Decommissioning Projects - New Mexico, USA
(last updated 16 May 2013)
> See also Issues for:
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> See also Data for:
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Old Mines and Decommissioning
> See also: New Mexico court rules uranium mines are covered by state law, ensuring cleanup
> See also: EMNRD Mining and Minerals Division, MARP - Pending Permit Applications
> See also: The Uranium Legacy: A Congressional Briefing Book, Compliments of the New Mexico Uranium Mining and Tailings Task Force, May 5-8, 2009 (3.9M PDF - powertechexposed.com)
> See also:
Abandoned or inactive uranium mines in New Mexico , by Orin J. Anderson, New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, Open-File Report 148, 1981, 778 p.
> See also:
Uranium Legacy and Development Sites In New Mexico and the Navajo Nation , Southwest Research and Information Center, February 26, 2013 (77k PDF)
EPA enters into agreement with Chevron to investigate soil contamination at Mariano Lake uranium mine site on the Navajo Reservation
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement with Chevron USA Inc. to investigate radium-contaminated soil at the Mariano Lake Mine site, a former uranium mine located on the Navajo Nation near Gallup, New Mexico.
Under the agreement, Chevron will conduct a radiological survey and sample radium-contaminated soil throughout the 31-acre Mariano Lake Mine site and surrounding area, including 10 residences and two nearby water wells. Chevron also agreed to pay EPA's oversight costs.
The Mariano Lake Mine site operated as a uranium ore mine from approximately 1977 to 1982, and includes one 500-foot deep shaft, waste piles, and several surface ponds.
(EPA Aug. 1, 2011)
Bill introduced in U.S. Senate to allow New Mexico to spend federal funds for cleanup of abandoned uranium mines
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today (May 5) introduced legislation that would allow New Mexico to spend federal funds to clean up abandoned uranium mines. U.S. Senator Tom Udall is a cosponsor.
Under the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program, the U.S. Department of the Interior is authorized to collect revenue from coal companies for a fund that cleans up abandoned mines. Each state receives a share of the AML fund, but the Interior Department currently restricts the ability of states to use some of that funding to clean up non-coal mines. As a result, New Mexico has not been able to focus the funding on one of its priorities – to clean up uranium mines.
Bingaman's legislation (S. 897 ) makes clear that those funds can be used for non-coal cleanup, paving the way for New Mexico to tap into its $21 million over the next few years to clean up abandoned uranium mines.
> View Bingaman release May 5, 2011
On July 14, 2011, Senator Jeff Bingaman announced that the legislation has been approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. That move clears the bill for full Senate consideration.
New Mexico, BLM team up to address abandoned mines
The Bureau of Land Management and the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department are teaming up to address abandoned mines around the state.
The BLM recently granted $988,000 to the state's abandoned mine land program to safeguard and remediate abandoned mines.
The state plans to use the money to develop an inventory of abandoned uranium mine sites. It also will be used for remedial reclamation of abandoned uranium mine sites in the Poison Canyon area northwest of Grants, and for safeguarding mines in the Cookes Peak area north of Deming.
It's estimated there are more than 15,000 abandoned mine hazards scattered throughout New Mexico.
(AP May 11, 2010)
State awards contract for assessment of some abandoned uranium mines
The Mining and Minerals Division awarded a contract to Intera Incorporated to assess over thirty-five abandoned uranium mines located throughout New Mexico on federal and private lands.
The abandoned uranium mines that will be addressed as part of this contract were part of the legacy of a uranium mining boom which took place during the 1940's, 50's and 60's before there were regulations requiring reclamation and clean-up.
(EMNRD Dec. 14, 2009)
Cleanup of San Mateo Uranium Mine (New Mexico)
Public comment invited on cleanup of San Mateo Uranium Mine:
The San Mateo Uranium Mine will soon undergo an environmental cleanup under the auspices of the Mount Taylor Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service.
According to a Forest Service statement, “[...] The recommended cleanup alternative is to consolidate waste rock piles and place them in an on-site repository. A geomembrane would be placed above the waste rock in the repository, covered with clean soil, re-vegetated and armored with rock”.
Cleanup costs will be underwritten by the current mine owners.
The original mining claims for the San Mateo Mine were filed in 1955 by Rare Metals Corp. and passed through several other corporations until the mine was purchased by United Nuclear Corp., which operated it until 1971.
