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Decommissioning Projects, USA - UMTRA Title I

(last updated 3 Dec 2016)

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Ambrosia Lake · Belfield and Bowman · Burrell (PA) · Canonsburg · Durango · Falls City · Grand Junction · Green River · Gunnison · Lakeview · Lowman · Maybell · Mexican Hat · Monticello · Monument Valley · Naturita · Rifle · Riverton · Salt Lake City · Shiprock · Slick Rock · Spook · Tuba City
> See also:

Arizona

Monument Valley · Tuba City

Monument Valley, Arizona

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Monument Valley site

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

Further wells exceed uranium standard in groundwater at former Monument Valley uranium mill site; bee hive found in one monitoring well...

At a Dec. 7-10, 2015, sampling event, four groundwater monitoring wells at the Monument Valley processing site showed an increase of uranium concentrations above the 0.044 mg/L Maximum Concentration Limit (MCL) after having met the standard for several consecutive years. And, of the four wells that already had been exceeding the standard in the preceding years, only one showed a decrease below the MCL, while the others showed stable or increasing values.
At the same occasion, a bee hive was found in a monitoring well that had no excessive uranium concentrations.
> Download: Data Validation Package, December 2015 Groundwater and Surface Water Sampling at the Monument Valley, Arizona, Processing Site , LMS/MON/S01215, U.S. Department of Energy, Legacy Management, March 2016 (7.3 MB PDF)

 

DOE completes pilot study on alternatives to active pumping and treatment for groundwater remediation at Monument Valley uranium mill tailings site

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) has completed a suite of pilot studies designed to evaluate, on a landscape scale, proposed passive and active remedies for ammonium, nitrate, and sulfate in an alluvial aquifer and in a source area at the Monument Valley, Arizona, Processing Site. Pilot studies are trial studies or experiments conducted to evaluate and demonstrate alternative remedies before a final remedial action is selected and implemented. The passive remedies, monitored natural and enhanced phytoremediation and denitrification, were evaluated as alternatives to active pumping and treatment technologies. Land-farm phytoremediation was evaluated as an alternative to conventional active remedies.
> Download: Monitored Natural and Enhanced Attenuation of the Alluvial Aquifer and Subpile Soils at the Monument Valley, Arizona, Processing Site: Final Pilot Study Report, LMS/MON/S07670, U.S. DOE Legacy Management, April 2013: Main text - Appendix B · Appendices C - J

On May 11, 2016, DOE submitted a revision of the Pilot Study Report adressing written comments received.
> Download: Monitored Natural and Enhanced Attenuation of the Alluvial Aquifer and Subpile Soils at the Monument Valley, Arizona, Processing Site: Final Pilot Study Report , LMS/MON/S07670, U.S. DOE Legacy Management, May 2016 (56MB PDF)

 

Radiological assessment of stained soils at the Monument Valley, Arizona, uranium mill site finds no elevated risk - if you stay away 99.86% of the time

"Following observation in the field of stained soils, samples were taken at locations that were scanned and indicated elevated gamma readings. The area was marked-off as radiologically contaminated pending analysis results as a conservative protective measure. The area in question was a former evaporation pond during processing and it was deemed clean during the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRCA) surface program. Sample analysis indicated that the area is elevated in uranium but not in radium, and therefore is still within regulatory standards for soil cleanup at UTMRCA sites."
The risk analysis performed showed that the dose estimates are well below NRC's 25 mrem/year [0.25 mSv/a] site decommissioning criterion. These dose estimates, however, are based on an annual exposure time of just 12 hours per year - as assumed appropriate for the workers currently surveying the site.

> Download Radiological Assessment of Stained Soils at the Monument Valley Processing Site , June 2010, U.S. Department of Energy, Legacy Management

 

U.S. DOE releases Final Environmental Assessment and FONSI Documents for Groundwater Restoration at Monument Valley, Arizona, Uranium Mill Tailings Site

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management (DOE-LM) announces the availability of the final Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance at the Monument Valley, Arizona, Uranium Mill Tailings Site and the Finding of No Significant Impact documents for the site.

> Download DOE LM release April 11, 2005 (PDF)
> Download Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance at the Monument Valley, Arizona, Uranium Mill Tailings Site, Final, DOE/EA-1313, March 2005 (2.2MB PDF)

 

U.S. DOE issues Draft Environmental Assessment Document for Groundwater Restoration at Monument Valley, Arizona, Uranium Mill Tailings Site for Public Comment

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management in conjunction with the Navajo Uranium Mill Tailing Remedial Action Program announces the availability of the draft Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance at the Monument Valley, Arizona, Uranium Mill Tailings Site.
The proposed compliance strategies are mostly based on natural flushing and passive remediation through phytoremediation.

> Download DOE release Nov. 10, 2004 (PDF)
> Download DOE release Dec. 8, 2004 (PDF)
> Download Draft Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance at the Monument Valley, Arizona, Uranium Mill Tailings Site, DOE/EA-1313, Nov. 2004 (1.54MB PDF - Navajo AML)

 

Environmental Assessment of Groundwater Cleanup Available for Review

"The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grand Junction Office (GJO) announces the availability of the Draft Environmental Assessment of the Ground Water Compliance Activities at the Monument Valley Mill Tailings Site.

This Environmental Assessment analyzes the potential environmental impacts for the proposed action, which is to conduct active remediation using a pump-and-treat methodology coupled with phytoremediation (using plants to clean up the contaminant). Groundwater would be extracted and fed into a distillation system. The treated groundwater would then be re-injected into the aquifer. DOE determined this compliance strategy as appropriate for the contamination that exists in the groundwater as a result of the milling operations at the former Monument Valley mill tailings site."
Any public comments on the Environmental Assessment should be submitted no later than November 15, 1999.
> View DOE GJO release (Oct. 25, 1999)

> View Monument Valley general site info · DOE-GJO groundwater info


Tuba City, Arizona

NRC Docket No. WM-00073

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Tuba City site

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

DOE discontinues groundwater pump and treat scheme at Tuba City uranium mill tailings site due to ineffectiveness

The Tuba City groundwater treatment plant's operation has been discontinued for an indeterminate time. The groundwater pump and treat system has proven to be ineffective at achieving remediation goals after 10 years of operation.
DOE-LM has prepared an Alternatives Analysis of Contaminated Groundwater Treatment Technologies. The most favorable alternative is to directly evaporate a much smaller volume of the most contaminated water.
> Download DOE letter to NRC, Nov. 5, 2014, including Alternatives Analysis of Contaminated Groundwater Treatment Technologies, Sep. 2014 (31.2MB PDF - ADAMS Acc. No. ML14314A858)

Significant decreases in contaminant concentrations are "not apparent" with groundwater remediation at Tuba City uranium mill tailings site

"Although measureable progress is indicated by cumulative contaminant mass removed from the aquifer, significant and wide spread decreases in contaminant concentrations are not apparent."
(Annual Groundwater Report, April 2011 through March 2012, Tuba City, Arizona, Disposal Site, U.S. DOE, July 2012)

"Consistent with previous annual reporting, after more than 10 years of operation, significant and widespread decreases in contaminant concentrations in groundwater are not apparent. This is despite measureable progress in groundwater treatment, as indicated by the cumulative volume of contaminated groundwater and the cumulative mass of contaminant extracted from the aquifer to date."
(Annual Groundwater Report, April 2012 Through March 2013, Tuba City, Arizona, Disposal Site, U.S. DOE, August 2013)

Groundwater remediation at Tuba City uranium mill tailings site suspended after major sulfuric acid spill

The Tuba City, Arizona, Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA), Title I site, has been shut down temporarily following an incident in which one of the critical unit operations was compromised and will have to be repaired before the site can resume operation. During a routine delivery of concentrated sulfuric acid to the site, there was a minor spill of acid when the storage tank was overfilled, which necessitated the release of a minor amount of fluid to provide headspace in the tank. Operation of the outlet valve caused a minor leak to develop behind the valve, and eventually the entire tank contents were emptied into secondary containment and thence to the evaporation pond. The amount of acid released to the pond was the full tank volume of 3000 gallons [11,356 litres], of 98 percent sulfuric acid.
> Download DOE letter Dec. 8, 2010 (PDF - ADAMS Acc. No. ML103500341)

 

Contaminated sites on Navajo land near former Tuba City uranium mill

Remediation of U.S. Highway 160 Site on Navajo land near former Tuba City uranium mill completed
Remediation activities of the U.S. Highway 160 Site were conducted from June through September 2011. The site is located six miles east of Tuba City, Arizona, across U.S. Highway 160 from the former Rare Metals uranium processing mill that was remediated under the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Program.
> Download Highway 160 Project Remediation Completion Report, 28 Dec. 2011 (Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency)
> Download Independent Verification Report, Oct. 2011 (DOE)

Federal Appeals Court rules DOE not responsible for cleanup of contaminated sites on Navajo land near former Tuba City uranium mill
A federal appeals court ruled today (Jan. 28) that the Department of Energy does not have to remediate two sites on Navajo Nation land that are adjacent to an old uranium mine. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the Navajo Nation and the El Paso Natural Gas Co., the successor company to the mine operator, on technical grounds.
The mill itself, in Tuba City, Ariz., was one of the properties DOE initially agreed to remediate. The Navajo Nation only became aware that the two sites nearby were also contaminated in the early 2000s. In 2003, DOE denied a Navajo request to remediate the sites. In doing so, the government questioned whether the pollution came from the mill. The natural gas company subsequently filed suit in 2007 over concerns it would be left to foot the bill. (New York Times Jan. 28, 2011)
> Download Court opinion: El Paso Natural Gas Company v. USA, No. 10-5080, Jan. 28, 2011 , United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (66k PDF)

