-up phase. The cost to deal with contamination inside the underground mine and in a nearby creek is unknown. (Washington Independent July 22, 2008)


4 National Parks

Closure Plan and Environmental Assessment on Abandoned Mine Lands in four National Parks in Arizona available for public review and comment

The National Park Service (NPS) has released an Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine the appropriate methods to correct health and safety hazards at abandoned mine lands (AMLs) in four units of the National Park System in the State of Arizona: Coronado National Memorial, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Saguaro National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park.
Written comments will be accepted through March 15, 2010.
> View NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) external link

National Park Service seeks public comment on Project Scoping for an Environmental Assessment for a plan to correct health and safety hazards at abandoned mine lands in four National Parks in Arizona

The National Park Service (NPS)is preparing a plan to correct health and safety hazards at abandoned mine lands in Coronado National Memorial, Grand Canyon National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and Saguaro National Park.
Please provide all comments by September 8, 2009.
> View NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) external link


California


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Juniper uranium mine site

Completion of reclamation of abandoned Juniper uranium mine deferred until 2013

The Summit District Ranger, Molly Fuller, announced today that, although the Juniper Uranium reclamation is nearing completion, one more construction season will be needed to install the final cover over the waste repository. (Stanislaus National Forest Sep. 24, 2012)

Restoration of abandoned Juniper uranium mine begins

On Monday (June 25) the Stanislaus National Forest begins materials staging and hauling work on a restoration project. The plan calls for the piles of waste rock materials surrounding the mine to be replaced back into the open pit this year. Last year, a rock under-drain was constructed at the bottom of the pit to capture seepage and spring water for transport under the replaced material rather than through it. A toe berm was built at the mouth of the pit just above a sentiment catch basin. The basin will be monitored for the next several years to gage progress. Additional work will include covering the site with a liner and three feet of clean soil, re-vegetation using local seeds collected over the last two years, drainage ditches and erosion controls. The total project is expected to be completed by this fall. (myMotherLode June 23, 2012)

Contract awarded for remediation of abandoned Juniper uranium mine

On Aug. 23, 2011, the Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor, Susan Skalski, announced that a contract worth $1,533,524 to clean up the Juniper Uranium Mine was awarded to the Engineering/Remediation Resources Group, INC. (ERRG) of Martinez, Calif. The contract to mitigate environmental hazards and repair resource damage adheres closely to the 2009 Final Design documents that set the framework for the remediation.

Forest Service releases cleanup plan for abandoned Juniper uranium mine

The Forest Service today announced that the Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EC/CA) for the Juniper Uranium Mine Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) project is available for a 30-day public review and comment period, with comments on the document due by August 27, 2005.
> View USDA Forest Service release July 27, 2005 external link

Forest Service closes access to abandoned Juniper uranium mine site

On June 10, 2003, the Forest Service announced the closure of Forest Road 5N33 and the abandoned Juniper Uranium Mine area. New data indicates piles of waste rock emit more radiation than previously detected. At some locations within the site where levels reach 11 mrems an hour [0.11 mSv/h], human exposure to gamma radiation would exceed the EPA's recommended Maximum Dose Limit (MDL) of 15 mrem per year [0.15 mSv/a] when the exposure duration exceeds an hour and a half. The Forest Service has determined that erosion may have exposed gamma-emitting material to the surface, and that water runoff has contaminated about a half mile of Red Rock creek. The Forest Service is closing the area, fencing it off and posting warning signs.
The Juniper Mine site is located at 8,500 feet [2590 m] elevation on the Stanislaus National Forest, south of Sardine Meadow. The mine operated from 1956 to 1966 under private ownership and produced approximately 500 tons of uranium ore for processing in Salt Lake City, Utah. (USDA Forest Service release June 10, 2003 external link)

Cleaning up the site will take about two years and $2 million dollars from the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). That cleanup work will involve putting all waste rock left over from the mining process back into the pit and burying it. (Union Democrat June 10, 2003)

> See also: Stanislaus National Forest CERCLA information external link (U.S. EPA)