(Cibola Beacon Nov. 19, 2009)
Public input and comments will be accepted until close of business on January 15, 2010.
> View U.S. Forest Service announcement Nov. 23, 2009
> Download Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA)
Cleanup of old San Mateo uranium mine nearing completion:
The remediation process, which began last August, is scheduled for completion next month.
The end result includes a 40-acre site surrounded by an eight-foot high chain link fence.
(Cibola Beacon Feb. 19, 2013)
Agencies start joint effort for assessments of legacy uranium mines and milling activities in the Grants Mineral Belt
On Oct. 20 agencies from the state, nation and tribes focused on some of what was left behind because of little regulation - abandoned mines and issues involving the environment, people's health and water.
The EPA is responsible for assembling a multi-agency five-year plan.
Components of the five-year plan are: assess and remediation of contaminated residential structures; water contamination sources assessment; assessment and remediation of abandoned area mines (130, according to the EPA) in the area; assessment and long term management of mills; and assess impact to human health and the environment.
The five-year plan is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2010, according to the EPA.
Bill Brancard of the state Mining and Minerals Division was also at the meeting. "In regard to the legacy," Brancard said, "there are 259 uranium mines in the state, 95 percent of them are within the Grants Mineral Belt. Some have been reclaimed, some not. There are 130 mines that we have no record of reclamation."
Kelly Gallagher from the state Department of Health informed attendees that a recent study done by her department indicated that there are several spots in the state that have a high level of uranium in their water and it is affecting person's kidneys. However, only 1,000 people were tested and no one within the Grants Mineral Belt.
(Cibola Beacon Oct. 22, 2009)
Region 6 of the U.S. Environmental Agency has issued a report on the community meeting held in Grants on Oct. 20, 2009, to address the environmental legacy from uranium mining and milling in the Grants Mineral Belt.
(Cibola Beacon Feb. 1, 2010)
> View EPA Region 6 Superfund Program: Grants Mining District, New Mexico
Multiple federal and state agencies and Tribes collaborated to compile a multi-year plan to address contamination from the legacy uranium milling and mining.
Written comments will be accepted on the Grants Mining District Draft Five-Year Plan through May 26, 2010.
New Mexico seeks federal help for cleanup of hundreds of abandoned uranium mines
New Mexico legislators are in Washington D.C. this week to press the federal government to help clean up hundreds of abandoned uranium mines that dot the state's landscape.
The trip comes on the heels of an appropriation of $150,000 included in this year's state budget to help complete the painstaking work of assessing the extent of the problem, said Bill Brancard, director of the state's Mining and Minerals Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.
So far, his agency has listed 259 mines that have reported uranium production at some point. And there may be many more than that, he said.
Of the 259 mines that reported uranium production to the state, 137 have no record of any kind of clean up or restoration work. Those mines are the targets of the assessment being undertaken by the mining and minerals agency.
(New Mexico Independent May 7, 2009)
Study: Increased likelihood of kidney disease and diabetes among people who live close to abandoned uranium mines
Dr. Johnnye Lewis , director of the Community Environmental Health Department in the College of Pharmacy at UNM's Health Sciences Center, is currently heading up an effort to assess the health impact of uranium mines in 20 chapters of the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation.
"Some of the mines don't even look like mines," Lewis explained. "You'd never know they're there or might not recognize them for what they are."
"No wonder then that people use abandoned ore in their homes, that kids swim in contaminated water or play around mine waste, or that people shelter livestock in abandoned mines," she added.
Lewis's team has only finished the first stage of the study, but initial findings show an increase in likelihood of kidney disease and diabetes among people who live close to mines, she said.
(New Mexico Independent May 7, 2009)
New Mexico warns well users within San Mateo Creek Basin of contamination
The New Mexico Environment Department advises people with private wells within the San Mateo Creek Basin in Cibola and McKinley counties that their water may contain contaminants from naturally-occurring ore deposits within the "Grants uranium belt" and from former uranium mine and mill processing of those deposits in the area. Well water in the area could exceed federal and state drinking water standards for several contaminants that could pose health problems for residents.
Contaminants may include chloride, gross alpha, lead, manganese, nitrate, pH, radium-226 and radium-228, selenium, sulfate, total dissolved solids and uranium. Other contaminants detected for which federal drinking water standards have not been established include, iron, molybdenum, thorium-230, and vanadium.