Concerns about hazards from alleged illegal waste dump near former Tuba City uranium mill
The Navajo Nation claims former mill owner Rare Metals Incorporated allegedly dumped some waste from the mill off the site illegally in the 1960s. And just as with the tailings at the mill, it believes that waste is leaking contaminants into the groundwater below, threatening nearby wells. Bill Walker, a private geologist on the tribe's payroll, says he's linked the waste at the dumps to the mill with the help of some telltale chemicals Rare Metals used in the milling process. He's found the same chemicals in the dumps. He's also found a plume of contaminated water beneath the old landfill, but is still working on linking the two.
El Paso Natural Gas Company, which bought Rare Metals Incorporated, says the Energy Department still bears some responsibility for the mill and its waste. El Paso sued the Energy Department insisting it take responsibility for the dump sites in May 2007. The government has yet to file a formal response. (Gallup Independent Aug. 2, 2007)

 

Environmental Assessment of Ground-Water Cleanup Strategy

The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grand Junction Office (GJO) announces the availability of the Draft Environmental Assessment of Ground-Water Compliance at the Tuba City Uranium Mill Tailings Site near Tuba City, Arizona. The Environmental Assessment identifies the proposed ground-water compliance strategy that will be used at the former uranium-ore processing site near Tuba City.
> View Grand Junction Office press release (Oct 14, 1998)

> Download Tuba City Environmental Assessment (PDF)

> View Tuba City general site info · DOE GJO groundwater site info


Colorado

Durango · Grand Junction · Gunnison · Maybell · Naturita · Rifle · Slick Rock

Durango, Colorado

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Durango sites

Aerial view (processing site): Google Maps · MSRMaps
Aerial view (disposal site - Bodo Canyon): Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

Management plan requires re-burying under the roadway of any uranium mill tailings found in ongoing road construction in Durango

Road crews completing the new intersection at Camino del Rio and U.S. Highway 160 are taking special precaution to keep an eye out for uranium tailings left over from a mill that closed in 1963. Though tailings have not been encountered during the continuous-flow intersection project, which is estimated to be finished in mid-August, workers did find uranium tailings in some of the sidewalks while completing another project in 2011 in the same area, said Nancy Shanks, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Because of earlier findings near the construction zone, CDOT project specifications required a Materials Management Plan and Health and Safety Plan to address uranium tailings, should they be encountered within the project area, she said. The plans followed the guidelines of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's uranium mill tailings management plan, Shanks said. In compliance with the health department's management plan, any tailings encountered should be re-buried under the roadway, Shanks said. (Durango Herald July 3, 2014)

DOE still hopeful that natural flushing will prove to be a valid compliance strategy for groundwater contaminants at former Durango uranium processing site

"As of June 2012, the observed rate of contaminant flushing is generally consistent with groundwater model predictions, given that the validation period to date (June 2002 to June 2012) is short compared to predicted flushing periods (60 to 100 years) for the various contaminants.
Only cadmium was identified in the modeling as potentially unlikely to flush to acceptable levels within 100 years. However, at the single location (well 0612) where cadmium is present above the compliance goal of 0.01 mg/L, concentrations have decreased more rapidly than predicted by the model. The linear trend suggests the compliance goal for cadmium will be reached by about 2078.
With the possible exception of sulfate and selenium, modeling predictions and concentration trends imply that the compliance goals for remaining constituents will likely be attained within 100 years, suggesting that natural flushing remains a valid compliance strategy for these constituents as well. The impact on surface water quality from site-related contamination remains negligible."
> Download: Verification Monitoring Report for the Durango, Colorado, Processing Site , LMS/DUP/S09347, U.S. Department of Energy - Legacy Management, December 2012 (7.8MB PDF)

Photovoltaic Solar Project at Durango uranium mill tailings site

> View DOE NEPA Environmental Assessment: Durango, Colorado, Disposal Site (U.S. DOE Legacy Management)

DOE releases Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact on the Photovoltaic Solar Project at Durango uranium mill tailings disposal site:
> Download DOE Notice June 24, 2011 (PDF)
> Download Environmental Assessment Photovoltaic Solar Project at the Durango, Colorado, Disposal Site, Final, June 2011, LMS/DUD/S06350, DOE/EA-1770 (1.7M PDF)

DOE releases Draft Environmental Assessment on the Photovoltaic Solar Project at Durango uranium mill tailings site:
Under Alternative 1, a PV system would be placed on top of the vegetated surface of the disposal cell. DOE's conceptual configuration of PV panels on top of the disposal cell could generate 4.0 megawatts (MW).
Under Alternative 2, solar arrays would be placed on previously disturbed areas adjacent to the disposal cell in addition to the disposal cell surface. It is expected that a 4.5 MW-capacity system could be installed in these combined areas.
> Download Draft Environmental Assessment: Photovoltaic Solar Project at the Durango, Colorado, Site, DOE/EA 1770, August 2010 (8.3M PDF) · alternate source (16.5M PDF image scan, ADAMS Acc. No. ML102310238)

 

Rising uranium concentration in monitoring well at disposal site of Durango uranium mill tailings causes concern; groundwater standard miraculously no longer exceeded

The Department of Energy [...] recently released more distressing news in its annual report on the Bodo disposal cell. Groundwater is regularly monitored to determine cell integrity and to check for leakage of wastes from the cell. While the cell appears to be functioning properly, groundwater tests in one of seven monitoring wells indicated rising levels of uranium contamination. Testing in 2009 approached 0.077 milligrams of uranium per liter, the "site-specific standard" for the Bodo Cell.
"For some reason we are seeing an increase in uranium at that test site," said Joe Desormeaux, health and safety manager with the DOE Office of Legacy Management. "However, this is not a point-of-compliance well, and as far as protection of public health goes, we see no danger."
There are several possible culprits for the elevated numbers, according to Desormeaux. The locale's naturally occurring uranium could be leaching into the test well; the well could have crossed a coal seam, which may have spiked the numbers; or the Bodo Canyon Cell could be leaking uranium mill tailings. For Travis Stills, of the Energy Mineral Law Center, the cause of the elevated numbers is beyond doubt. "Those numbers should be at zero," he said. "The fact that there's any reading indicates that the cells are leaking. And the fact that there's been a rising trend in uranium concentrations is frightening." (The Durango Telegraph Feb. 25, 2010)

> Download 2009 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites - Durango, Colorado, Disposal Site. LMS/S05884. January 2010 (448k PDF)

Although the uranium concentration in the monitoring well showed consecutive increases for several years, the 2009 value miraculously no longer exceeds the site's standard:
"The uranium levels have decreased back below the standard in 2010." (2010 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, January 2011)

Uranium concentration in groundwater monitoring well at Durango uranium mill tailings disposal site exceeds standard up to three-fold: "Uranium concentrations were below the standard until an increase observed during the June 2011 sampling event. Concentrations continued to increase, and the September 2012 results of 0.227 milligram per liter (mg/L) are the highest observed in well 0618. The results for October and November 2012 have decreased, but still remain over the [0.077 mg/L] standard. The potential cause of this increase is being investigated; however, because well 0618 is not a point-of-compliance well, site levels remain in compliance with the LTSP." (2012 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, February 2013)

Uranium concentration in groundwater monitoring well at Durango uranium mill tailings disposal site still exceeds standard twice: "Uranium concentrations in well 0618 have decreased since September 2012, but still have an increasing trend overall." (2013 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, March 2014)

Uranium concentration in groundwater monitoring well at Durango uranium mill tailings disposal site meets new site-specific standard for the first time in five years: At the June 2, 2015, sampling event, the uranium concentration in well 0618 decreased to 0.064 mg/L, which is below the 0.077 mg/L site-specific standard, but still above EPA's Maximum Concentration Limit of 0.044 mg/L. (Data Validation Report, June 2015 Groundwater and Surface Water Sampling at the Durango, Colorado, Disposal and Processing Sites, October 2015)
Please note: the time-concentration graphs in this report (and the previous editions back to 2010) show erratic data points for all years back to 2009.

 

NRC approves natural flushing as groundwater compliance strategy for Durango uranium mill tailings site

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) submitted a final Site Observational Work Plan (SOWP) for the referenced site to the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on January 24, 2002. The DOE submitted a Preliminary Final Ground Water Compliance Action Plan (PFGCAP) to the NRC on August 28, 2003, for the site. It also submitted four Durango Site Verification Monitoring reports, and a Data Validation Package to the NRC.
Based on a review of the reports submitted, the NRC staff concurs with the SOWP and the PFGCAP with conditions.
The proposed ground water and surface water compliance strategy for the mill tailings area is natural flushing with an alternate concentration limit (ACL) for selenium in conjunction with institutional controls and continued monitoring of ground water and surface water.
The proposed ground water and surface water compliance strategy for the raffinate ponds area is no remediation with the application of supplemental standards based on the criterion of limited-use ground water due to widespread selenium contamination, use of institutional controls, and continued monitoring of ground water and surface water as a best management practice.

> Download Technical Evaluation Report Dec. 22, 2008 (ADAMS ML080430466)

 

Former Durango uranium mill site becomes dog park

In mid-December 2003, 5 acres [2 ha] of grassy field at the former Durango uranium mill site have been dedicated an off-leash dog park. The site is located on the Animas River at the town's southwestern edge. Tests were performed to ensure that any dogs digging their new surroundings wouldn't uncover its past. The tests show it is safe, at least to a depth of a few feet. (Denver Post Dec. 25, 2003)

 

Final Environmental Assessment Document and FONSI released for Durango, Colorado, UMTRA Ground Water Project Site

The compliance strategy for the mill tailings area is to allow natural flushing of the aquifer to decrease contaminant concentrations.
The compliance strategy for the raffinate ponds area is no further remediation in conjunction with the application of supplemental standards for the ground-water constituents.

> Download DOE GJO release Nov. 14, 2002 (160k PDF)
> Download Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance (1.2M PDF)
> Download Finding of No Significant Impact Statement (0.57M PDF)

 

Draft Environmental Assessment Document for Durango, Colorado, UMTRA Ground Water Project Site Available for Public Comment

The U.S. Department of Energy Grand Junction Office (DOE–GJO) announces the availability of the draft Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance at the Durango, Colorado, UMTRA Project Site. The targeted compliance strategy for the mill tailings area is to allow natural flushing of the aquifer to decrease contaminant concentrations. In conjunction with this strategy, DOE would ensure that in-place institutional controls are maintained and would continue ground water and surface water monitoring.
Any public comments on the draft Environmental Assessment should be made no later than October 16, 2002.

