HOME   WISE Uranium Project   >   Mining & Milling   >   Issues   >   Decommissioning USA   >   New Mexico   >

Decommissioning Projects - Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site, Cibola County, New Mexico, USA   flag

(last updated 29 Sep 2017)

See also:


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

NRC Docket No. 40-8903 (HOMESTAKE MINING CO , GRANTS, NM)
NRC Source Material License No. SUA-1471

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps
> View NRC Facility Info
> View EPA Region 6 site info
> Homestake Mining Company Superfund Site (NMED Ground Water Quality Bureau)

The Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance is a local community organization of residents concerned about groundwater contamination downstream from the Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site.

 

Field test of groundwater in situ treatment with phosphate injection at Grants uranium mill tailings pile shows promising results

Homestake Mining Company of California (HMC) is evaluating the potential for in-situ immobilization and treatment of uranium in alluvial groundwater using a tripolyphosphate (TPP) amendment at the Grants Reclamation Project, located in Grants, New Mexico.
In a large-scale field pilot test, uranium concentrations decreased from 2.01 mg/L to 0.135 mg/L (below the site standard of 0.16 mg/L) at 6 months post-injection, and uranium treatment remained steady at 0.149 mg/L at 9 months post-injection.
> Download: Expanded TPP pilot test in the alluvial aquifer, Summary Report, Grants Reclamation Project, Grants, New Mexico , October 3, 2016 (32.6MB PDF)

 

NRC issues Notice of Violation to Homestake for insufficient monitoring of radon emissions from Grants uranium mill tailings pile

During a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspection conducted from August 24-25, 2016, one violation of NRC requirements was identified.
[...] in August 2015, the licensee: Specifically, the average radon-222 release from the interim cover area of the large tailings pile was 50.04 pCi/m2s, an arithmetic mean radon flux that was greater than the 20 pCi/m2s requirement. Further, the licensee used data results that were greater than one year old in its 2015 radon flux calculation. In addition, the licensee collected only 64 measurements from the large tailings pile and 36 measurements from the small tailings pile; although, a minimum of 100 measurements were required for each tailings pile.
(NRC Inspection Report 040-08903/2016-001 and Notice of Violation, Apr. 20, 2017 )

 

NRC identifies five apparent violations with groundwater cleanup at Grants uranium mill tailings site

"The apparent violations include: (NRC letter to Homestake Mining Company of California, EA-16-114, Oct. 4, 2016)

On Mar. 28, 2017, NRC issued a confirmatory order to Homestake Mining Co.
> Download NRC release April 12, 2017 (PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 82, Number 63 (Tuesday, April 4, 2017) p. 16429-16435 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID NRC-2017-0087

On Sep. 15, 2017, Homestake submitted to the NRC a Root Cause Analysis Report (812kB PDF).

Impact of irrigation of waste waters at Grants uranium mill tailings site without NRC approval negligible, Homestake says: On Sep. 25, 2017, Homestake submitted to the NRC a Land Application Report (89.4MB PDF) assessing the impact of irrigation at the Grants reclamation project, finding "that the radiological dose to existing or future occupants of the land on and near the irrigation areas is extremely small - less than one percent respectively of the public dose limits given in 10 CFR 20.1301 and the average dose that the population receives from natural background and medical radiation exposures".

 

Group files objection against increased groundwater abstraction for remediation of groundwater contaminant plume at Grants uranium mill tailings site

Laura Watchempino, Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, acknowledged that an objection has been filed with the Office of the State Engineer concerning the Homestake Mining property north of Milan.
L-ACSE and the Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance are core groups of the Multi-Cultural Alliance for a Safe Environment. The BVDA is a group of citizens from neighboring communities located south and west of the Homestake Superfund site.
The objection was filed by the BVDA on June 1. It concerns the application by Homestake-Barrick Gold to increase its use of the San Andres-Glorieta Aquifer. The document is titled, "Objection to Homestake Mining Company of California Application for a Temporary Permit to Appropriate Ground Water in the Bluewater Basin, New Mexico and Request for Hearing." (Cibola Beacon July 10, 2015)