(NMED Jan. 8, 2009)
State awards contract for clean up of a few abandoned uranium mines
The Mining and Minerals Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department has awarded a contract to Golder Associates to initiate cleanup work at abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico. This project will involve a field assessment of over a dozen abandoned uranium mines northwest of Grants followed by the development and implementation of plans for the cleanup of these sites.
"Abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico, dating back to the 1950s, have left a legacy of dangerous mine openings and, in many cases, contaminated soils and water," stated Bill Brancard, Director of the Mining and Minerals Division.
The abandoned uranium mines that will be addressed, were part of the legacy of a uranium mining boom which took place during the 1950's, 60's and 70's before there were regulations requiring clean-up.
(NM EMNRD July 1, 2008)
New Mexico Governor vetoes bill on cleanup program for abandoned uranium mines
> View here
New Mexico House approves bill on cleanup program for abandoned uranium mines
> View here
Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps
EPA proposes to add Jackpile-Paguate uranium mine to National Priorities List of Superfund Sites
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine in Laguna Pueblo has been proposed to be added to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites, a list of sites that pose risks to people's health and the environment. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country.
About 40 miles west of Albuquerque in Cibola County, the mine lies in an area of canyons and arroyos near the village of Paguate. Anaconda Minerals Company operated the 7,868-acre [31.8 km2] site from 1953 to 1982, leaving open pits, waste dumps, and ore stockpiles. Contaminants found at the site include uranium, arsenic, barium, chromium, and lead. While previous attempts clean up the site have been made, an assessment in 2007 determined these were not enough.
The nearby Rio Paguate and Paguate Reservoir have shown elevated levels of isotopic uranium, which could affect cultural and ceremonial uses of these water bodies. Although the site had undergone reclamation previously, a 2007 report concluded that effort left several issues unaddressed.
(EPA March 13, 2012)
Comments must be submitted on or before May 14, 2012.
> Federal Register Volume 77, Number 51 (Thursday, March 15, 2012) p. 15344-15351 (download full text )
> View EPA Superfund · New Proposed NPL Sites
> View EPA Region 6
> Access Docket ID EPA-HQ-SFUND-2012-0069
> View extra page
> View Pending Mine Applications, Regular Existing: JJ No. 1 / L-Bar Mine (NM EMNRD)
State approves clean-up for closed JJ No.1/L-Bar uranium mine
The Mining and Minerals Division approved the reclamation plan for the closed uranium mine JJ No. 1/L-Bar Mine, once operated by Sohio Western Mining Company, now under the responsibility of Rio Tinto Energy of America, of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The JJ No.1/L-Bar is located in Cibola County, 3.5 miles southeast of Seboyeta, on the Cebolleta Land Grant. The inactive underground mine produced uranium from 1976 to 1981. Most of the mine was reclaimed in 1986-87, however eleven vent shafts remained. Final reclamation of the mine will involve the closure of the eleven vent shafts, regrading, topsoil application and revegetation. This will permanently stabilize the surface and eliminate any potential hazards to humans or wildlife. Rio Tinto will start reclaiming the site this during the fall of 2009.
> Download EMNRD release Oct. 30, 2009 (PDF)
EMNRD releases SOHIO Western Mining Co.'s revised closeout plant for the JJ No.1/L-Bar Mine
JJ No. 1 Mine - SOHIO Western Mining Co. c/o Kennecott Energy Co., Permit CI007RE Closeout Plan Documentation-Revision 1 (8/30/2007)
> View Mining Act Reclamation Program (MARP) New Permit Applications and Closeout Plans
Investigation into groundwater contamination at former JJ Number 1 / L-Bar Mine
Sohio Western Mining Company (SWMC) -- which operated the JJ Number 1/L-Bar Mine about 2 miles north of Laguna Pueblo -- submitted a proposal to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to conduct a ground water investigation at the former mine.
The Stage 1 abatement plan consists of assessing ground water quality at the mine site. NMED requires the proposed activities at the site because past ground water sampling showed that concentrations of groundwater exceed New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission standards for one or more of the following parameters: uranium, radium, manganese, iron, total dissolved solids, sulfate, and pH. There has been limited site assessment work conducted at the former mine.
The SWMC mine, which is about 4 miles southeast of Seboyeta and two miles northeast of Moquino, operated from 1976 to 1981 in conjunction with the L-Bar uranium mill and associated mill tailings facility. The mine closed between 1986 and 1987.