> Download DOE release Sep. 12, 2002 (PDF)

> Download Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance at the Durango, Colorado, UMTRA Project Site, Draft, September 2002 (1.3M PDF)

> View Durango general site info · DOE-GJO groundwater info


Grand Junction, Colorado

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Grand Junction sites

Aerial view (processing site): Google Maps · MSRMaps
Aerial view (disposal site - Cheney disposal cell): Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

Legislation introduced in U.S. Congress to extend authorization for disposal of radioactive waste at Grand Junction tailings disposal site by 25 years

> H.R.5950 - To extend the authorization of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 relating to the disposal site in Mesa County, Colorado (Introduced in House Sep 7, 2016)
> S.3312 - A bill to extend the authorization of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 relating to the disposal site in Mesa County, Colorado (Introduced in Senate Sep 12, 2016)

Uranium concentration in groundwater at former Grand Junction uranium mill site exceeds historic maximum

Groundwater sampling performed at the former Grand Junction processing site in December 2015 showed that the uranium concentration in well 8-4S reached 0.73 mg/L, exceeding the historic maximum of 0.67 mg/L, as measured in 2001. The applicable Maximum Concentration Limit (MCL) is 0.044 mg/L. (Data Validation Package, December 2015 Groundwater and Surface Water Sampling at the Grand Junction, Colorado, Site, U.S. DOE Legacy Management, LMS/GJO/S01215, March 2016)

State continues to clean up uranium mill tailings at vicinity properties in Grand Junction area

Contamination from radioactive mill tailings in the Grand Junction area remain, long after federal funding for clean-up efforts dried up. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), mill tailings from more than 160 properties were never removed due to owner refusal to participate in the remediation programs which began in the 1970s. Additionally, another 1,500 properties were excluded for various reasons from past clean-up programs.
People new to the community are often unaware of Grand Junction's uranium legacy. Oftentimes, landowners first learn of contamination when they seek a building permit, and a subsequent survey finds mill tailings on the property.
There's still help for those who want to remove tailings from their property, however. Owners are responsible for hauling the mill tailings to the City's locked temporary disposal site on River Road. Later the CDPHE transports the mill tailings to the permanent Department of Energy Grand Junction disposal site near Whitewater.
"We're constantly cleaning up properties," Mike Cosby, Uranium Mill Tailings Remediation Action manager for the Department of Public Health and Environment said. "During heavy construction times we (typically) find two new contaminated properties a week - and that doesn't count the ones we know are contaminated."
Both the CDPHE and the Colorado Real Estate Commission have determined that the presence of mill tailings on a property is a material defect and therefore, must be revealed to potential homebuyers. Many Realtors, however, neglect to do so, Cosby said. (Grand Junction Free Press Aug. 23, 2012)

Exceeding the uranium groundwater standard at disposal site of Grand Junction uranium mill tailings does not alarm DOE

In 2009, the uranium concentration in monitoring well MW-0733 (0.076 mg/L) at the disposal site of the Grand Junction uranium mill tailings showed a marked upward trend for the sixth year in a row, exceeding the applicable Maximum Concentration Limit (MCL) of 0.044 mg/L for the third consecutive year.
DOE, however, maintains: "The elevated uranium in well MW-0733 poses no risk to human health or the environment because the disposal cell is situated on a thick aquiclude overlying "limited use" groundwater that is not for any purpose."

> Download 2009 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites - Grand Junction, Colorado, Disposal Site. LMS/S05884. January 2010 (432k PDF)

In 2010, uranium concentrations in groundwater in well MW-0733 increased further to 0.11 mg/L and were above the MCL of 0.044 mg/L for the fourth consecutive year, but DOE maintains that the elevated uranium poses "no risk". (2010 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, January 2011)

In 2012, uranium concentrations in groundwater were above the MCL (of 0.044 mg/L) in well 0733. Concentrations in well 0733 remained relatively consistent through 2003, at which time an upward trend began, which leveled off at 0.11 mg/L for the 2010 and 2011 sampling events and increased slightly to 0.13 mg/L in 2012. (2012 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, February 2013)

In 2013, uranium concentrations in groundwater were above the MCL (of 0.044 mg/L) in well 0733. Concentrations in well 0733 increased slightly to 0.14 mg/L in 2013. (2013 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, March 2014)

The uranium concentration in well 0733 continued to be above the MCL and continued an upward trend; the 2014 concentration was 0.17 mg/L. There is no apparent correlation of uranium concentrations between the paleochannel wells and the disposal cell well. (2014 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, March 2015)

The uranium concentration in well 0733 continued to be above the MCL and continued an upward trend; the 2015 concentration was 0.18 mg/L. There is no apparent correlation of uranium concentrations between the paleochannel wells and the disposal cell well. (2015 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, March 2016)

Uranium mill tailings underneath roadways still pose problem in Grand Junction

FCI Constructors Inc. is dealing with radioactive waste as they dig up Main Street for the Downtown Uplift restoration project. The sand-like mill tailings were widely used in the Grand Valley during the 1950s and 1960s as fill dirt until federal officials halted the practice, citing health risks from exposure to gamma radiation and radon gas. FCI employees have hauled nearly 500 cubic yards of tailings to the temporary storage facility at the city yard along West Avenue, where the material awaits permanent disposal at the Cheney disposal cell, south of Grand Junction.
"There are other tailings that are just as high or higher (in gamma radiation readings)," that are being left in place, said Mike Cosby, Uranium Mill Tailings Remediation Manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Construction workers are finding tailings as high as 500 microrems [5 micro-Sievert] per hour, Cosby said. Natural background radiation is as high as 18 microrems [0.18 micro-Sievert] per hour.
State and federal clean-up programs that lasted more than 25 years removed tailings from underneath thousands of homes and in yards across the valley. Tailings underneath roadways however, were typically left in place. Despite state and federal clean-up efforts in western Colorado an estimated one million cubic yards [0.76 million cubic metres] of tailings remain outside of the controlled disposal cells, according to the state health department Web site. The bulk of those tailings are located in the Grand Valley, Cosby said. "The state (health department) would prefer to pull all (the tailings) out right now, but that's not our call," Cosby said. "The city's paying for it." (Grand Junction Free Press Feb. 1, 2010)

Uranium mill tailings at vicinity properties still an issue at Grand Junction

Grand Junction once had the dubious distinction of being known as the "most radioactive town in America." During the 1950s and 1960s, local contractors and homeowners would load trucks of the sandy-like tailings left over from the former Climax uranium mill site near the Colorado River and use it for back fill and for mixing cement. At the time it wasn't widely known, locally anyway, that the waste product was highly radioactive. The tailings were used in foundations of homes, sidewalks, patios, streets, schools and commercial buildings.
State and federal remediation programs removed or mitigated many of the radioactive tailings from 1972 to 1998. It was a voluntary program and some owners refused to allow the government to clean up their property. Out of 8,000 known tailings properties in Mesa County approximately 5,000 were cleaned up, said Paul Oliver last year before he retired from the state health department.
Homes that were cleaned up under the first program, the Grand Junction Remediation Action Program, were not remediated to the same standards of the clean-up that came later, the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Program. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is trying to educate real estate agents and the general public about the issue to reduce the number of people who are surprised to learn after an acquisition, that there are mill tailings on their properties. (Grand Junction Free Press Dec. 4, 2009)

Uranium mill tailings materials removed during road construction in Grand Junction

The city has hauled 1,200 to 1,300 cubic yards of radioactive mill tailings out of Colorado Avenue since March 26, 2008. And there's more to go. Old mill tailings are being dug up as the city installs a new storm drainage system and constructs a new road and sidewalks on Colorado Avenue. From 1951 to 1966, individuals and contractors hauled uranium mill tailings away from Grand Junction's Climax uranium mill to use as backfill in various construction projects. The city had a policy to bed new utility lines with mill tailings, said Paul Oliver, environmental protection specialist at the state health department. "Mill tailings are very fine grain, there are no sharp edges and it was free," Oliver said. "People didn’t know back then the dangers of radon." (Grand Junction Free Press May 14, 2008)

Critique of Institutional Controls for Cleanup of Vicinity Properties

The Environmental Law Institute has issued a research report on the effectiveness of institutional controls as a means to control hazards from contamination of vicinity properties with uranium mill tailings.
Excerpt from executive summary:
"The voluntary nature of the UMTRA program has resulted in anomalous gaps in the protection against future risks provided by institutional controls. The database of vicinity properties prepared by DOE contains substantial information about any tailings left in place at sites cleaned up under the program. It contains no information, however, about tailings at properties whose owners refused to be evaluated or cleaned up under the program. This means that there will be no records to show where the potentially highest risks are located, while properties where no risk remains, because all tailings were removed, will be extensively documented."

Institutional Controls Case Study: Grand Junction , Environmental Law Institute, Washington, DC, 1999 37 p.

No groundwater cleanup for Climax Uranium Millsite

"The U.S.Department of Energy (DOE) Grand Junction Office (GJO) announces the availability of the Environmental Assessment of the Ground Water Compliance Activities at the Grand Junction UMTRA Project Site (Climax Uranium Millsite).