COLORADO

> See extra page


IDAHO


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Salmon River Uranium Development Site, Lemhi County

NRC Docket No. 04003400

Wildfire burns through former uranium mining site in Idaho

A wildfire in east-central Idaho has burned through three former mining sites containing traces of radioactive thorium and uranium and was advancing a fourth such site on Thursday (Sep. 20), but state officials said they believed the risk to human health was low. As a precaution, state environmental authorities planned to take air samples in North Fork, a small community in the fire zone north of Salmon, to assess any radioactive hazards posed by fire damage to the sites.
One area of concern is a defunct uranium mine and milling operation 5 miles west of North Fork, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted a cleanup several years ago of polluted soil, hazardous wastes and piles of raw uranium and thorium ore. No decontamination of buildings at that site was ever performed, and at least one of those buildings burned in the fire, according to officials from the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Flames also swept two abandoned gold mines about 20 miles west of North Fork, where surface radiation, presumably from natural uranium and thorium deposits in the ground, has been measured at several times normal background levels, officials said. (Reuters Sep. 21, 2012)

Smoke from a wildfire in Idaho that burned mining sites with traces of uranium and thorium contained elevated levels of radiation, but none that posed a risk to human health, state officials said on Friday (Oct 5). The state Department of Environmental Quality last month took air samples in North Fork, a town in the burn zone in east-central Idaho, after the so-called Mustang Complex fire swept through a former uranium mine and two abandoned gold mines. Health officials said then they believed risks to people's health was low, and the latest findings back up that assessment. Residents in the area had expressed worries about the smoke.
An analysis of air samples in North Fork showed residents would have been exposed to 0.5 millirems [5 µSv] of radiation in a 30-day period. Even without a danger from radioactivity, smoke from the blaze has posed a danger to residents, especially the young and the elderly, because it carries fine soot particles that can worsen existing respiratory or cardiovascular ailments. (Reuters Oct. 5, 2012)

> View Site Status: Salmon River Uranium Development external link (U.S. NRC)
> View NRC Notice of Completion of Remediation external link (Federal Register Volume 73, Number 190 (Tuesday, September 30, 2008) p. 56867-56868)
> Download Final Removal Action Report, Salmon River Uranium Development Site external link, Aug. 2008
> View Facility Detail Report: Salmon River Uranium Development external link, EPA Registry Id: 110014374391 (U.S. EPA)


MONTANA


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

> See also: Exploration pits in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (Wyoming/Montana)

 

Abandoned mines in Pryor Mountains

High radiation levels from abandoned uranium mines also found in Pryor Mountains (Montana) near Bighorn Canyon

High levels of radioactivity found at abandoned uranium mines in the Pryor Mountains has prompted the Custer National Forest to close one area and the Bureau of Land Management to consider closures at other nearby sites.
The Forest Service took radiation readings at the Sandra and Old Glory mines after an abandoned mines inventory suggested they may have high radiation levels. The mines are just west of Crooked Creek above Demijohn Hollow and southeast of the Red Pryor Ice Cave. At the Sandra Mine, the Forest Service found readings that ranged from 1.8 times the natural background level to 369 times.
After finding the high radiation levels, the Forest Service notified the BLM. BLM lands in the Pryors also contain abandoned uranium mines. On July 1, the BLM took readings at the Marie, Lisbon and Dandy mine sites, which are just south of the mines on Forest Service land. The highest readings were found at the Lisbon Mine, where radiation near the mouth of the mine measured 2 rems per hour [?!? presumably should read 2 millirems per hour], said Chuck Ward, a BLM ranger. (The Billings Gazette Aug. 17, 2003)


NEBRASKA


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Crow Butte

> View operational issues

 

Crow Butte Resources seeks approval for bioremediation test for groundwater restoration at in-situ leach mine

By letter dated Nov. 9, 2007, Crow Butte Resources (CBR) is seeking approval from Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) for a proposed Bioremediation Test in the north section of Mine Unit 4, Wellhouse 9.