 

Homestake issues closure plan for irrigation areas used at Grants uranium mill site for disposal ("land application") of groundwater with elevated levels of uranium and selenium

This report presents the plan for the closure of the four irrigated fields supplied from ground water with modestly elevated levels of uranium and selenium. Following closure, the irrigation areas can be returned to previous land uses or such other uses as may be prescribed by deed restrictions and/or covenants.
Each analysis shows that the radiological dose to existing or future occupants of the land on and near the irrigation areas is extremely small (less than one percent) compared to the average dose that the population receives from natural background and medical exposures.
> Download Closure Plan for Land Application Areas , Dec. 2014 (23.4MB PDF)

 

Contaminants added to soil by irrigation at Grants reclamation site expected to migrate deeper almost unattenuated

Modeling performed for the period until the year 2100 showed that the contaminants uranium and selenium - added to soil by irrigation of waste water - will migrate downwards almost unattenuated: At the Section 34 Flood Irrigation Area, the peaks for uranium and selenium in soil solution are expected to migrate from approx. 6 feet depth to 10 feet depth with concentrations decreasing by only about one half, while, at the Section 28 Center Pivot Irrigation Area, the peaks will migrate from approx. 9 to 33 feet depth without any significant decrease in concentrations at all.
The current peak concentrations for uranium in soil solution are approx. 3.4 milligrams per litre at the Section 34 Flood Irrigation Area, and 1.2 milligrams per litre at the Section 28 Center Pivot Irrigation Area. For comparison, the EPA drinking water standard is 0.03 milligrams per litre.
> Download: Grants Reclamation Project - Evaluation of Years 2000 Through 2013 Irrigation with Alluvial Ground Water, March 2014: Part 1 (44.1MB PDF) · Part 2 (31.1MB PDF)

 

Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site ground water Discharge Permit modification and renewal

State issues draft discharge permit for Grants uranium mill site for comment: Homestake Mining Company of California (HMC) proposes to renew and modify the Discharge Permit for the treatment and discharge of up to 7,920,000 gallons per day (5,500 gpm) of contaminated fluids. The discharges are associated with ongoing ground water abatement activities for contamination originating from former uranium milling activities.
The modification includes increasing the discharge volume to 5500 gpm, among others. Contaminants associated with the discharge include nitrate, selenium, uranium, radium, chloride, sulfate, molybdenum, and total dissolved solids.
Prior to ruling on any proposed Discharge Permit or its modification, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) will allow thirty days after the date of publication of this notice to receive written comments and during which time a public hearing may be requested by any interested person, including the applicant.
> Download Public Notice Dec. 20, 2013 (54k PDF)
> Download Draft Ground Water Discharge Permit DP-200 Renewal and Modification (671k PDF)

On Mar. 12, 2014, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) scheduled a public hearing to consider the proposed approval of a ground water Discharge Permit DP-200 modification and renewal. The hearing begins on April 29, 2014.
> Download Public Notice Mar. 17, 2014 (455k PDF)
> View/Download documents from Homestake Mining Company Discharge Permit DP-200 Administrative Record

State approves modified discharge permit for Grants uranium mill site: New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Secretary Ryan Flynn signed off on Homestake's permit application. Community members have opposed the renewal of Homestake's groundwater discharge permit and have repeatedly advocated for relocating the tailings pile.
"We are disappointed that NMED continues to allow Homestake-Barrick Gold to operate under cleanup standards that do not reflect the quality of water we had before their unlined tailings piles contaminated our aquifers. And we are disappointed that Homestake-Barrick Gold will be allowed to continue to experiment with unproven technologies at our site," commented Candace Head-Dylla, Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance (BVDA), via email. (Cibola Beacon Sep. 23, 2014)