This Environmental Assessment analyzes the potential environmental impacts for the proposed action of no remediation and application of supplemental standards. DOE determined this compliance strategy as appropriate for the residual contamination that exists in the groundwater as a result of the milling operations at the former Climax Uranium Millsite in Grand Junction, Colorado. This determination is based on site and regional conditions revealing that shallow groundwater is naturally poor quality and not fit for potable use. The DOE Finding of No Significant Impact documents that no significant environmental impacts will occur from the chosen groundwater cleanup strategy and that there will be no need for an Environmental Impact Statement." (emphasis added)
> View DOE GJO release (Oct 25, 1999)
> Download Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance at the Grand Junction UMTRA Project Site (Climax Uranium Millsite), Sept. 1999 (PDF)
> Download Finding of No Significant Impact - Ground Water Compliance at the Grand Junction UMTRA Project Site (Climax Uranium Millsite), Sept. 1999 (PDF)

> View Grand Junction general site info · DOE GJO groundwater site info


Gunnison, Colorado

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Gunnison sites

Aerial view (processing site): Google Maps · MSRMaps
Aerial view (disposal site): Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

After failure of natural flushing strategy DOE now evaluates other options for groundwater restoration at Gunnison uranium mill tailings site

"Based on a current examination of the water-quality data and the groundwater model, it is apparent water quality at the site is not improving at the rate predicted by the groundwater model. Therefore, it is unlikely that the natural flushing strategy is working as we predicted. As a result, we are currently evaluating other options in accordance with the final programmatic environment impact statement for the uranium mill tailings remedial action ground water project." (DOE letter to NRC dated Feb. 4, 2015)

Uranium in groundwater of former Gunnison mill site continues to exceed standard more than tenfold; compliance strategy by natural flushing "may need to be revised"

"Concentrations of uranium in the alluvial groundwater beneath the former mill site are above the MCL. The uranium concentration in monitoring well 0006, which completed in the shallow zone, remains high but has a downward trend. Highly variable uranium concentrations in this well indicate that residual soil contamination has a localized effect. Construction activities on the former mill site may be mobilizing uranium in soils and contributing to elevated concentrations in groundwater. If concentrations continue to remain high, the 99 year natural flushing time predicted by groundwater modeling and compliance with the 100 year regulatory time-frame for natural flushing at monitoring well 0006 may be unlikely. Accordingly, the compliance strategy for this site may need to be revised."
> Download 2011 Verification Monitoring Report for the Gunnison, Colorado, Processing Site , LMS/GUP/S08005, U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Management, December 2011 (1.6MB PDF)

Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact Documents Available for UMTRA Ground Water Project Site at Gunnison, Colorado

The Environmental Assessment states that DOE plans a passive ground-water remediation strategy through natural flushing coupled with institutional controls and continued monitoring to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ground-water standards.

> Download DOE release Aug. 21, 2002 (PDF)

> Download Environmental Assessment (1.2M PDF) · FONSI (240k PDF)

> View Gunnison general site info · DOE–GJO groundwater info .


Maybell (Umetco), Moffat County, Colorado

> For the Maybell West Title II uranium mill tailings site, see here

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Maybell site

Aerial View: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

BLM issues Public Land Order for Maybell tailings disposal site (where claim stakes were found...)

On March 27, 2008, the Bureau of Land Management issued an order permanently transfering 160 acres of public land to the Department of Energy for its Maybell West Uranium Repository, in accordance with the terms of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-604), as amended. However: "The Secretary of the Interior shall retain the authority to administer any existing claims, rights, and interests in this land that were established before the effective date of the transfer."
Federal Register: April 18, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 76) p. 21152 (download full text )

Claim stakes found on Maybell tailings disposal site

"Three claim stakes were found inside the perimeter fence several hundred feet west and southwest of the disposal cell. BLM confirmed that they are uranium exploration claims staked by Western Fuels Incorporated (PL-4). BLM also confirmed that all BLM property withdrawn and transferred to DOE for the disposal site includes subsurface rights. Two private parcels of land purchased in fee simple by the State of Colorado and acquired by DOE for the site are currently being researched to determine if subsurface rights were included with the transfer."
(2006 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, December 2006, U.S. DOE, Office of Legacy Management)

"In 2008, an additional claim stake was found at the base of the northeast corner of the disposal cell."
(2008 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, January 2009, U.S. DOE, Office of Legacy Management)

In 2009, "Another mining claim stake was found on site, on top of the disposal cell. This claim, like the ones discovered previously, is considered a "nuisance claim" since protection of the disposal cell is provided through the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) general license."
(2009 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, U.S. DOE, Office of Legacy Management, 2010 - emphasis added)
Now, that a claim stake was found on top of the disposal cell, one might wonder whether DOE is correct in assuming that Western Fuels intends to mine the ground underneath the pile: possibly, they rather plan to reprocess the tailings pile itself for residual uranium? Given the amount of 1.76 million short tons of ore processed, the ore grade of 0.13% U3O8, and the recovery rate of 88%, the tailings still contain 0.0156% U3O8 (0.0132% U) - corresponding to grades of low grade ores as now being proposed for mining in Namibia, for example; the total uranium contents of the tailings pile amounts to just 211 t U, however...

Legitimacy still unclear of claim stakes found on Maybell uranium mill tailings site

"No new mineral claim stakes were found on site in 2010, and DOE has not been contacted in regard to the previous uranium exploration claims found on site in 2006, 2008, and 2009 (that were staked by Western Fuels Incorporated). These claims are considered ''nuisance Claims,'' as protections provided under the NRC general license preclude any mining activity that would jeopardize the integrity of the disposal cell. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has indicated that all federal land withdrawn by DOE for the disposal site included the subsurface mineral rights. However, it is unknown whether senior rights existed on the federal lands withdrawn or if the two private parcels of land purchased in fee simple by the State of Colorado and transferred to DOE as part of the site included the subsurface mineral rights."
(2010 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, U.S. DOE, Office of Legacy Management, January 2011 - emphasis added)

And again: claim stakes found on Maybell tailings disposal site in 2011

"New lode mining claim locator stakes were found on site, including on the disposal cell. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) notified the claimant that those stakes located on the withdrawn portion of the site were placed in error. Title information indicates that the complete mineral estates were not acquired for the two private parcels that make up the balance of the site. However, protection of the disposal system from third-party surface and subsurface activities is provided under the general license."
(2011 Annual Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, U.S. DOE, Office of Legacy Management, January 2012)

And again: lode mining claim locator stakes found on Maybell tailings disposal site in 2012

"In 2006, lode mining claim locator stakes were first discovered onsite inside the perimeter fence. Additional locator stakes were found onsite in the years following, including several on top of the disposal cell in 2011. Two more were found onsite in 2012. Upon contact, BLM confirmed these to be locator stakes and not actual claim stakes, and indicated they were a precursor to a possible claim being filed and that increased uranium exploration is occurring in the area. The ''Notice of Location'' form on one of the stakes indicated Oregon Energy LLC as the locator. BLM said Western Fuels Incorporated had also placed some of the stakes. If claims were to be filed, they would be considered nuisance claims, as protections pursuant to the NRC general license for the disposal site appear to preclude any surface or subsurface activity that would jeopardize the disposal cell and its associated drainage control structures. Research would be needed to determine if valid subsurface mineral rights that predate BLM's site withdrawal exist. Additional research would be needed to determine whether the subsurface mineral rights were included with the two private parcels of land on the west and south sides of the site that were purchased in fee simple by the State of Colorado and transferred to DOE. The status of subsurface mineral ownership and confirmation of the apparent regulatory protections has not been obtained."
(2012 UMTRCA Title I Annual Report, U.S. Department of Energy, February 2013)

No new claim stakes found on Maybell tailings disposal site in 2013 - an indication that prospectors have lost hope that the uranium price will ever recover?

"No additional stakes were found in 2013."
(2013 UMTRCA Title I Annual Report, U.S. Department of Energy, March 2014)


Naturita, Colorado

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Naturita sites

Aerial View (processing site): Google Maps · MSRMaps
Aerial View (Upper Burbank disposal site): Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

Groundwater monitoring to be terminated at Naturita tailings disposal site

On Oct. 31, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requested the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's concurrence on DOE's decision to terminate ground water monitoring at the Naturita Colorado Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA) disposal site.
By letter dated Apr. 15, 2014, NRC staff did not object to DOE's proposal, but cautioned that the Commission might still require some form of groundwater monitoring. (ADAMS Acc. No. ML13333A806)

 

Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact Documents Available for UMTRA Ground Water Project Site at Naturita, Colorado

> Download GJO release Apr. 23, 2003 (PDF)

> Download: Final EA (1.2M PDF) · FONSI (PDF)

 

Draft Environmental Assessment Document for Naturita, Colorado, UMTRA Ground Water Project Site Available for Public Comment

A compliance strategy is being proposed of no further remedial action of the ground water with the application of alternate concentration limits for uranium and vanadium.
Public comments on the draft Environmental Assessment should be made no later than March 24, 2003.

> DOE GJO release Feb. 20, 2003 (PDF)

> View Naturita general site info · DOE GJO groundwater info


Rifle, Colorado

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Rifle sites

Aerial view (Old Rifle processing site): Google Maps · MSRMaps
Aerial view (New Rifle processing site): Google Maps · MSRMaps
Aerial view (Estes Gulch disposal site): Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

DOE proposes to abandon groundwater cleanup at former Old Rifle uranium mill site for "technical impracticability"

On May 1, 2012, U.S. DOE transmitted to NRC a Draft Groundwater Compliance Action Plan for the Old Rifle, Colorado, UMTRCA Title I Processing Site: "This draft Groundwater Compliance Action Plan presents the most recent characterization information and a new compliance strategy for groundwater cleanup at the Old Rifle, Colorado, former uranium-ore processing site. The proposed groundwater compliance strategy will continue to be protective of human health and the environment. A recommendation of -- no remediation with the application of supplemental standards based on technical impracticability -- is provided."
> Download: Draft Groundwater Compliance Action Plan for the Old Rifle, Colorado, UMTRCA Title I Processing Site , LMS/RFO/S07857, March 2012, U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Management (ADAMS Acc. No. ML12123A719)

DOE proposes relaxed groundwater standards for former New Rifle uranium mill site

On April 30, 2012, U.S. DOE transmitted to NRC a proposal for relaxed groundwater standards at the former New Rifle processing site: "The U. S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management (DOE-LM) is currently planning to update the New Rifle Groundwater Compliance Action Plan (GCAP) in 2013. One potential compliance strategy is no remediation with the application of alternate concentration limits (ACLs)."
> Download: Development of Risk-Based Alternate Concentration Limits for the New Rifle, Colorado, Processing Site (Draft) , LMS/RFN/S08753, March 2012, U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Management (ADAMS Acc. No. ML121220331)