NEW MEXICO

> See extra page


NEW YORK


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Niagara Falls Storage Site, Lewiston, Niagara County, New York

> View DOE Environmental Management - Niagara Falls Storage Site external link
> View book: Safety of the High-Level Uranium Ore Residues at the Niagara Falls Storage Site, Lewiston, New York (1995), Commission on Geosciences, Environment and Resources (CGER) external link
"This report examines the existing and proposed modification of a waste containment structure at the DOE Niagara Falls Storage Site (NFSS) in Lewiston, NY, used since 1949 to store highly radioactive residues separated during the processing of very rich uranium ores from the former Belgian Congo (now Zaire). The high-level residues remaining after the removal of uranium have been stored at the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works (LOOW) since 1949 (prior to 1949, the residues were returned to the African Metals Corporation of Belgium). The present area of the LOOW, reduced in size, is now known as the NFSS. The high-level residues, along with other, less radioactive residues and wastes, are presently stored at NFSS, buried under an interim cap to prevent influx of moisture from precipitation and outflux of radon gas."
"[...] the uranium concentration in the original Belgium Congo ores from which the K-65 residues were derived ranged from 35 to 60 percent U3O8 [...]" (!)
> View NFSS page at Tonawanda Nuclear Site Info external link


NORTH DAKOTA


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Belfield mine, Billings County, North Dakota

State to reclaim abandoned Belfield uranium mine

North Dakota's Public Service Commission's external link Abandoned Mine Lands Division plans to reclaim an old open pit uranium mine northwest of Belfield in summer 2004, using about $1.5 million from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands program. It is a relatively small mine, about 15 acres [6 ha], and one of the last known uranium mines in southwestern North Dakota, where uranium was mined in several locations in the 1950s and 1960s. (Bismarck Tribune Dec. 16, 2003)


OHIO


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Former Feed Materials Production Center, Fernald, Ohio

Fernald Closure Project homepage external link

Study finds high rates of systemic lupus erythematosus among residents in the vicinity of the former Fernald uranium processing plant (Ohio)

High rates of systemic lupus erythematosus have been linked to living in proximity to a former uranium ore processing facility in Fernald, Ohio, according to new research findings presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Systemic lupus erythematosus, also called SLE or lupus, is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, nervous system, and/or other organs of the body. The most common symptoms include skin rashes and arthritis, often accompanied by fatigue and fever. (American College of Rheumatology Nov. 7, 2012)
Lu-Fritts PY, Kottyan LC, James JA, et al.: Systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with uranium exposure in a community living near a uranium processing plant: A nested case-control study, in: Arthritis & Rheumatology external link, Aug. 7, 2014 (aheadofprint)

Study finds decreases in white blood cell counts and alterations in systolic blood pressure among residents in the vicinity of the former Fernald uranium processing plant (Ohio)

[...] The Fernald Feed Materials Production Center functioned as a uranium processing facility from 1951 to 1989, and potential health effects among residents living near this plant were investigated via the Fernald Medical Monitoring Program (FMMP). [...]
CONCLUSIONS: Results from this investigation suggest that residents in the vicinity of the Fernald plant with elevated exposure to uranium primarily via inhalation exhibited decreases in white blood cell counts, and small, though statistically significant, gender-specific alterations in systolic blood pressure at entry into the FMMP.
Wagner SE, Burch JB, Bottai M, et al.: Uranium exposures in a community near a uranium processing facility: Relationship with hypertension and hematologic markers, in: Environmental Research external link Vol. 110, Iss. 8, Nov. 2010, p. 786-797, (Oct. 1, 2010 ahead of print)

Major source of radon exposure overlooked at former Fernald uranium processing plant (Ohio)

University of Cincinnati (UC) scientists say that a recent scientific study of a now-closed uranium processing plant near Cincinnati has identified a second, potentially more significant source of radon exposure for former workers. That source -- six silos filled with uranium ore in the production area -- resulted in relatively high levels of radon exposure to 12 percent of the workers. More than half (56 percent) of the workers were exposed to low levels of radon while working at the site.
"Our findings have scientific and political ramifications," explains Susan Pinney external link, PhD, corresponding author of the study and associate professor of environmental health at UC. "Now we know workers in the plant's production area prior to 1959 may be at increased risk for developing lung cancer and other exposure-related health problems."