(NMED Aug. 15, 2006)
NRC Docket No. 40-8904 (SOHIO WESTERN MINING CO., SALT LAKE CITY, UT)
NRC Material License No. SUA-1472
> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: L-Bar site
Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps
Erosion found at Sohio L-Bar uranium mill tailings site
On May 6, 2009, NRC staff visited the L-Bar Disposal Site to review the erosion that had recently occurred at the site.
It appeared that the major cause of the excess erosion was the presence of easily eroded spoil material that had been placed by the L-Bar licensee directly into the
channel and over-bank area of a major gully just upstream of the sedimentation basin.
The placement of this material and its high potential for erosion were not known and
considered when the license was terminated and the site was turned over to DOE.
During recent storms, new gullies had formed, deepened, and widened in that area,
causing excess sediment to build up in the sedimentation basin.
(NRC site visit report June 29, 2009)
NRC terminates license for Sohio L-Bar uranium mill tailings site
Establishment of the U.S. Department of Energy as the Long-Term
Custodian of the L-Bar Uranium Mill Tailings Site Near Seboyeta, NM,
and Termination of the Sohio Western Mining Company Source Materials
License for the L-Bar Site
Federal Register: November 15, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 219) p. 65661 (download full text )
> See also DOE release Dec. 21, 2004 (PDF)
Relaxed groundwater standards
Federal Register March 3, 1999 (Vol. 64, No. 41), p. 10331-10332 (download full notice ):
"SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) proposes to amend Sohio Western Mining Company's
(Sohio's) Source Material License SUA-1472, to allow alternate
concentration limits (ACLs) for ground water hazardous constituents at
the L-Bar uranium mill site in Cibola County, New Mexico. An
Environmental Assessment (EA) was performed by the NRC staff in
accordance with the requirements of 10 CFR Part 51. The conclusion of
the EA was a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for this
The ACLs concern ground water constituents selenium and uranium.
A request for hearing must be filed within 30 days from March 3, 1999.
"Meeting to Discuss Sedimentation at the Sohio Western L-Bar Uranium Mill Tailings Site
On December 10, 1998, Division of Waste Management staff participated in a
Meeting requested by representatives of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
licensee, Sohio Western Mining Company (Sohio), to discuss methods of
resolution of staff concerns related to observed degradation of erosion
protection features at the L-Bar uranium mill tailings disposal site,
located in New Mexico. Before staff can conclude that reclamation at the
L-Bar site is complete and terminate the license, Sohio must resolve
staff's concerns related to degradation. The announced public Meeting was
held at NRC Headquarters, and was attended by NRC staff and Sohio
representatives. Sohio presented two alternatives for mitigating the
buildup of sedimentation, both of which appear acceptable to the staff. The
licensee proposed to submit the necessary engineering plans for its
preferred alternative in early 1999. Pending staff approval, Sohio plans to
commence construction of a new erosion protection channel in fiscal year
1999." (NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending December 18, 1998)
"Meeting on Sedimentation at L-Bar Uranium Mill Tailings Site
On October 15, 1998, staff from the Division of Waste Management met with
staff from Sohio Western, the licensee for the L-Bar site, to discuss
possible buildup of sedimentation in the site runoff diversion channels.
The Meeting took Place in New Mexico, and involved visiting several sites
discussed in a recent report submitted by Sohio Western consultants as
analogs of the L-Bar site to estimate the quantity of sediment expected to
be deposited yearly in the diversion channels. As a follow up to the
Meeting with the licensee, staff will issue a review of the analog report.
The Sohio Western representative requested that the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission provide its review as soon as possible to allow Sohio Western
Time to plan any necessary construction for the 1999 construction season,
beginning in April 1999."
(U.S. NRC Weekly Information Report for the week ending October 23, 1998)
"Visit to Sohio L-Bar Uranium Recovery Site
On February 11, 1998, staff from the Division of Waste
Management and its Colorado State University Contractor visited
the Sohio L-Bar, New Mexico, site to discuss the licensee's
approach to dealing with site degradation due to sedimentation
of erosion protection channels. The L-Bar site is one of the
eight old uranium mill tailings sites where previously-approved
reclamation plans may not meet current staff guidance for
erosion protection. For these sites, the Commission determined
that the licensees should not be required to redesign to meet
current criteria unless the staff identified a situation where
significant degradation had occurred. The staff observed
trenching and trench logging activities conducted by the
licensee to ascertain the amount of sediment deposited in
drainage channels at the site since construction in 1989. The
licensee proposes to provide the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
with a report of the results of its findings, including a plan
of action to correct and prevent future degradation of the
reclaimed tailings, in early March."