Natural flushing at Old Rifle processing site not functioning as predicted

Concentrations of selenium and vanadium at the Old Rifle site continue to decrease. Uranium concentrations do not display any consistent trends and have not declined as the modeling results in the Site Observational Work Plan (SOWP) predicted. The modeling results indicated that uranium would meet its groundwater standard sitewide within 30 years.
> Download 2010 Verification Monitoring Report for the Old and New Rifle, Colorado, Processing Sites, September 2010 (1.9M PDF - DOE LM)
> Download Old Rifle Title I Processing Site, Rifle, Colorado - What Are They Doing on My Site? presentation by Richard Bush, Rifle Site Manager, November 16, 2010 (3.5M PowerPoint - DOE LM)

Last of historic uranium mill tailings properties in Colorado transferred

On July 1, 2004, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced that the last uranium mill tailings reclamation site in Colorado has been cleaned up and the property transferred to the City of Rifle.
The department's Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division has managed the cleanup of the Rifle West (New) Mill Site under the provisions of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA) program. The act gave Colorado authorization to clean up these sites in 1978. Authorization for surface soils cleanup ended in 1998, while ground and surface water authorization continues indefinitely.
> View CDPHE release July 1, 2004

Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Siginificant Impact documents available for New Rifle, Colorado, UMTRA Ground Water Project Site

> Download GJO release July 29, 2003 (PDF)
> Download Environmental Assessment (3.1MB PDF) · FONSI (160k PDF)

Draft Environmental Assessment Document for New Rifle, Colorado, UMTRA Ground Water Project Site Available for Public Comment

The targeted compliance strategy for the New Rifle site is natural flushing in conjunction with institutional controls and monitoring.

> Download GJO release June 2, 2003 (PDF)

New Groundwater Compliance Strategy Proposed for Vanadium at New Rifle, Colorado, UMTRA Site Based on Pilot Study Results

DOE is proposing a compliance strategy of no remediation for vanadium in the alluvial aquifer, in conjunction with application of an alternate concentration limit for vanadium and establishment of institutional controls for the site.
> Download Grand Junction Office Perspective, July 2002 (PDF) , p. 6-7

Draft Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance at the New Rifle, Colorado, UMTRA Site Available

The draft Environmental Assessment analyzes the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed compliance strategy of natural flushing with institutional controls to meet the ground water cleanup standards to mitigate human health risks for all contaminants except vanadium.
> View GJO release Nov. 28, 2001

> View Rifle general site info · GJO groundwater info


Slick Rock, Colorado

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Slick Rock sites

Aerial View (West and East processing sites): Google Maps · MSRMaps
Aerial View (disposal site): Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

Groundwater restoration by natural flushing at former Slick Rock uranium mill sites not functioning as predicted

"Evaluation of trends documented in Section 5.0 suggest that certain constituents might not attenuate as initially predicted based on groundwater modeling conducted for the SOWP [Site Observational Work Plan] (DOE 2002b). Although it is still early in the 100-year time frame established in 40 CFR 192, time trend analysis for many constituents and wells indicate a stable (flat) or, in some cases, an increasing trend."
> Download Verification Monitoring Report for the Slick Rock, Colorado, Processing Sites, LMS/SRE-SRW/S07699, June 2011, U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Management: DOE LM (3MB PDF) · NRC ADAMS (30MB image scan PDF)
> Download Verification Monitoring Report for the Slick Rock, Colorado, Processing Sites, LMS/SRE-SRW/S08837, May 2012, U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Management: DOE LM (4.5MB PDF) · NRC ADAMS (23.8MB image scan PDF)

DOE releases Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact Documents for Slick Rock, Colorado, UMTRA Ground Water Project

"The Environmental Assessment states that DOE's compliance strategy for both sites is to allow natural flushing to reduce the levels of contaminant concentrations in the ground water to acceptable levels within the 100-year time frame allowed by law. In conjunction with the compliance strategy, DOE will ensure that institutional controls are maintained to prevent future use of the ground water. Institutional controls protect public health and the environment by limiting access to a contaminated medium. DOE will also continue monitoring ground water and surface water at the Slick Rock sites."
> Download DOE GJO release March 13, 2003 (PDF)
> Download Final EA (4.5MB PDF) and FONSI (250k PDF)

DOE releases Draft Environmental Assessment Document for Slick Rock, Colorado, UMTRA Ground Water Project

The targeted ground water compliance strategy is natural flushing.
Any public comments on the draft Environmental Assessment should be made no later than January 21, 2003.

> GJO news release Dec. 19, 2002 (PDF)

License for Long-Term Custody

"On August 31, 1998, the Division of Waste Management placed the Slick Rock, Colorado, uranium mill tailings disposal site, located at Burro Canyon, Colorado, under general license, consistent with the provisions of 10 CFR 40.27. The Slick Rock disposal site was reclaimed by the Department of Energy (DOE) under Title I of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (UMTRCA). The Slick Rock site will be the fifteenth of nineteen disposal sites scheduled to be completed by DOE and licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) under UMTRCA. At this Time, three disposal sites, Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico, and Naturita and Maybell, Colorado, remain to be licensed by NRC following completion and submittal by DOE of the appropriate documentation. When these three sites are licensed by NRC, DOE will have completed the surface cleanup and reclamation phase of the uranium mill tailings remedial action project. The nineteenth site, at Grand Junction, Colorado, is not scheduled for completion until 2023, since it will remain open to accept additional contaminated materials found at vicinity properties."
[NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending September 4, 1998]

> View Slick Rock general site info · DOE GJO groundwater site info


Idaho

Lowman

Lowman, Idaho

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Lowman site

Aerial view: Google Maps


New Mexico

Ambrosia Lake · Shiprock

Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Ambrosia Lake site

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

> For the Quivira Mining Ambrosia Lake uranium mill site, look here

 

Sharp increase of groundwater contaminants in monitoring well at Ambrosia Lake Title I uranium mill tailings site

At the annual groundwater sampling event on Nov. 20, 2014, one of two monitoring wells sampled showed unprecedented sharp increases in concentrations of molybdenum and uranium.
> Download: Data Validation Package, November 2014 Water Sampling at the Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico, Disposal Site , LMS/AMB/S01114, U.S. DOE Legacy Management, February 2015 (3.7 MB PDF)

However, at the Dec. 3, 2015, sampling event, the concentrations returned to previous levels.
> Download: Data Validation Package, December 2015 Water Sampling at the Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico, Disposal Site , LMS/AMB/S01215, U.S. DOE Legacy Management, March 2016 (3.4 MB PDF)

License for Long-Term Custody

"On September 25, 1998, staff from the Division of Waste Management (DWM) licensed the Department of Energy (DOE) as the long-term custodian for the Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico, mill. With the licensing of this site, DWM has completed all its obligations for Fiscal Year 1998 as required by Title I of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act. Two DOE sites remain to be licensed. DOE anticipates having these sites ready for licensing in the first quarter of Calendar Year 1999. When the two remaining sites are licensed, the DOE Title I program for reclaiming abandoned uranium mills will be complete. DOE will continue its program to restore and monitor contaminated groundwater at the sites over the next couple of decades."
[NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending October 2, 1998]

> View Ambrosia Lake general site info · DOE GJO groundwater site info


Shiprock, New Mexico

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Shiprock site

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

Groundwater contamination at Shiprock uranium mill tailings site likely caused from natural sources, USGS report

Based on groundwater elevations and tritium concentrations measured in wells located between the disposal cell and Many Devils Wash, Mill water is not likely to reach Many Devils Wash. The tritium concentrations also indicate that groundwater from the Mill has not substantially affected Many Devils Wash in the past.
On the basis of the widespread presence of uranium in the Mancos Shale and the distribution of aqueous uranium in the analog sites and other sites in the region, it appears likely that uranium in the groundwater of Many Devils Wash is naturally sourced from the Mancos Shale.
> Download: The source of groundwater and solutes to Many Devils Wash at a former uranium mill site in Shiprock, New Mexico , by Robertson, A.J., Ranalli, A.J., Austin, S.A., and Lawlis, B.R., U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5031, 2016

Midterm review reports slow progress of groundwater cleanup at Shiprock uranium mill tailings site

In March 2003, DOE began active remediation of groundwater using extraction wells and interceptor drains. The Shiprock site is divided physiographically and hydrologically into two regions, terrace and floodplain, that are separated by an escarpment.
> Download: 2010 Review and Evaluation of the Shiprock Remediation Strategy , U.S. Department of Energy, Legacy Management, January 2011 (9.3MB PDF)

Navajo EPA raises concerns on migrating groundwater contaminant plume at Shiprock UMTRA site

By letter dated Jan. 16, 2004, the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency raises serious concerns on the groundwater contaminant plume migrating from the Shiprock uranium mill tailings site to the northwest:
"The past six years of data indicate that the terrace plume is migrating to the northwest along the area between Shiprock High and 2nd Wash. [...] This area has seen concentrations of nitrate, selenium, sulfate, and uranium steadily increase since 1998. The concentrations for each of these parameters now exceed the MCLs, benchmarks, and cleanup goals. [...]"

UMTRA Ground Water Shiprock, New Mexico, Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact Available

> View DOE GJO News Release Oct. 31, 2001

> Download Environmental Assessment (4.1M PDF) · FONSI (100k PDF)

UMTRA Ground Water Shiprock, New Mexico, Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Review April 25, 2001

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grand Junction Office (GJO) and Navajo UMTRA Program announce the availability of the Draft Environmental Assessment of Ground Water Compliance at the Shiprock, New Mexico, Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project Site.
> View DOE GJO News Release April 18, 2001

Notice of Floodplain/Wetlands Involvement for Ground Water Remediation Activities at Shiprock, New Mexico, Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Site

Excerpt from Notice in Federal Register Vol.66, No.58, p.16451 (March 26, 2001) (download full notice ):
"SUMMARY: The Department of Energy (DOE) hereby provides notice as required by 10 CFR part 1022, to conduct ground water remediation activities within the 100-year floodplain of the San Juan River at the Shiprock New Mexico Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Site, with possible impacts to wetlands. The site is located within the boundaries of the Navajo Indian Reservation. Activities are scheduled to commence in 2002, and consist of installation of extraction wells and pipeline to pump contaminated ground water from the alluvial aquifer to an evaporation pond on the terrace, in accordance with 40 CFR part 192, ''Health and Environmental Protection Standards for Uranium and Thorium Mill Tailings''. A floodplain/wetlands assessment has been prepared as an appendix to the environmental assessment (EA) that analyzes the potential environmental effects of this action.

