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(last updated 18 Dec 2023)


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


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


U.S. Government Accountability Office calls for better program management at cleanup of contaminated legacy sites

> View here

Disa seeks license for use of High-Pressure Slurry Ablation (HPSA) technology to remediate existing waste piles containing uranium (USA)

> View here

Evapotranspiration cover to replace rock armor cover of several uranium mill tailings deposits

During a public meeting held by the U.S. NRC in Gallup, New Mexico, on April 22, 2022, DOE conceded that the non-vegetated rock armor top cover used for uranium tailings deposits, while intended to last for 1000 years, presents problems due to the continuous need for vegetation control. DOE, therefore, considers to replace the cover at several sites by an evapotranspiration (ET) cover with radon barrier.
> Watch video recording
> See also: On Sep. 23, 2022, NRC released NUREG/CR-7297 "Basis for Technical Guidance to Evaluate Evapotranspiration Covers".
> Download: NUREG/CR-7297 (7.7MB PDF)

Radon barriers at four U.S. uranium mill tailings disposal sites mostly remain functional after about 20 years of service, study finds

"To evaluate the properties of earthen covers over uranium mill tailings disposal cells after about 20 years of service, we measured Rn-222 fluxes and radon barrier properties at the Falls City, TX, Bluewater, NM, Shirley Basin South, WY, and Lakeview, OR disposal sites in western USA.
A total of 115 in-service Rn fluxes were obtained at 26 test pit locations from the top surface of the exposed Rn barrier (i.e., after protective layers were removed by excavation) and 24 measurements were obtained from the surface of the underlying waste after excavation through the Rn barrier layer. Rn-222 concentrations were determined in accumulation chambers using a continuously monitoring electronic radon monitor (ERM) equipped with a solid-state alpha particle detector. Effects of surface features on Rn flux including vegetation, seasonal ponding, and animal burrowing were quantified.
Comparison of measured fluxes with values that were measured shortly after the Rn barriers were completed (as-built) show that most measurements fell within the range of the as-built fluxes, generally at very low fluxes. At two sites fluxes were measured that were greater than the highest as-built flux. High fluxes are typically caused by a combination of enhanced moisture removal and preferential pathways for Rn transport, often caused by deep-rooted plants. Such localized features result in a spatially heterogeneous distribution of fluxes that can vary substantially over only a meter or two."
Radon fluxes at four uranium mill tailings disposal sites after about 20 years of service, by Fuhrmann M, Benson CH, Likos WJ, et al., in: Journal of environmental radioactivity Aug. 25, 2021; aheadofprint

Evaluation of In-Service Radon Barriers over Uranium Mill Tailings Disposal Facilities, NUREG/CR-7288, U.S. NRC, March 2022: Vol. 1 (105MB PDF) · Vol. 2 (Appendices) (18MB PDF)

Congressional Research Service report explores issue of inadequate funding mechanisms for decommissioning and long-term maintenance of uranium mill tailings