> View University of Cincinnati news release Oct. 23, 2008 external link

Cleanup of Fernald Silos 1 and 2 (Congo high grade tailings)

IEER issues critical assessment of management of Fernald Silo wastes

Shifting Radioactivity Risks: A Case Study of the K-65 Silos and Silo 3 Remediation and Waste Management at the Fernald Nuclear Weapons Site external link, by Annie Makhijani, Arjun Makhijani, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Takoma Park, Maryland, USA, August 2006

Congo high grade tailings to be trucked to Texas Low-Level Waste site for interim storage

Waste Control Specialists has applied to the Texas Department of State Health Services to amend the license for its Low Level Waste site in Andrews County, Texas, so it can store uranium tailings from a former U.S. Department of Energy uranium processing plant in Fernald, Ohio. Originally, the Department of Energy was going to send the silo waste to the Nevada Test Site. But the State of Nevada has threatened to sue DOE if silo waste is sent there, so DOE is considering other options. (Odessa American Oct. 22, 2004)
On April 28, 2005, DOE announced that the silo waste will be stored at the Waste Control Specialists site in Texas. The agreement covers two years of interim storage at the site. DOE still owns the waste and will look for a long-term storage or disposal arrangement. Waste Control also wants to dispose of the waste and has an application pending with the Texas Department of State Health Services. (AP Apr. 28, 2005)
> Download Fluor release Apr. 28, 2005 external link (PDF)
> Download DOE Factsheet, Transporting DOE Silos 1 & 2 Material from Fernald, Ohio, Apr. 28, 2004 external link (PDF)
The last load of the waste will be shipped to the Texas storage site on May 26, 2005 (AP May 25, 2006).

Cleanup of Silos 1 and 2 begins

The cleanup of Silos 1 and 2 (also known as K-65 Silos) has begun. The silos contain the uranium mill tailings left over from the processing of extremely high grade uranium ores received in the late 1940's and early 1950's from the Shinkolobwe mine in then Belgian Congo (now DR Congo). It is planned to remove the 8,890 cubic yards [6,796 m3] of so-called "high activity low-level waste"(!) from the two concrete silos and store them in steel transfer tanks, then to chemically stabilize the waste and ship it off site for disposal.
> View News Release: Fernald begins removing waste from K-65 Silos (Sep 29, 2004) external link

Composition of the stored material
 ConcentrationsTotals
Silo 1Silo 2Silos 1 & 2
[pCi/g][Bq/g][pCi/g][Bq/g][Ci][TBq][kg]
Th-23060,0002,22048,3001,787> 600> 22.2> 29.7
Ra-226391,00014,467195,0007,215> 3,700> 136.9> 3.7
Pb-210165,0006,105145,0005,365> 1,800> 66.6> 0.023
Po-210242,0008,954139,0005,143   
Source: 1994 ROD, unit conversion added; TBq = 10^12 Bq

It is also estimated that Silos 1 and 2 contain more than 28 t of uranium; other significant metals include more than 118 t of barium, 830 t of lead, and 2.6 t of arsenic (t = metric ton).

Air samples collected in 1987 from the unfilled, upper portions of Silos 1 and 2 showed maximum radon concentrations of 30 million pCi/l [1.11 billion Bq/m3], that is approx. 60 million times background. External radiation monitoring on top of the silo domes showed exposure rates in excess of 200 mrem/h [2 mSv/h], that is approx. 20,000 times background. The silo contents was later covered with a bentonite clay layer to reduce radon emanation and gamma radiation.

Based on the concentrations of Ra-226, the original ore grade of the uranium ore processed can be estimated at approx. 54% U (Silo 1) and 37% U (Silo 2). The total amount of uranium contained in the original ore processed can be estimated at 11,080 t U (t = metric ton).