DATES: Written comments are due to the address below no later than April 25, 2001."

> View Shiprock general site info · DOE-GJO groundwater info


North Dakota

Belfield and Bowman

Belfield and Bowman, North Dakota

No cleanup for Belfield and Bowman tailings sites

Excerpt from Notice in Federal Register Vol.63, No.51, p.13039- 13040 (Mar 17, 1998) (download full notice ):
"SUMMARY: In 1979, the Secretary of Energy designated inactive uranium milling sites, including two sites at Belfield and Bowman, North Dakota, for cleanup under the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978. In 1995, the State of North Dakota requested that the designations of the Belfield and Bowman sites be revoked citing its belief that there will be minimal risk to the public and the environment if the sites are not cleaned up and the State's inability to pay its 10 percent share of the cleanup costs required by UMTRCA.
The Department of Energy is proposing to revoke the designations of these sites because of the low risks to the public and the environment at the sites, DOE's lack of authority to clean up the two sites without costsharing by the State, and the existence of alternative authority to regulate the sites following revocation of the designations. Following revocation, these two sites will no longer be eligible for cleanup under the provisions of UMTRCA.

DATES: Public comments will be accepted on this proposed action. Comments should be submitted by April 16, 1998. If the Department does not receive any comments on this proposed action that would cause it to reconsider its proposal, the revocations shall be effective on May 18, 1998; and the Belfield and Bowman, North Dakota, processing sites and associated vicinity properties will no longer be eligible for remedial action by the Department of Energy under the provisions of UMTRCA."

> View Environmental Assessment of No Remedial Action at the Inactive Uraniferous Lignite Ashing Sites at Belfield and Bowman, North Dakota , EA-1206

> View Belfield and Bowman site info


Oregon

Lakeview

Lakeview, Oregon

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Lakeview site

Aerial view (processing site): Google Maps · MSRMaps
Aerial view (disposal site): Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

NRC approves "no remediation" groundwater compliance strategy for Lakeview processing site

The Lakeview, Oregon, Processing Site's groundwater compliance action plan (GCAP) received U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concurrence last month. This makes Lakeview the first Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA) of 1978, as amended, Title I site where a finalized GCAP has selected a "no remediation" compliance strategy because concentration limits for regulated constituents have been met.
> View DOE Legacy Management release July 12, 2013
> Download Groundwater Compliance Action Plan for the Lakeview, Oregon, Processing Site , June 2010 (7.8MB PDF)

DOE proposes "no further action" for groundwater cleanup at Lakeview

DOE's proposed compliance strategy for addressing the contamination in the groundwater associated with past milling activities at the Lakeview Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) site is "no further action". This proposal is based on the widespread, naturally occurring arsenic content in the water. According to DOE, this contamination was not a result of the milling activities that took place at the Lakeview former processing site.
A public meeting to discuss the proposed compliance strategy will be held on July 21, 1999.
(DOE GJO news release July 8, 1999 )

Riprap rock cover on reclaimed uranium mill tailings deposit does not meet longterm durability requirement

A riprap layer is often placed atop reclaimed mine tailings repositories to provide long-term erosion protection. Rock quality tests performed on samples taken from the cover of the reclaimed UMTRA uranium mill tailings impoundment near Lakeview, Oregon, indicated that the rock was suitable for erosion protection; the durability evaluation, however, suggested that the rock may disintegrate in 130 to 272 years. This is less than the applicable 200 - 1000 year longterm criteria.

Source:
Riprap rock durability versus rock quality: A case study; by C.I. Thornton, S.R. Abt, T.L. Johnson. In: Tailings and Mine Waste '97, Rotterdam/Brookfield 1997, ISBN 90 5410 857 6, p. 283-289

> View Lakeview general site info · DOE GJO groundwater site info


Pennsylvania

Canonsburg · Burrell (PA)

Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Canonsburg site

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

U.S. DOE to repair stream bank near Canonsburg uranium mill tailings disposal cell

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management (DOE-LM) will repair sections of the stream bank of Chartiers Creek near Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, damaged by floodwaters from Hurricanes Frances and Ivan. Restoration is scheduled to begin the first week of March 2005. Two areas along the Chartiers Creek stream bank at the Canonsburg Disposal Site were damaged during the floods. One area is in the northern portion of the site adjacent to the disposal cell. The disposal cell and drainage structures at the site were not damaged by the floods.
> Download DOE-LM release March 2, 2005 (PDF)

U.S. Department of Energy Stabilizing Southern Bank of Chartiers Creek

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grand Junction Office (GJO) is stabilizing the southern bank of the Chartiers Creek stream bank between the Strabane Avenue bridge abutment and the Pittsburgh Industrial Railroad Bridge abutment near Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. This work is being performed under the DOE Long Term Surveillance and Maintenance Program, which is charged with providing for the long-term care and maintenance of former millsites and associated properties.
The purpose of this stabilization is to prevent further erosion and sloughing of the stream bank into Chartiers Creek. Several active monitor wells are located in the former millsite area and are an integral part of the on-going ground water compliance strategy for the site. The stabilization of the stream bank is part of the commitment made to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the site was licensed in 1996. The remedial action project at Canonsburg, in which uranium mill tailings and associated materials were removed and stabilized in an on-site engineered disposal cell, was completed in 1985.
> View DOE GJO release (Dec. 5, 2000)

> View Canonsburg general site info · DOE-GJO groundwater info

 


Burrell disposal site, Pennsylvania

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Burrell site

Aerial View: Google Maps · MSRMaps

Beaver dam removed at Burrell tailings disposal site

"In 2005, inspectors found that the slough along the south side of the disposal cell, fed by ground water, had backed up as a result of a beaver dam on the slough west of the site boundary. The dam caused water to back up half way up the security fence. In November 2005, DOE coordinated with State wildlife officials to remove the beavers in accordance with State regulations, and then breached the dam. Water levels in the slough have returned to normal (PL–3). A smaller beaver dam remains that has caused some ponding of water, but is not currently considered problem enough to warrant removal; the water had not risen to the elevation of the contaminated materials within the cell." (2006 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, December 2006, U.S. DOE, Office of Legacy Management)


Texas

Falls City

Falls City, Karnes County, Texas

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Falls City site

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

Uranium concentrations in groundwater at Falls City uranium mill tailings deposit continue to increase; data validation report needs validation itself

Uranium concentrations in groundwater monitoring well 0891 at the Falls City disposal site continue to increase. While the concentrations remained below 0.5 mg/L between 1997 and 2008, they since increased considerably, reaching 3.6 mg/L in the 2016 sampling event.
Oddly enough, the time-concentration graph in the report (p.52) is inconsistent with the monitoring data. It appears that a (though imprecise) copy of the graph from the 2014 report (p.50) has been used with just the time scale shifted by two years.
Is this meant to be a new approach to cost savings in the area of environmental monitoring? No, DOE regrets the error and issued a corrected report:
> Download: Data Validation Package, April 2016 Groundwater Sampling at the Falls City, Texas, Disposal Site , Revision 1, September 2016 (5.4MB PDF - DOE LM)
> Download: Data Validation Package, February 2014 Groundwater Sampling at the Falls City, Texas, Disposal Site , April 2014 (16.1MB PDF - DOE LM)

Aggressive trees (!) and wild hogs (!!) attacking Falls City uranium mill tailings deposit integrity

The custodians of the tailings deposits in the U.S. are faced with attacks from no less than two new sides: while former aggressors included humans (either riddling warning signs with bullets, or planting claim stakes on top of the tailings), and animals (such as cattle, horses, and beavers), new hazards arise from aggressive Huisache trees and wild hogs (boars):
"A Huisache tree was growing along the fence line near perimeter sign P27 (PL-10). Huisache aggressively invade south Texas rangelands competing with other plants for water and nutrients. The tree was sprayed with herbicide in 2014 and will be removed.

Wild hogs burrow along the fence line in some areas. Their burrows are filled in by the maintenance contractor as they are located because they might compromise the integrity of the fence or create depressions that could result in damage to haying equipment. Several areas along the northwest fence line were disturbed by hogs, resulting in minor bare spots (PL-11)."