A report issued by the U.S. Congressional Research Service on Feb. 22, 2021, explores the issue of inadequate funding mechanisms for decommissioning of uranium mill tailings under the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA).
"Transfer Status and Funding
[...] Section 203 of UMTRCA authorized NRC to collect a bond or other financial arrangement to pay for the costs in the event that a licensee was unable to fulfill all of their decommissioning requirements. UMTRCA does not authorize the use of federal funding to pay for the decommissioning of Title II sites.105 In the event that the bond were insufficient to pay for the full decommissioning costs, UMTRCA provides no additional mechanism for funding to complete decommissioning. In some instances, Title II licensees have lacked adequate financial resources to complete NRC's decommissioning requirements.106 If left unreclaimed, exposure risks from releases of radiological and nonradiological contaminants may present issues to affected communities. The magnitude of public health and environmental risks posed by unreclaimed tailings may vary among individual sites. [...]" (p.20-21)
105 [...]
106 For example, see NRC's discussion of insolvencies and license transfer issues in NRC, "Staff Requirements -- SECY-17-0081 -- Status and Resolution of Issues Associated with the Transfer of Six Decommissioning Uranium Mill Sites to the State of Wyoming ," October 4, 2017.
[See also: Policy Issue (Notation Vote) -- SECY-17-0081 -- Status and Resolution of Issues Associated with the Transfer of Six Decommissioning Uranium Mill Sites to the State of Wyoming , NRC Aug. 16, 2017]
The report further discusses, among others, the adequacy of the long-time surveillance charge (LTSC) to be paid by the licensee to cover monitoring and maintenance cost, once a Title-II site (after reclamation by the licensee has been completed) has been transferred to DOE-LM (Legacy Management).
"Long-Term Financial Assurance [...] Title II Sites
In the 1980 Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement for uranium milling, NRC described the justification for the minimum LTSC fee based on the assumption that average long-term monitoring at UMTRCA Title II sites would cost $2,500 per year.113 NRC assumed an average annual real rate of return, and each licensee is required to pay the minimum one-time LTSC of $250,000 (in 1978 dollars, adjusted for inflation).114 NRC has not revised the minimum LTSC since regulations were promulgated in 1985.115 NRC allows for the minimum LTSC fee to be increased based on expected site-specific surveillance or controls requirements if needed.116 UMTRCA does not authorize a mechanism to recover additional fees from licensees once the license has been transferred to DOE-LM." (p.22)
113 NRC, "Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Uranium Milling ," [NUREG-0706] vol. 1, p. 14-14. "Since the conservatively estimated average annual long-term monitoring cost is about $2,500, assuming an average one percent real rate of return, a $250,000 deposit (1978 dollars) per site would be necessary to cover the costs for long-term monitoring activities."
114 [...], 115 [...], 116 [...]
> Download: Long-Term Federal Management of Uranium Mill Tailings: Background and Issues for Congress, Updated February 22, 2021 , Congressional Research Service (1.44MB PDF)

GAO identifies challenges to be dealt with at decommissioned sites under responsibility of DOE Legacy Management

A report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on May 13 details challenges faced by LM (Legacy Management) at some sites, including erosion and environmental conditions. It recommends that LM develop procedures and plans for handling new cleanup work beyond the scope of its mission, capabilities, and resources, as well as for assessing the effects of climate change on its sites. (DOE LM May 15, 2020)
> Download: Environmental Liabilities, DOE Needs to Better Plan for Post-Cleanup Challenges Facing Sites , Report to the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, United States Government Accountability Office, May 2020


DOE Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program

> View Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program , DOE Office of Legacy Management (LM)

Assessment of 73% of abandoned Defense-Related Uranium Mines on public land completed

The Defense-Related Uranium Mines (DRUM) team completed a major milestone March 28 by delivering 507 verification and validation (V&V) mine visits ahead of schedule. [...] "This goal was a crucial step in reaching the program's milestone of completing approximately 2,500 mines on public land by September 30, 2023," said LM's DRUM Team Technical Lead William Burns. "Approximately 1,830 mines have been completed to date." [...]
DRUM is expected to continue additional field work on public lands and tribal lands in 2022. [...] "Mines on private lands will be visited by DRUM field teams starting in 2024," Burns said. (DOE LM Apr. 26, 2022)

96% of uranium mines abandoned on tribal lands in the U.S. are located in Navajo Nation area

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Legacy Management (LM) Defense-Related Uranium Mine (DRUM) program has identified approximately 360 mines on the Navajo Nation and other tribal lands. DRUM is a partnership between DOE, federal land management agencies, state abandoned mine lands (AML) programs, and tribal governments to assess the potential risks of mines that provided uranium ore to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) for defense-related activities.
LM has already identified the tribal lands where defense-related uranium mines are found. The vast majority -- 96 percent -- are on the Navajo Nation. The remaining fourteen mines are located on the lands of the Hualapai Tribe, the Pueblo of Laguna, the Pueblo of Zuni, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, the Tohono O'odham Nation, and the Ute Indian Tribe. (DOE LM Dec. 15, 2021)

DOE issues first Annual Report on assessment of abandoned Defense-Related Uranium Mines

By the end of FY 2017, verification and validation of 362 mines out of the 2500 mines under review was completed. Initial risk scoring assessments of 113 mines on federal public land in Colorado and Utah were completed.
> Download: Defense-Related Uranium Mines FY 2017 Annual Report (October 1, 2016–September 30, 2017) , U.S. DOE Legacy Management, August 2018 (5MB PDF )

DOE issues management plan for the assessment of 2500 abandoned uranium mines in the U.S.