 

Homestake requests change of radon background monitoring location at former Grants uranium mill site

By letter dated Sep. 23, 2013, Homestake Mining Co. requested a license amendment to relocate the background monitoring locations for radon-222 in air at its Grants site, as "radon-222 concentrations in air measured at monitoring location HMC-16, the site's current background location, are not the best representation of the background condition for the site."
Not surprisingly, radon concentrations at the proposed replacement monitoring location HMC-1Off are up to 70% higher than at the current one.
NRC offers an opportunity to request a hearing and to petition for leave to intervene on Homestake request to change radon background monitoring location at former Grants uranium mill site: A request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene must be filed by December 30, 2013.
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 209 (Tuesday, October 29, 2013) p. 64553-64555 (download fullt text )
> Access Docket ID NRC-2013-0138

Pueblo of Laguna resident receives award for role in vicinity property cleanup near former Homestake Grants uranium mill site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Amy Garcia of the Pueblo of Laguna as the winner of the national 2013 Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement Award. This annual award recognizes outstanding achievements in environmental protection and community-involvement leadership during Superfund cleanups.
Ms. Garcia's leadership has greatly helped EPA's cleanup of the Grants Mining District, an area about 70 miles west of Albuquerque where contamination from former uranium mining is common. The affected area includes not only former mines but many private homes as well. In order to clean up these homes, EPA needed to obtain access agreements from residents.
Ms. Garcia was instrumental in helping EPA obtain access to start cleaning up the contamination on more than 500 residential properties in the Pueblo of Laguna villages. She ensured EPA and its contractors worked in a manner consistent with tribal customs, protocols and procedures. (EPA Region 6 Aug. 21, 2013)

Residents demand EPA action over cancer risk from Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site

A federal agency needs to either move the tailings from an abandoned uranium mill near Milan or relocate the owners of about 75 nearby homes, the residents told a top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official on Tuesday (June 18).
Residents told Ron Curry, EPA's Region 6 administrator, that a cluster of cancer cases in subdivisions near the Homestake Mining Co. uranium mill show a need for immediate action by the agency. They pointed to a draft EPA report published this month showing that residents near the mill face a cancer risk 18 times higher than that considered acceptable by the EPA. Curry met with homeowners on Tuesday at the home of Jonnie and Milt Head, who live about 2,000 feet southwest of a mile-long tailings pile left by milling operations at the site from 1958 to 1990. (Albuquerque Journal June 19, 2013)

EPA issues initial draft Human Health Risk Assessment report prepared for the Homestake Mining Company Site

On April 4, 2013, EPA Region 6 announced the completion of the initial draft Human Health Risk Assessment Report for the Homestake Mining Company Superfund Site in Cibola County, New Mexico. The EPA expects to submit a final draft in May 2013 and will allow an additional comment period at that time.
> Download: Initial draft Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) report for the Homestake Mining Company Superfund Site, Feb. 2013 (EPA Region 6)
The report calculates an excess lifetime cancer risk of 5.6 · 10-4 above background for residents living near the site. The risk is mostly from inhalation of outdoor radon and its progeny.
For comparison, using the computer model RESRAD , the report calculates an excess dose of 46.1 mrem/year [0.461 mSv/y], resulting in an excess lifetime cancer risk of 8.3 · 10-4.