Silos 1 and 2 Project external link
Silo 1 and 2 Project Fact Sheet: Part 1 external link (1.8MB PDF) · Part 2 external link (1.6MB PDF)
Silos 1-4 Final Record of Decision (ROD), Dec. 1994 external link (623k PDF)
Silos 1 and 2 Final Record of Decision Amendment (RODA), June 2000 external link (336k PDF)
Silos 1 and 2 Final Record of Decision Amendment (RODA), July 2000 external link (2.81MB PDF, including appendices)
Final Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) for Operable Unit 4 Silos 1 and 2 Remedial Actions, October 2003 external link (136k PDF)
Silos 1 and 2 ESD Attachment 2 Responsiveness Summary external link (37k PDF)


OREGON


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

White King and Lucky Lass mines, Oregon

Fremont National Forest Uranium Mines - Superfund Info external link (EPA Region 10)
NPL Site Narrative for Fremont Nat. Forest Uranium Mines (USDA) external link (EPA HQ)

Reclamation of White King and Lucky Lass mines to start in summer 2005

Cleanup work begins this summer and is expected to take two summer seasons. Kerr-McGee Chemical Worldwide, Fremont Lumber Co. and Western Nuclear will pay the $8 million cleanup cost. Kerr-McGee is the successor to the Lakeview Mining Co., which was formed by Lakeview-area people whom the energy commission recruited to conduct mining activities from 1955 to 1959.
At White King excavation pond, both the surface water and the ground water are contaminated, as are sediments. The pond covers about three acres and is 70 feet deep. The most contaminated soil from both mines is to be combined and covered. The acidic water in the White King pond is to be neutralized.
About 430,000 cubic yards, from the White King overburden stockpile, 35,000 cubic yards of off-pile material and 15,000 cubic yards of haul road material will be excavated, consolidated and relocated atop a 138,000-cubic-yard stockpile. The materials will be covered with "clay-like" material. A 2-foot soil cover will be placed over the 25-acre repository. Vegetation will be re-established atop the cover. The pond will be fenced to discourage use.
After excavation, the disturbed areas, which are expected to cover about 36 acres, will be reclaimed and revegetated. (Herald and News, May 8, 2005)


Pennsylvania


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning


SOUTH DAKOTA


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Cave Hills, Harding County, South Dakota

> View Riley Pass Uranium Mine Clean-up external link (Custer National Forest)

Settlement gives US$ 179 million to clean up abandoned Riley Pass uranium mine

A portion of a multi-billion settlement between the federal government and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. will finance the cleanup of an abandoned uranium mine in northwest South Dakota. The Rapid City Journal reports that $179 million will be used to rid the abandoned Riley Pass uranium mine of toxic metals and other elements. The site sprawls across 250 acres of bluffs and other land in the North Cave Hills. (AP June 1, 2014)
> Download: Tronox bankruptcy settlement - sites and recoveries for cleanup costs external link (26k PDF - DOJ)
> See also: Navajo Nation to get more than US$ 1 billion in settlement to clean up about 50 abandoned uranium mines

Cleanup of abandoned uranium mills in Cave Hills started late and continues at slow pace, due to lack of funding

The Forest Service is trying to get money from Tronox LLC, a spinoff of Kerr-McGee, the company that mined most of the uranium in Cave Hills in the late '50s and '60s. Tronox went through bankruptcy and the Forest Service was awarded $7 million in a bankruptcy settlement a few months ago. Mary Beth Marks, Forest Service coordinator of the uranium reclamation to date, said it'll cost about $63 million to do the job right.
Meantime, Tronox is in court with Anadarko Petroleum, which purchased Kerr-McGee, claiming Anadarko fraudulently promised enough assets to cover the uranium cleanup. Tronox was involved in the cleanup for a brief time and then walked off the project prior to the bankruptcy, Marks said. After Tronox walked off, the agency hired its own contractor and continued the work. Marks said it's slow, but steady progress. Two of the 12 pit bluffs were covered over last year. One of them had the highest or "hottest" gamma ray reading of all the exposed pits and still showed some hot spots after being covered over. More soil was layered up, she said. Another pit will be reclaimed this summer.
The sediment ponds that catch some of the erosion from the pits have been a particular challenge, she said. They've been dredged three times over the years and the slimy muck from the bottom has been trucked back up to the old uranium pits, where it and other clay soils runs back down to the ponds. The cycle won't stop until all the pits are sealed up and reclaimed. The work could take another 10 to 15 years, she said. That is faster than the half life of radioactive material. On the other hand, it's already been leaching into soils and water for more than half a century. (Bismarck Tribune May 15, 2011)