2015 Annual Site Inspection and Monitoring Report for Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Title I Disposal Sites, by U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Legacy Management, LMS/S13386, March 2016

DOE recommends discontinuation of groundwater monitoring at Falls City uranium mill tailings site, in spite of sharp increase of uranium concentration in groundwater

"The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends that following the collection of samples in the spring of 2011 that groundwater monitoring activities at the Falls City site be discontinued." [...]
"Prior to 2006, the maximum uranium concentration reported for monitoring well MW-0891 was 0.358 mg/L. In 2010, the uranium concentration was 2.1 mg/L. It is unclear if the increase in uranium in the Dilworth aquifer at monitoring well MW-0891 is due to the redistribution of natural uranium mineralization in the aquifer or due to legacy contamination from ore processing activities."
> Download: Groundwater Monitoring Assessment, Falls City, Texas, Disposal Site , December 2010, U.S. DOE Legacy Management (18.4MB PDF)

Relaxed Groundwater Standards

The Environmental Assessment of the Groundwater Compliance Activities at the Falls City, Texas, Uranium Mill Tailings Site, and the Finding of No Significant Impact are available to public. The Environmental Assessment for the Falls City site analyzed the potential environmental impacts of the proposed action for applying supplemental (=relaxed) standards, which is the compliance strategy determined appropriate for residual ground water contamination that exists in the shallow ground water as a result of the former milling operations. It was determined that the proposed action will not result in the need for an Environmental Impact Statement and it complies with the Environmental Protection Agency's Ground Water Regulations (40 U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 192). (see DOE GJO release Apr.15, 1998 )

> Download Environmental Assessment of Ground-Water Compliance at the Falls City, Texas, Uranium Mill Tailings Site , U.S. DOE, DOE/EA-1227, March 1998 (PDF)

> View Falls City general site info · DOE GJO groundwater site info


Utah

Green River · Mexican Hat · Monticello · Salt Lake City

Green River, Utah

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Green River site

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

License for Long-Term Custody

"On August 20, 1998, the Division of Waste Management (DWM) placed the Green River, Utah, site under a general license consistent with the provisions of 10 CFR 40.27. The Green River disposal site was reclaimed by the Department of Energy (DOE) under Title I of the Uranium Mill Tailings Act of 1978.
DOE is in the process of completing the Title I program. Four sites are left to be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Work at two of these sites is complete, and DWM is awaiting information from DOE to complete licensing. DWM anticipates that the licensing of the Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico, and Slick Rock, Colorado, sites should be complete in September/October. The remaining two sites at Maybell and Naturita, Colorado, will be licensed in early 1999 once DOE completes reclamation work." (NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending August 28, 1998)

> View Green River general site info · DOE GJO groundwater site info


Mexican Hat, Utah

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Mexican Hat site

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

Depressions indicating internal erosion identified on cover of Mexican Hat uranium mill tailings disposal cell

"During DOE-LM's annual site inspection of the Mexican Hat disposal site, the DOE-LM site manager and the Legacy Management Support (Contractor) site lead identified several slight depressions on the northeast flank of the disposal cell near the toe of the cell, adjacent to the angular rock that constitutes the toe drain. [...] The depressions are assumed to be caused by minor erosion beneath the rock cover. No evidence pointing to previous construction tracks or driving on the area was noted.
The depressions are scattered within an area of approximately 100 feet by 100 feet and are roughly 6 inches in depth below the top of the rock cell cover. The cell cover is composed of a 24-inch clay radon barrier, overlain by 6 inches of bedding gravel, and finished with 24 inches of rock cover. Pending further evaluation, it is postulated that bedding gravels may be eroding beneath the rock cover. Initial observations indicate that the 24-inch radon barrier has not been breached.
These depressions are an undesirable change in the cell cover integrity and will require further assessment, [...]."
(DOE letter to NRC, May 5, 2016)


Monticello, San Juan County, Utah

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Monticello site

Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

Even improved active groundwater remediation shows little effect at former Monticello uranium mill tailings site

"The progress of the groundwater remedy optimization system will ultimately be measured by uranium concentration trending in the AOA [area of attainment] that project toward the remediation goal. Despite effective removal of contaminated groundwater volume (approximately 4 pore volumes within the AOA) and the mass of uranium removed to date (approximately 47 pounds), a corresponding downward trend in uranium concentration is not evident, and uranium concentrations remain greater than 30 times the remediation goal. The data indicate that a prolonged remediation period is possible even under the aggressive approach of pump-and-treat technology." [emphasis added] (Monticello Mill Tailings Site Operable Unit III, Annual Groundwater Report, May 2015 Through April 2016, U.S. Department of Energy, Legacy Management, October 2016)

Improved active groundwater remediation replaced failed natural attenuation scheme at former Monticello uranium mill tailings site

"[...] The contingency remedy was then optimized in 2015 by implementing an expanded pump-and-treat remediation approach that is formally referred to as the OU III groundwater contingency remedy optimization system. [...] Under that plan, groundwater is extracted in a focused area of the aquifer (referred to as the area of attainment [AOA]) and piped to a control/transfer building from where the water is conveyed through a buried water pipeline approximately 1 mile to the solar evaporation pond (Pond 4) at the LM repository for evaporative treatment. [...] The system became fully operational in February 2015."
"The conceptual approach of focused remediation in the AOA is not to remediate the entire aquifer but to meet remediation goals in the most contaminated region of the aquifer. Uranium concentrations throughout the AOA are about 1 mg/L."
"The groundwater contingency remedy optimization system captures significant contaminant mass (primarily uranium) from the area of attainment; however, because that system only became operational in 2015, a long-term forecast of restoration progress is premature." (Monticello Mill Tailings Site Operable Unit III, Annual Groundwater Report, May 2014 Through April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy, Legacy Management, October 2015)

Natural attenuation scheme remains ineffective for groundwater remediation at former Monticello uranium mill tailings site

"Although some regions of the aquifer demonstrate decreasing concentration trends, such trending is not evident for the bulk of the aquifer and a prolonged restoration period (>100 years) is indicated. For example, uranium concentrations in groundwater remain more than an order of magnitude above the restoration goal in 15 years after source removal." (Monticello Mill Tailings Site Operable Unit III, Annual Groundwater Report, May 2013 Through April 2014, U.S. Department of Energy, Legacy Management, October 2014)

DOE presents plan for improved active groundwater remediation at former Monticello uranium mill tailings site, replacing failed natural attenuation scheme

In May 2014, DOE submitted a work plan for an improved active groundwater remediation at the former Monticello uranium mill tailings site, replacing the failed natural attenuation scheme. Contaminated groundwater will be pumped by eight vertical extraction wells and piped to existing evaporation ponds. DOE, however, recognizes that even with this "agressive approach" restoring the aquifer to current remediation goals may not be feasible in a reasonable time (within 50 years as defined in the OU III ROD for natural attenuation).
> Download: Final Groundwater Contingency Remedy Optimization Remedial Design/Remedial Action Work Plan for the Monticello Mill Tailings Site Operable Unit III, Monticello, Utah, LMS/MNT/S10629, May 2014 (6.1MB PDF)
EPA Region 8 approved the work plan on June 20, 2014.

Memorial for cancer victims dedicated at site of former Monticello uranium mill

In the southeastern Utah town of Monticello Friday evening (May 7), cancer survivors dedicated a memorial on the site of an old uranium mill.
The goal of the Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure (VMTE) committee is to somehow convince the government pick up not only the cancer screening cost, but the cancer treatment costs as well. (ABC 4 News May 7, 2010)

Monticello Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure (VMTE) Committee receives additional funding for cancer screening

Local leaders of the Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure (VMTE) were elated last week to receive an additional $381,000 in federal funding. This money, along with funds already received, and an application for another grant next year, will go a long way toward the goal of screening everyone who has ever lived in Monticello and surrounding areas for cancer. Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett were instrumental in obtaining this new funding.
What this funding means is that anyone who lived in the Monticello area between 1941 and 2000 can go to the State Health Deptartment Office in the San Juan County Courthouse in Monticello and, after proving residency during at least a few of those years, receive a voucher. The voucher holder may then receive a complete screening at the San Juan Hospital. The screening will ascertain whether or not the voucher bearer has any symptoms of cancer through extensive blood work and other tests. (San Juan Record March 25, 2009)

Study finds higher cancer risks for residents near former Monticello uranium mill

A new study, released by the state Department of Health and prepared by epidemiologist John Contreras, found an elevated risk of lung, bronchial and stomach cancers among Monticello residents during several five-year time periods from 1973 to 2004. Completed in December 2007, the study is one of several completed since 1997 by federal and state agencies in response to residents' fears. Contreras said on Feb. 29, 2008, that the cancers have been linked to exposure to toxins released during uranium and vanadium processing, but the 2007 study is unable to draw a direct link. "We can't definitively say ... that the significantly elevated incidence of cancer is associated with the mill," Contreras said. Still, the new findings are welcome news to Monticello residents, who have long claimed that the mill made people sick. (Salt Lake Tribune Feb. 29, 2008)

> Download Cancer incidence study, a follow-up study of cancer incidence in Monticello City, Utah - 1973-2004, December 27, 2007 (1.7M PDF, Utah DOH)
> View related reports and links (Utah DOH)

Database to be extended for study on cancer incidence among residents at former Monticello uranium mill site

State health officials have launched a new phase of their health probe in Monticello, where residents suspect a government uranium mill is to blame for decades of cancer cases and deaths. "We hope that these next steps will bring us closer to understanding the cancer incidence in Monticello and any possible connection to the mill," said David N. Sundwall, state health executive director.
Sundwall's team promised in May 2006 to look for ways to fill in information gaps in the state's data about cancer in the area. It turns out that standard health study practices excluded much information. They would not allow the Health Department to count the cancers of people who had moved out of the southeastern Utah community and people who had died before the cancer registry began. The health department plans to complete its data-gathering by the year's end. (The Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 4, 2006)

Study finds no increased cancer incidence among residents at former Monticello uranium mill site

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) report, compiled by its office of epidemiology, concluded that the incidence of cancers in zip code 84535 (Monticello and surroundings) is "not statistically significant." However, the report cautioned that the health department's study is just preliminary and did not include cancers diagnosed prior to 1973, the year the Utah Cancer Registry began, and that it also didn't include cases diagnosed outside Utah.
The mill operated on the south side of town from 1943 to the beginning of 1960, processing both vanadium and uranium. The uranium ore, trucked in from hundreds of mines in the area, was pulverized into fine yellow dust that was blown by the prevailing winds across the town, and was tracked home by workers to unsuspecting family members. After shutdown of the mill, the tailings piles became a favorite playground for children, and provided "sand" for sandboxes, brick mortar and road base.
The town first noticed what might be cancer clusters in the 1960s when seven young people living within blocks of each other died of leukemia. Since then, there have been at least 18 other leukemia cases, according to a health survey prepared by grass-roots group Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure (VTME). VMTE's list includes more than 416 cancers; the UDOH's study included 141. (Deseret News May 25, 2006)

> Download Health Consultation - An Investigation of Cancer Incidence in Monticello, Utah - Monticello, San Juan, Utah, May 17, 2006, Prepared by Utah Department of Health (1.4M PDF - Utah DOH)
> View related reports and links (Utah DOH)

DOE Inspector General criticizes DOE's oversight over reclamation of Monticello uranium mill tailings site (Utah)

"The Department entered into a cooperative agreement with the City [of Monticello] in June 1999 that, among other things, required the restoration of the mill site and certain associated areas. [...]
Our audit disclosed that the Department did not effectively monitor or control certain aspects of the restoration of the Monticello Mill Site. The restoration of the site was completed as required; however, the City did not adequately maintain the site, and it suffered significant erosion. The Department took action to correct erosion problems that were of immediate concern, but it did not ensure that the City used funds provided under the agreement for long-term maintenance of the mill site."