Decommissioning and Reclamation Plan Update released for Grants uranium mill tailings pile

NRC announces opportunity to request a hearing and to petition for leave to intervene on Decommissioning and Reclamation Plan Update for Grants uranium mill tailings pile:
A request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene must be filed by August 26, 2013.
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 124 (Thursday, June 27, 2013) p. 38736-38739 (download full text )
> Download: Decommissioning and Reclamation Plan Update 2013, SUA-1471, April 2013: Part 1 · Part 2 (Figures) · Part 3 (Figures, contd.) · Part 4 (Appendices)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2013-0138

Homestake presents evaluation of hypothetical relocation of Grants uranium mill tailings pile

On Dec. 7, 2012, NRC released a report prepared by Tetratech on behalf of Homestake Mining Co evaluating a hypothetical relocation of the large uranium mill tailings pile at Grants, New Mexico. The report explores costs and impacts of an assumed transport of the 20 million short ton pile over a distance of 30 miles to an unidentified disposal site. Depending on the transport option (truck, rail, or pipeline), a relocation cost in the $1.75 - 2.14 billion range would be expected, while continued on-site remediation would cost $52.3 million.
> Screening Level Evaluation of an Off-site Relocation of the Large Tailings Pile Homestake Mining Company Grants Site, June 2012 (4.7MB PDF)

Radon flux from top cover of Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings pile exceeded 20 pCi/m2s standard in 6 of 7 years

The annual mean radon flux sampled at 100 locations on top of the cover of the Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings pile during the years 2003 - 2009 exceeded the 20 pCi/m2s standard in each year except for 2008.
Source: Analysis of Mill Tailings Cover Performance, by Stuart Stothoff, Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses, San Antonio, Texas, August 2012 (20.3MB PDF) (see Fig. 4-3)
[The 20 pCi/m2s standard is only met by averaging over the top cover and the rock-covered side slopes of the pile. But in 2006, even the averaged flux exceeded the standard, see below.]

NRC releases Homestake's updated corrective action plan for Grants uranium mill tailings site

> Download Grants Reclamation Project Updated Corrective Action Plan, March 2012 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML120890113)

EPA and NRC at odds over reclamation of Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site

In spite of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 1993, the disagreement between EPA and NRC over the reclamation of the Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site has deepened with NRC dismissing all assertions made by EPA, in particular about excessive radon releases from the site. NRC claims that the standards used by EPA are not applicable to the site.
> Download NRC letter to EPA, Oct. 3, 2011 (PDF)
> Download EPA letter to NRC, July 8, 2011 (PDF)

Homestake requests permission for continued crop irrigation at Grants tailings site with water heavily exceeding drinking water standards for selenium and uranium

By letter dated Jan. 17, 2011, Homestake Mining Company of California requested temporary NRC permission to conduct crop irrigation during the 2011 field season as part of the ongoing ground water remediation / restoration activities at the Grants Reclamation Project.
According to Homestake, "The average concentration levels in the irrigation water will not exceed the following limits (mg/l):
Selenium = 0.1, Uranium = 0.16, TDS = 2000 and Sulfate = 900."
According to 40 CFR 141/143, the national drinking water standards are (mg/l):
Selenium = 0.05, Uranium = 0.03, TDS = 500 and Sulfate = 250.

> Download report: Evaluation of years 2000 through 2010 irrigation with alluvial ground water, Homestake Mining Co, January 2011: Part 1 (39.9MB PDF) · Part 2 (24.5MB PDF)

Review report identifies numerous deficiences with ongoing groundwater cleanup at Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site

> Download Focused Review of Specific Remediation Issues, An Addendum to the Remediation System Evaluation for the Homestake Mining Company Superfund Site, New Mexico, Dec. 23, 2010 (17.2MB PDF - NMED GWQB)

Homestake to repair radon barrier / rock cover on sideslope of Grants tailings pile after high rainfall events

On Sep. 23, 2010, Homestake advised NRC of its plans to repair/restore three water eroded areas of the radon barrier that were created as a result of recent high rainfall events at the site. Water runoff from the top of the pile was preferentially directed to three areas on the top of the south side of the large tailings pile. The pooled water spilled over temporary berms that had been constructed to direct the water to collection drain points. The three eroded areas are a few feet across and up to 30 feet long. No uranium mill tailings have been exposed based on radiological surveys that we have performed.