Work to cleanup the Riley Pass abandoned uranium mines in the North Cave Hills of South Dakota continues this summer: Dan Seifert, assistant forest geologist, for the Custer National Forest said a contractor will be hired to clean up one of about 12 bluffs this summer because no one has claimed responsibility for them. The cleanup consists of gathering contaminated mine waste including arsenic and uranium, and putting it on the bluff and covering it with sediment and top soil. The area will then be reseeded, Seifert said.
The Forest Service will pay for this portion of the clean up, Seifert said. A cost estimate for this summer's cleanup is not available, however last year's project of cleaning up two other bluffs cost $660,000 and dam repair work along with the removal of sediment from retention ponds cost $160,000, he said. The total cost of the Tronox portion of the reclamation project is estimated at $70 million. (The Dickinson Press June 25, 2011)

Tronox bankruptcy raises questions about uranium cleanup in Cave Hills area

Tronox Incorporated external link announced on Jan. 12, 2009, that it and certain of the company's subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. That raises questions about its obligations in Harding County in northwest South Dakota with regard to reclaiming land formerly used for uranium mining. The land had been mined in the 1950s by Tronox's predecessor, Kerr-McGee, and was left in poor condition. (The Black Hills Pioneer Jan. 13, 2009)
"The decision to file was made to address legacy liabilities. Tronox incurred these liabilities when it was spun off in 2006 by Kerr-McGee Corporation, which has since been acquired by Anadarko. The liabilities include environmental remediation and litigation costs that Tronox was required to assume at the time of the spinoff. These liabilities are an obstacle to Tronox's financial stability and success." (Tronox Inc. Jan. 12, 2009)

One-man 'occupation' of Slim Buttes protests slow clean-up of old uranium mines

Harold One Feather is waging a one-man protest to spur the U.S. Forest Service into a quicker clean-up of an old uranium mine in the Slim Buttes in northwestern South Dakota. One Feather, founder of the new Grand River Environmental Equality Network, said he was "occupying" the Slim Buttes, which are part of Custer National Forest.
The Grand River runs from Custer National Forest through several communities on the Standing Rock reservation, about 60 miles to the east. One Feather and other Standing Rock residents say runoff from uranium mines may be making people on the reservation sick, though the Forest Service denies that charge. (Rapid City Journal May 17, 2007)

New study shows environmental pollution from abandoned uranium mines in Cave Hills area, but no health problems determined

Abandoned uranium mines in northwestern South Dakota are polluting nearby waters, but a new study doesn't determine if that has caused health problems downstream. A School of Mines engineering professor says creeks flowing out of the Cave Hills north of Buffalo contain greatly elevated levels of uranium and arsenic, but the chemicals are undetectable less than ten miles downstream. The water is not used for drinking, and state data show normal cancer rates in the area. (AP Sep 12, 2006)
The final study report was released on April 18, 2007.
Final Report: North Cave Hills Abandoned Uranium Mines Impact Investigation external link, by Dr. James Stone, Dr. Larry Stetler, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and Dr. Albrecht Schwalm, Oglala Lakota College, April 18, 2007