(U.S. NRC Weekly Information Report for the week ending February
NRC Docket No. 40-8902 (ATLANTIC RICHFIELD CO., GRANTS, NM)
NRC Material License No. SUA-1470
> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Bluewater site
Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps
Contaminated San Andres/Glorieta aquifer groundwater is leaving the former Bluewater uranium mill site
"Bedrock wells 11(SG), 13(SG), 14(SG), 15(SG), 16(SG), and 18(SG) were installed in summer 2012; [...] uranium concentrations in downgradient wells 13(SG) [0.116 mg/L] and 18(SG) [0.207 mg/L], located along the site boundary, substantially exceed the UMTRCA MCL. Therefore, contaminated San Andres/Glorieta aquifer groundwater is leaving the site" [emphasis added]
(Data Validation Package, November 2012 Water Sampling at the Bluewater, New Mexico, Disposal Site, February 2013, LMS/BLU/S01112)
"[...] the uranium concentrations in downgradient wells 13(SG) [0.106 mg/L] and 18(SG) [0.212 mg/L], located along the site boundary, substantially exceed the UMTRCA MCL. Therefore, contaminated San Andres/Glorieta aquifer groundwater is leaving the site [...]." [emphasis added]
(Data Validation Package, January 2013 Groundwater Sampling at the Bluewater, New Mexico, Disposal Site, April 2013, LMS/BLU/S00113)
Contaminated alluvial groundwater is "apparently" leaving the former Bluewater uranium mill site
"New alluvium well 21(M) is located adjacent to the southern site boundary [...]. The concentrations in the new wells are below their respective ACLs (Table 1-4). However, the uranium concentration [of 0.13 mg/L] in well 21(M) exceeded the UMTRCA MCL of 0.044 mg/L, and the selenium concentration was equal to the MCL of 0.01 mg/L (40 CFR 192, Table 1). Based on the elevated uranium concentration for this single sampling event, it is possible that contaminated groundwater is leaving the site." [emphasis added]
(2011 Annual Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title II Disposal Sites, December 2011)
"The uranium concentrations in the new wells are below the ACL (Table 1–4). However, the uranium concentrations in both wells, shown in Figure 1–3, continue to exceed the UMTRCA MCL of 0.044 mg/L (40 CFR 192, Table 1). Based on the elevated uranium concentration in well 21(M), contaminated groundwater is apparently leaving the site." [emphasis added]
(2012 Annual Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title II Disposal Sites, November 2012)
Uranium concentrations in groundwater at former Bluewater mill site exceed standard
On March 1, 2011, U.S. DOE issued to NRC a Notification of Alternate Concentration Limit Exceedance at the Bluewater, New Mexico, UMTRCA Title II Disposal Site.
The uranium concentration for a sample collected on November 9, 2010, was 0.557 mg/L, while the alternate concentration limit (ACL) is 0.44 milligrams per liter (mg/L).
On Aug. 31, 2011, U.S. DOE provided a Proposed Evaluative Monitoring Work Plan to determine the cause of the uranium Alternate Concentration Limit exceedance.
According to the 2011 Annual Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title II Disposal Sites, the uranium concentration for the confirmatory sample collected in April 2011 was 0.525 mg/L, and the July 2011 result was 0.530 mg/L.
According to the 2012 Annual Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title II Disposal Sites, the uranium concentration for the sample collected in May 2012 had increased further to 0.55 mg/L.
Uranium concentrations in monitoring well at former Bluewater mill site expected to exceed standard soon
"The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been sampling the point-of-compliance (POC) monitoring wells at the Bluewater, New Mexico, disposal site since 1999 in accordance with the Long-Term Surveillance Plan. [...] To date, no monitored constituents have exceeded an approved alternate concentration limit (ACL).
However, uranium concentrations in the alluvium POC well T(M) have been trending upward and have increased substantially in the past couple of years [...]. The most recent result from a sample collected on November 10, 2009, was 0.41 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The trend suggests that the ACL of 0.44 mg/L may be exceeded in the very near future."
DOE "strongly suspects" that a nearby production well used for Homestake's Grants uranium mill tailings reclamation project is negatively impacting the groundwater system at the Bluewater site.