Study finds no increase in cancer incidence among residents at former Homestake Grants uranium mines and mill other than that attributed to mine work

[...] The present study evaluates cancer mortality during 1950-2004 and cancer incidence during 1982-2004 among county residents. [...] The total numbers of cancer deaths and incident cancers were close to that expected. Lung cancer mortality and incidence were significantly increased among men but not women. Similarly, among the population of the three census tracts near the Grants Uranium Mill, lung cancer mortality was significantly elevated among men but not women. Except for an elevation in mortality for stomach cancer among women, which declined over the 55-year observation period, no significant increases in SMRs or SIRs for 22 other caners were found.
Although etiological inferences cannot be drawn from these ecological data, the excesses of lung cancer among men seem likely to be due to previously reported risks among underground miners from exposure to radon gas and its decay products. Smoking, socioeconomic factors or ethnicity may also have contributed to the lung cancer excesses observed in our study. The stomach cancer increase was highest before the uranium mill began operation and then decreased to normal levels.
With the exception of male lung cancer, this study provides no clear or consistent evidence that the operation of uranium mills and mines adversely affected cancer incidence or mortality of county residents.

Boice JD, Mumma MT, Blot WJ: Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Populations Living Near Uranium Milling and Mining Operations in Grants, New Mexico, 1950-2004, in: Radiation Research, Vol. 174, No. 5, Nov. 2010, p.624-636 (ahead of print, Sep. 13, 2010)

Homestake tailings evaporation pond breaches during heavy rains

Homestake Mining Co. is in the process of repairing the south slope of its small tailings pile and berms damaged Sunday (July 25) during heavy rains, and an official from New Mexico Environment Department is headed to the former uranium mill site Wednesday (July 28) to take gamma radiation readings below the tailings pile. Water flowed out of the evaporation pond after nearly 2 inches of rain caused a breach. (Gallup Independent July 28, 2010)

Study finds increased mortality among Grants underground uranium miners, but not among uranium mill workers

> See here

NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for third evaporation pond at former Homestake Grants uranium mill site

Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact Related to the Issuance of a License Amendment for Construction of a Third Evaporation Pond, Homestake Mining Company of California Grants, New Mexico Project

Federal Register: August 7, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 153) p. 46042-46054 (download full text )
> Download Environmental Assessment, July 2008 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML080920594)
> Download Technical Evaluation Report, June 26, 2008 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML080920562)

Radon release rate from reclaimed Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site exceeds standard

On Feb. 23, 2007, Homestake notified the NRC that "the results of the 2006 annual radon flux survey completed on the Large Tailing Pile (LTP) and Small Tailings Pile (STP) at the Grants Reclamation Project site indicate that the average radon flux for the Large Tailings Pile (20.6 pCi/M2s) was very slightly above the 20 pCi/M2s criteria for radon flux in 10 CFR 40 Appendix A."

On July 12, 2007, Homestake notified the NRC that "Approximately 7,200 cubic yards of soil cover material were placed on the LTP, at three sample location areas. Results of the re-sampling of flux levels on these areas indicate that the additional soil cover was effective; the recalculated average flux level was reduced to an 18.1 pCi/M2s average for the LTP."

 

Elevated contaminant concentrations in residential wells near Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site

Homestake offers to plug [!] contaminated private wells near Grants uranium mill tailings site

Sampling of water from wells in the vicinity of the former Homestake mill site has in several instances detected concentrations in excess of established drinking water standards for uranium, selenium, nitrate, molybdenum, vanadium, sulfate, chloride, total dissolved solids (TDS), pH, gross alpha, radium-226, radium-228, and thorium-230. Even though there is no known connection to its uranium mining or milling operations or its ongoing remedial actions, Homestake Mining Company of California (HMC) has volunteered to plug and abandon the wells at no cost to owners of property in an Area of Concern. [...] (Cibola County Beacon June 25, 2010)

Well water near Homestake Grants uranium mill site poses no apparent public health hazard, ATSDR report says