Hazard cleanup at abandoned uranium mines in Harding County may cost $20 million

The clean up at abandoned uranium mines in Harding County will cost an estimated $20 million, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The agency hopes to have the Riley Pass Uranium Mines site included in the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program.
Hazardous materials contaminate 12 bluffs in the Sioux Ranger District of Custer National Forest, said Laurie Walters-Clark, on-scene coordinator of the project. In the 1950s, uranium mining claims were filed on the 65,000 acres of the North Cave Hills, South Cave Hills and Slim Buttes areas. By 1965, the mining companies had left.
In 1989, the Forest Service built five catch basins to trap sediment washing down from the former mine sites. By the next year, the Forest Service removed more than 6,700 cubic yards of sediment from the basins. With an estimated $2 million price tag, Forest Service officials decided against further reclamation efforts. Later soil testing showed the bluffs as sources of hazardous substances.
The Forest Service is taking public comment on its plan and will hold public meetings to explain the clean up measures that were chosen, Walters-Clark said. (Aberdeen News July 21, 2005)

> See also: Riley Pass Abandoned Uranium Mines external link (U.S. Forest Service - Custer National Forest)

Group calls for action on abandoned uranium mines

Uranium mines in northwestern South Dakota that were abandoned decades ago without being cleaned up pose health threats and other problems, residents and others say.
Defenders of the Black Hills external link, a group of volunteers that works to ensure that the United States government upholds the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868, sponsored a meeting on Feb. 26, 2005, to learn more about the mines. The mines are located in the Cave Hills area northwest of Buffalo in Harding County, considered sacred by many American Indians. They are located on public lands managed by the Custer National Forest external link.
Beginning in the late 1940s, more than 200 uranium mines were dug in South Dakota. The Cave Hills area contains 27 which were abandoned by the companies that originally dug them. They have been polluting the air, land and water for the past 50 to 60 years, members of the group said. (Aberdeen News Feb. 27, 2005; Defenders of the Black Hills)

> See also: Study of abandoned uranium mining impacts on private lands surrounding the North Cave Hills, South Dakota external link (South Dakota School of Mines & Technology)
> See also Myspace discussion group: Defenders of the Black Hills external link


Tennesee Valley Authority Edgemont site, South Dakota

NRC Docket No. 40-1341 (TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY, CHATTANOOGA, TN)
NRC Material License No. SUA-816

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Edgemont site external link

License Termination

On June 27, 1996, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff terminated the site-specific license for the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) Edgemont, South Dakota uranium mill tailings site. This is the first license terminated for a Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act, Title II facility.
> View NRC press release No. 96-92 external link
> See also Notice in Federal Register Vol.61 p. 35272 (July 5, 1996), download via GPO Access


TEXAS


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning


UTAH

> View extra page


WASHINGTON


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Midnite Mine and Ford Uranium Mill and Tailings Reclamation (Washington)

> See: extra page


Western Nuclear, Inc., Sherwood uranium mill site, Wellpinit, Washington

Washington Department of Health License No.: WN-I0133-1

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Sherwood site external link

WA Dept. of Health and NRC terminate Sherwood license

The Sherwood uranium mill near Wellpinit, operated by Western Nuclear, Inc. from 1978 to 1984, on March 9, 2001, received license termination by the state Department of Health.
> View WA DOH release March 9, 2001 external link
On March 9, 2001, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concurred with the State of Washington’s decision to transfer the Sherwood Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (UMTRCA) Title II Site to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grand Junction Office (GJO) for long-term custody.
> View DOE GJO news release March 13, 2001 external link

Open questions related to proposed License Termination

"On June 21, 2000, staff from the Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards (FCSS) met with state of Washington personnel to determine if the Sherwood tailings embankment located near Spokane, Washington, should be classified as a dam under the Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety. Contractors from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) accompanied FCSS staff. If the structure meets the Federal definition for a dam, procedures for license termination and costs for long-term surveillance and monitoring may be affected.
Embankment design information was reviewed, and questions related to dam stability, liquefaction, and surface disruption from seismic events were discussed. A preliminary determination of the dam classification will be made, and the FERC report will identify additional information that may be required for the final assessment."
(NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending June 30, 2000)

Background documents are available through ADAMS external link.


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