> Download Audit Report - Restoration of the Monticello Mill Site at Monticello, Utah, DOE/IG-0665, October 2004 (PDF)

DOE invites public comment on proposed cleanup approach by natural attenuation for Monticello OU III tailings site

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a Proposed Plan that presents the preferred remedial alternative for Operable Unit III of the Monticello Mill Tailings Site near Monticello, Utah. Operable Unit III encompasses contaminated surface water and ground water at and hydraulically downgradient of the former Monticello millsite. DOE believes that monitored natural attenuation with institutional controls provides the best balance of tradeoffs among the cleanup alternatives being considered.
> Download DOE GJO release Nov. 24, 2003 (PDF)

Comments will be accepted through January 15, 2004.

> View DOE GJO Monticello projects

EPA deletes parts of Monticello Mill Tailings site from National Priorities (Superfund) List

Federal Register: August 13, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 156), p. 48314-48321 (download full text )
"... This partial deletion pertains to a portion of the Site designated as the Operable Unit (OU) II Non-Surface and Ground-Water Impacted Peripheral Properties, which are located within OU II of the Site. The OU II Non- Surface and Ground-Water Impacted Peripheral Properties are 22 of the 34 total properties that comprise OU II. These 22 properties were selected for deletion from the NPL because the primary contaminants of concern, radioactive materials in soils and sediment, have been removed to levels protective of human health and the environment, and because no radiological or nonradiological contamination is present in surface water or ground water located on these properties. [...]

DATES: This direct final partial deletion will be effective October 14, 2003, unless EPA receives adverse comments by September 12, 2003. ..."

Cleanup of 424 Monticello Vicinity Properties completed

Excerpt from Notice in Federal Register Vol.64, No.250, p.73423-73427 (Dec. 30, 1999) (download full notice ):
"SUMMARY: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 8, announces the deletion of the Monticello Radioactive Contaminated Properties Site (Site), located in Monticello, Utah, from the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution and Contingency Plan (NCP), which EPA promulgated pursuant to section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (CERCLA). EPA, with the preliminary concurrence of the State of Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), has determined that responsible parties have implemented all appropriate response actions required and that no further response at the Site is appropriate.

DATES: This direct final rule will be effective February 28, 2000, unless EPA receives significant adverse or critical comments by January 31, 2000."

Interim ROD for the Monticello Surface and Ground Water Remedial Action Project

"On September 29, 1998, an Interim Record of Decision (ROD) for the Monticello Mill Tailings Site Surface and Ground Water Operable Unit III (OU III) was signed by the Environmental Protection Agency, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, and the U. S. Department of Energy." [...]
> View DOE GJO release (Nov. 17, 1998)

> View Monticello site info


Salt Lake City, Utah

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Salt Lake City sites

Aerial view (processing site): Google Maps · MSRMaps
Aerial view (South Clive disposal site): Google Maps · MSRMaps (sourrounded by Energy Solutions' radwaste disposal site)


Wyoming

Riverton · Spook

Riverton, Fremont County, Wyoming

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Riverton site

> Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps

Ongoing study investigates possible link between uranium contamination at former Riverton uranium mill site and high cancer rates on Wind River Indian Reservation

On the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming, an ongoing community health study may finally link uranium contamination to residents' high rates of normally rare cancers.
The old Susquehanna-Western mill, located a few miles southwest of Riverton, the ninth-most-populated city in Wyoming, began processing uranium and vanadium ore in 1958, using sulfuric acid to extract the elements from rock. The mill closed in 1963, but its sulfuric acid plant is still in production. When the mill shut down, Susquehanna-Western left behind massive piles of contaminated materials, commonly known as tailings, for two decades. While finally removed in the late 1980s, contamination persists.
The reservation's water supply runs through the former Susquehanna-Western uranium mill site. Many of members of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes who reside on the 2.2 million-acre reservation opt to use piped-in water supplies instead of their wells to avoid further exposure to the toxins.
Director of The Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center (RMTEC) Folo Akintan says despite the history, "there has never been a community health impact assessment" on the reservation. The data analysis is still in-progress. RMTEC will take another six months to complete data collection and analysis. (Indian Country Today Nov. 5, 2012)

 

Impacts of 2010 flooding on groundwater quality at former Riverton uranium mill site

Natural flushing of contaminated aquifer at Riverton site may not be accomplished in 100-year regulatory time frame: "Although still above their respective MCLs (maximum concentration limits), molybdenum and uranium concentrations in the surficial aquifer groundwater have returned to their pre-flood levels after the increases that followed the 2010 flood of the Little Wind River. However, numerous lines of evidence, including updated groundwater modeling, indicate that the rate of natural flushing may not be rapid enough to meet the 100-year regulatory limit."
> Download: 2013 Verification Monitoring Report, Riverton, Wyoming, Processing Site , LMS/RVT/S11203, U.S. DOE, Legacy Management, April 2014 (38.1MB PDF)

Natural flushing of contaminated aquifer at Riverton site found to perform slower than anticipated: The Department of Energy says it's unlikely that the high levels of uranium at a contaminated site on Wind River Reservation will flush out of the groundwater naturally in 100 years, like they previously thought. DOE initiated additional data collection at the site after a flood in 2010 caused uranium levels to spike even higher.  In a new report, the agency says it's not totally clear where the uranium that caused those spike came from.
> Download: 2012 Enhanced Characterization and Monitoring Report, Riverton, Wyoming, Processing Site , LMS/RVT/S09799, U.S. DOE, Legacy Management, June 2013 (5.4MB PDF)

DOE releases data summary report for groundwater and soil tests conducted at former Riverton uranium mill site after 2010 flooding: On Feb. 19, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the availability of a Data Summary Report of enhanced characterization fieldwork conducted in August 2012 at the Riverton, Wyoming, Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA) Site. "The Department will use the data to assess why levels of groundwater contamination in monitoring wells increased after the 2010 historic flood event of the Little Wind River," said Bill Dam, DOE Riverton site manager. "The next step is to analyze and interpret the data."
> Download: Enhanced Characterization of the Surficial Aquifer Riverton, Wyoming, Processing Site, Data Summary Report, LMS/RVT/S09545 , U.S. Department of Energy, Legacy Management, January 2013 (19MB PDF)

Contaminant concentrations in surficial aquifer at former Riverton uranium mill site remain high after 2010 flooding: "Concentrations of molybdenum and uranium in samples collected in 2011 from wells affected by the flood are less than 2010 levels but have not returned to pre-flood levels."
> Download: Verification Monitoring Report for the Riverton, Wyoming, Processing Site, Update for 2011 , April 2012, U.S. DOE Legacy Management, LMS/RVT/S08569 (4.7MB PDF)

Flooding causes dramatic increases in contaminant concentrations in surficial aquifer at former Riverton uranium mill site: "Uranium and molybdenum are the indicator constituents for compliance monitoring at the Riverton site, and concentrations are still above their respective MCLs (maximum concentration limits). Flooding of the Little Wind River (in June 2010) caused dramatic increases in contaminant concentrations in surficial aquifer monitoring wells located in flooded areas. The flood resulted in wells on the western edge of the plume to have concentrations above the uranium MCL."
> Download: Verification Monitoring Report for the Riverton, Wyoming, Processing Site, Update for 2010 , February 2011, U.S. DOE Legacy Management, LMS/RVT/S07202 (4.4MB PDF)

 

Relaxed groundwater standards

The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grand Junction Office (GJO) announces the availability of the final Environmental Assessment of Ground-Water Compliance at the Riverton, Wyoming, Uranium Mill Tailings Site document, and Finding of No Significant Impact.
The Environmental Assessment analyzed the potential environmental impacts of the proposed action for applying supplemental standards at the Riverton site; supplemental standards is the compliance strategy determined appropriate for residual ground-water contamination that exists in the shallow ground water as a result of the former milling operations.
> View DOE GJO release (Oct 14, 1998)

> View Riverton general site info · DOE GJO groundwater site info


Spook, Converse County, Wyoming

> U.S. DOE Office of Legacy Management: Spook site

> Aerial view: Google Maps

Adoption of "No action" approach leaves 3.8 million m3 of contaminated groundwater uncleaned

from: NRC Weekly Information Report for the Week Ending October 10, 1997:
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards

"Completion of Groundwater Reclamation at Spook Mill

On October 8, 1997, Division of Waste Management staff concurred on the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Groundwater Compliance Action Plan (GCAP) for the Spook Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project site at Spook, Wyoming. The groundwater restoration phase of the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project was initiated by DOE's final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). As set forth in the GCAP, DOE's approach requires No remedial action to the groundwater at the Spook site since there is No apparent risk to human health or the environment because there is No known exposure pathway. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff determined that the "No action" approach for this site satisfies the requirements set forth in the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (UMTRCA), and the standards in 40 CFR 192, Subparts B and C for the cleanup of groundwater contamination resulting from the processing of ores for the extraction of uranium. NRC had previously concurred on the surface cleanup of the Spook site and licensed it for long-term care. With the NRC concurrence on the GCAP, remedial action for this site as required under the UMTRCA is considered complete. Spook is the first uranium mill tailings site where NRC has concurred on all of the actions required of DOE for both surface and groundwater remediation since the DOE PEIS was issued."

> View Environmental Assessment of Ground-Water Compliance Activities at the Uranium Mill Tailings Site, Spook, Wyoming , EA-1155

> View Spook general site info · DOE GJO groundwater site info


> View background information on Uranium Mill Tailings Management - USA

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