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has completed its health consultation report for water in private wells near the Homestake Mining Company Mill site in Milan, New Mexico. According to the final report, no apparent public health hazard exists from well water near the site. ATSDR says test results show that wells being used as a drinking water source do not contain levels of contamination known to be high enough to cause adverse health effects. However, ATSDR says a few wells that are not being used for drinking water have uranium concentrations well above the background concentration, and these wells should continue not to be used.
> View ATSDR release June 26, 2009
> Download Health consultation for the Homestake Mining Company Mill site, June 26, 2009 (1.8M PDF - ATSDR)

Home owners near former Homestake Grants uranium mill site being offered alternate drinking water supply

After several years of complaints about contaminated drinking water, the owners of 16 residences near the Homestake Mill Superfund site are being offered free connections to the village of Milan's water system. New Mexico Environment Department and Homestake Mining Co. of California have entered into a memorandum of agreement in which the company voluntarily agreed to connect residents. (Gallup Independent Jan. 22, 2009)

> Download Agreement between NMED and Homestake Mining Company (2M PDF - NMED)

Study finds many residential wells near Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site exceed drinking water standards

From 2005 through 2007, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed a survey and sampling of private wells located in the vicinity of the Homestake Uranium Mill Superfund Site. Fifty-seven domestic wells were sampled during this investigation. > Download Summary Report on 2005-2007 residential well sampling within the vicinity of the Homestake Mining Company Uranium Mill Superfund Site, July 2008 (10.7MB PDF - NMED GWQB)

ATSDR report finds Homestake uranium mill site is a public health hazard (New Mexico)

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a Public Health Consultation that concluded the Homestake Mining Company Mill Site in Milan (Cibola County), New Mexico is a public health hazard for the contaminant concentrations found in private wells in the area:
"Sampling results from the past three years indicate that uranium and selenium concentrations are above their respective drinking water standard and will most likely be above them upon completion of the remedial actions. Because exposure is still possible in some of the private wells, ATSDR has categorized the site as a public health hazard."
The report is now available for public review; the public comment period was extended through July 3, 2008.

> View ATSDR release May 29, 2008
> Download Health Consultation, Homestake Mining Company Mill Site, Milan, Cibola County, New Mexico, May 19, 2008 (1.7MB PDF - EPA Region 6)

Is this true, Bill?

"Mr. Von Till III of the NRC comes to our community from time to time, treats us like idiots and gives us a litany of reasons why the NRC cannot help us."
(from letter by Milton Head, President Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance, and others, to Senator Jeff Bingaman, Oct. 13, 2007, regarding groundwater contamination at Homestake uranium mill tailings pile, ADAMS Acc. No. ML073111388 )

Commmunity organization calls for groundwater restoration at Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site

Residents living downstream from the Homestake Grants uranium mill tailings site have formed the Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance to emphasize their demand for a restoration of the contaminated groundwater in the area.

State agency unable to raise funds for well testing required to prove elevated contaminant concentrations in residential wells near Grants are attributable to former uranium mining activities

In a meeting held May 30, 2007, on water contamination caused by a decade of uranium mining in northern New Mexico, New Mexico Environment Department officials said that they are in a Catch-22 situation with the Environmental Protection Agency, uranium companies and politicians. They say they are doing everything they can to help, but that there is little to do when funding is drying up to test the wells they need to test before approaching any of the uranium mines where they can lay the blame.
According to miners and their families, Homestake had been storing wastewater from the processing mill in an unlined pond, which old-timers say was directly above the Alluvial aquifer. They think it seeped into the various aquifer bands, which means it had infiltrated the water system used for drinking for both livestock and human consumption. (Cibola County Beacon May 31, 2007)

Elevated contaminant concentrations found in residential wells near Grants uranium mill tailings site