> Download DOE letter to NRC, May 26, 2010 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML101620158)
(Oct.3, 1997) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted the
request of Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) to terminate its license for a uranium mill site near Grants, New Mexico, and has
placed the site under the custody and long-term care of the Department of Energy, which is now the licensee for the site.
> View NRC press release No. 97-146
> See also Notice in
Federal Register Vol.62 p. 51914 (Oct. 3, 1997), (Notice of placing the Bluewater uranium mill and tailings disposal site near Grants, New Mexico, in the custody and long-term care of the U.S. Department of Energy under the general licensing provisions of 10 CFR part 40.28; and notice of opportunity for a hearing.)
> View extra page
Section 27 Mine: Permit MK005RE
North East Church Rock Mine: Permit MK004R
Aerial View: Google Maps · MSRMaps
> View Pending Mine Applications, Regular Existing: Northeast Church Rock Mine (NM EMNRD)
Cleanup of contaminated soil begins near abandoned Northeast Church Rock and Quivira Mines
This month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is beginning three uranium mine clean up actions on the Navajo Nation. [...]
North of Church Rock, EPA will oversee work by General Electric/United Nuclear Corporation and Rio Algom Mining to clean up soils and a road located near the Northeast Church Rock Mine, the largest underground uranium mine in the U.S, and the Quivira mine which is located approximately 1/4 mile to the northeast. The UNC mine was operated from 1967 to 1984 and produced approximately 9.8 million pounds of uranium [3,769 t U]. The Quivira Mine was operated between 1976 and 1985 and produced 3.1 million pounds of uranium [1,192 t U]. This fall's $4 million dollar work at the two areas near the Northeast Church Rock and Quivira mines precedes a larger $44 million cleanup of the Northeast Church Rock Mine expected to begin in 2016, contingent upon federal agency approvals.
(EPA Region 9, Sep. 18, 2012)
> See also: Disposal of contaminated soil from the North East Church Rock Mine site on top of the existing Church Rock uranium mill tailings disposal cell
EPA announces Proposed Plan for relocation of contaminated soil from Northeast Church Rock Mine to Church Rock tailings site
The relocation of 1 million cubic yards of contaminated soil from the Northeast Church Rock Mine site to the Church Rock tailings site would cost US$ 41.5 million and take 4 years.
Submit comments by September 21, 2012.
> Download Surface Soil Operable Unit Proposed Plan, United Nuclear Corporation Superfund Site, July 20, 2012 (1.2M PDF - EPA Region 6)
EPA announces plan to clean up Northeast Church Rock Mine - largest abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation
On Sep. 29, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it has approved a plan and committed to clean up the Northeast Church Rock Mine, the largest and highest priority uranium mine on the Navajo Nation.
The cleanup will include removal of approximately 1.4 million short tons of radium and uranium contaminated soil. The cleanup will place the contaminated soil in a lined, capped facility ... on top of the existing Church Rock uranium mill tailings disposal cell. The multi-year cleanup will be conducted in several phases.
The cleanup will allow unrestricted surface use of the mine site for grazing and housing.
(EPA Sep. 29, 2011)
> View Addressing Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation: Northeast Church Rock Mine (NECR) (EPA Region 9 Superfund)
State approves clean-up for closed Section 27 uranium mine
The Mining and Minerals Division approved the reclamation plan for the closed uranium mine Section 27 Mine, once operated by the United Nuclear Corporation of Gallup, New Mexico.
The Section 27 Mine is located in McKinley County, 35 miles north of Grants, in the Ambrosia Lake District. The inactive, former underground uranium mine includes about nine acres of surface disturbance that requires reclamation including two mine shafts, three vent holes, and a number of non-economic ore piles, waste rock piles and topsoil stockpiles. The mine operated during the early to mid 1970's and has been inactive since 1977. United Nuclear Corporation plans to perform the reclamation during 2010. The reclamation plan will include the sealing of the shafts and vent holes, encapsulation of non-economic ore piles, regrading and covering old rock piles with three feet of topsoil, followed by revegetation with native plants, and addressing radiation hazards at the mine site.
> Download EMNRD release Oct. 30, 2009 (PDF)
EPA settlement requires United Nuclear Corporation to clean up additional soil released from Northeast Church Rock Mine
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency settled with United Nuclear Corporation and General Electric, UNC's indirect parent corporation, requiring the companies to immediately clean up a portion of radium-contaminated soil released from the Northeast Church Rock Mine Site, near Gallup, N.M.
The settlement requires UNC to excavate radium-contaminated soil in an area closest to where people live -- up to Red Water Pond Road -- and provide temporary housing for three homes that are within or adjacent to the area being addressed. UNC will also clear contaminated sediments out of the arroyo or wash. In addition, the companies have agreed to reimburse the EPA up to $1.5 million in past response costs at the mine, and additional costs the EPA may incur later.
(EPA July 28, 2009)
EPA releases North East Church Rock mine cleanup plan for public comment
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its proposed cleanup plan for the Northeast Churchrock Mine, kicking off a 30-day public comment period.
EPA's preference for addressing potential exposure risks from radium- and uranium-contaminated soils is to move all the contaminated waste material from the mine to an existing disposal cell at the United Nuclear Corp. mill site or to a newly constructed cell at the UNC mill facility. Any cell would be lined and capped and would receive long-term monitoring.
The waste would include ore, waste rock, buildings, foundations, adjacent soil and contaminated sediment.
Waste with a high concentration of radium and uranium would be transported to an off-site licensed disposal facility such as the one at Grandview, Idaho.
Once the waste has been removed, the mine site would be restored for livestock grazing, according to EPA.
(Gallup Independent June 15, 2009)
The public comment period has been extended to September 9, 2009.
> Download related EPA Region 9 Superfund documents :
> See also Northeast Church Rock EECA - Emails and Attachments (NRC ADAMS Acc. No. ML091680255)
- EPA release June 8, 2009 (under "Fact Sheets")
- Northeast Church Rock Mine Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EE/CA) & Appendices, June 1, 2009 (under "Records of Decision")
EPA to clean up residential properties contaminated from former Northeast Church Rock uranium mine site
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, will begin cleaning up radium-contaminated soil the second week in May 2007 at five residential properties in the Coyote Canyon Chapter of the Navajo Nation, near Gallup, New Mex.
The EPA believes rain and flash floods likely washed contaminated soils from the former Northeast Church Rock uranium mine site into an unnamed arroyo and ultimately onto the residential properties. The area's prevailing winds are also believed to have transported contaminated dust from the mine site.
The 125-acre Northeast Church Rock Mine site operated from approximately 1967 to 1982, and includes two underground uranium shafts, waste piles, several surface ponds, buried waste and sand fill areas.
(EPA Region 9, May 1, 2007)
EPA settles with United Nuclear to investigate contamination at former Church Rock uranium mine and mill site
On Sep. 28, 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement with the United Nuclear Corporation requiring the company to further investigate contamination related to its historic uranium mining and processing operations at the Northeast Church Rock Mine site located on the Navajo Nation, approximately 16 miles northeast of Gallup, New Mex.
Under the agreement, the company is required to investigate site and facility-related contamination, including an unnamed arroyo, and take radiation and soil samples. The company must also replace an inadequate fence that currently allows individuals and livestock to enter areas of potential contamination.
The EPA will evaluate the results of the investigation and consult with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency on any cleanup plans. The EPA will then attempt to reach a separate settlement with United Nuclear Corporation in which the company would clean up the area and pay for past costs related to the site.
In January 2006, the EPA detected elevated levels of alpha radiation at the site and radium-226 in the surface soils.
Residences to the northeast of the mine permit area may have been affected by releases of hazardous substances and contaminants transported by wind, historic dewatering of mining operations, and runoff during snow, rain and flood events.
(EPA Region 9, Sep. 28, 2006)
United Nuclear submits reclamation plans for Church Rock uranium mines
22 years after shutdown, United Nuclear Corp. has submitted reclamation plans for the 137-acre [55 ha] Northeast Church Rock Mine and the 14-acre [5.6 ha] Section 27 Mine. The sites would be reseeded, revegetated, and have all mine shafts closed.
The UNC proposals are being reviewed by the Mining and Minerals Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and by the state Environment Department.
(AP Feb. 21, 2004)
> Download Reclamation Plans: EMNRD
> View extra page
Mine Permit MK006RE
> View Pending Mine Applications, Regular Existing: St. Anthony Mine (NM EMNRD)
Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps
St. Anthony Mine Closeout Plan, January 2006 (8M PDF, EMNRD)
> View background information on Uranium Mill Tailings Management - USA