Results of groundwater sampling conducted in September 2005 by New Mexico Environment Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show contaminants in 33 of 34 residential wells sampled, including elevated levels of uranium in 21 of those wells.
Where the contamination is coming from is debatable. Gaps in data from the Homestake Mine have left state and federal regulators with a difficult task in pinpointing just how the contaminants got there. Jerry Schoeppner of NMED said the lack of documentation makes it more difficult to determine which contamination is background, which is coming from Homestake, and which is coming from other nearby uranium operations. (Gallup Independent March 9, 2006)

 

Residents living near former Grants uranium mill seek damages from Homestake

On September 8, 2004, Homestake Mining Company of California / Homestake Mining Company were served with a Complaint by 26 current or former residents of a rural area near the former Grants Uranium Mill. The plaintiffs allege that they have suffered a "variety of physical, emotional and financial injuries" as a result of exposure to radioactive and other hazardous substances. The Complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico seeks an unspecified amount of damages. (Barrick Gold Corp. Oct. 26, 2004)
(Homestake merged with Barrick Gold Corp. in 2001.)

Homestake granted 9-year extension of reclamation milestones for Grants uranium mill tailings site

By letter dated Oct. 28, 2003, Homestake requested from NRC approval for the extension of various reclamation milestones for cover placement at its Grants uranium mill tailings site. A request for a hearing had to be filed within 30 days of December 22, 2003.
Federal Register: December 22, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 245) p. 71171-71172 (download full text )

No request for a hearing was received within the 30 day requirement, and the requested license amendment was issued on Feb. 6, 2004.

Homestake requests relaxed groundwater standards for Grants uranium mill tailings site

By letter dated December 15, 2001, Homestake requested from NRC to adjust the groundwater site standards for the Grants uranium mill tailings site. Homestake claims that the current site standards for uranium (0.04 mg/L), selenium (0.01 mg/L), and molybdenum (0.03 mg/L) are lower than the 95% background levels of 0.15, 0.27, and 0.05 mg/L, respectively.

During a meeting held in Grants on Oct. 20, 2005, residents expressed concern on the proposed relaxation of groundwater standards. Community members present at the meeting said they could not understand why the background water samples were being taken in an area where pollutants already existed from other mines. (Cibola County Beacon Oct. 25, 2005; NRC Meeting Report Oct. 31, 2005, ML053000560 )

In May 2006, NRC issued an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for the requested amendment of groundwater site standards:
Environmental Assessment related to issuance of a license amendment for Homestake Mining Company of California Grants, New Mexico project Source Materials License SUA-1471, Docket No. 40-8903 (ADAMS ML061450327)

Federal Register: June 22, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 120) p. 35956-35957 (Download full text )

The requested license amendment was issued by NRC on July 10, 2006.

Biological groundwater treatment pilot tests at Grants uranium mill tailings site

"1.0 GENERAL PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The project involves construction, startup, operation and monitoring of three pilot scale In-situ Anaerobic Biological Treatment Systems (ISABTS). Three sites are being tested to evaluate the operation and effectiveness of three differing methods for applying the ISABTS technology. The pilot scale test is being conducted subsequent to, and concurrently with, laboratory scale column testing that have proven to be highly successful.

2.0 PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES

The purpose of the in-situ treatment is to evaluate the effectiveness and economics of applying anaerobic biological treatment to permanently remove molybdenum, uranium, and selenium from solution in the local alluvial aquifer.

The objective of the project is to gather sufficient data to demonstrate whether the groundwater standards can be met using ISABTS. A further objective is to examine the logistics of applying the technology at a substantially larger scale than implemented in the laboratory. Ultimately, should the testing demonstrate process success, logistical feasibility and economic viability, a full scale treatment system may be considered." (from Homestake letter to NMED, August 2, 2000)

Background documents are available through ADAMS .

 


> View background information on Uranium Mill Tailings Management - USA

HOME   WISE Uranium Project   >   Mining & Milling   >   Issues   >   Decommissioning USA   >   New Mexico   >