In its Defense Related Uranium Mines, Report to Congress (2014) DOE identified 4,225 mines that provided uranium ore to the U.S. government for defense-related purposes between 1947 and 1970. Meanwhile, the Abandoned Uranium Mine Multi-Agency Working Group (AUMWG) was founded, which is composed of federal agencies including DOE, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, BLM, the Department of the Interior, USFS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Through the AUMWG collaboration, DOE, BLM, and USFS determined that many unknowns (i.e., status, location, ownership) still exist for the approximate 2500 mines on public lands and national forests.
In July 2017, DOE released the Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program Management Plan 2017-2021. The program's goal is to verify and validate 2500 mines located on BLM- and USFS-managed lands by 2022.

> See also: Abandoned uranium mines report


Modeling effort fails to analyze water balance of soil covers at selected uranium mill tailings sites

This report focuses on simulations of net infiltration and deep percolation through soil covers at three Title-II-In-Closure uranium mill tailing impoundments: The simulations documented in this report were performed to lay groundwork for estimating whether or not earthen soil covers installed over Title-II-In-Closure uranium mill tailings impoundments prevent net infiltration of meteoric water from entering the tailings. The simulations are not intended to determine if original pore water within the tailings is continuing to drain into underlying soil. Due to numerical issues associated with the simulations, in-depth analysis of the parameters and their uncertainty affecting the simulation of net infiltration was not possible within the funding and timeframe of the contract.
Firm conclusions regarding the performance of the tailings covers at the Gas Hills West, Highland, and Church Rock sites cannot be drawn from the simulation reports due to the water balance errors, uncertainty in the water balance components reported by Vadose/W and the discrepancies between the apparent water balances and changes in volumetric water contents in the model domains.
> Download: Final Report - Modeling of net infiltration through soil covers at selected Title II uranium mill tailings sites , Prepared by Gary Walter, Cynthia Dinwiddie, Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses, San Antonio, Texas, April 2015 (7.7MB PDF) [released in ADAMS on Feb. 10, 2017]


Indigenous protest in Washington, D.C., against toxic threat from 15,000 abandoned uranium mines in the U.S.

On Thursday, January 28 at 12:30 PM, representatives of Indigenous organizations from the Southwest, Northern Great Plains, and supporters called for "no nukes" in a protest addressing radioactive pollution caused by 15,000 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) posing a toxic threat in the US. The demonstration was held at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters to call for immediate clean up of these hazardous sites, protection of Indigenous sacred areas from uranium mining, and for intervention in communities where drinking water is poisoned with radioactive contamination. The groups charged that the EPA has been negligent in addressing these toxic threats that severely threaten public health, lands, and waterways.
From January 25-28, Clean Up The Mines , Defenders of the Black Hills , Diné No Nukes , Laguna and Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment & Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment , and Indigenous World Alliance, met members of congress, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, DC.
The Clean Up The Mines! campaign is focused on passing the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act that would ensure clean up of all AUMs. The act was submitted as a draft to Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) two years ago but has yet to be introduced to Congress. (Eurasia Review Jan. 30, 2016)


DOE Land Management invites comment on draft 2016 - 2020 Strategic Plan

DOE LM is updating the current Strategic Plan that covers the years 2011 through 2020. LM would appreciate ideas and comments on how LM can ensure effective and efficient protection of human health and the environment.
LM is the Department's lead for an interagency effort to address the environmental impact of over 4,000 uranium mines that provided ore to the Atomic Energy Commission.
The comment period will close December 4, 2015.
> View DOE LM release and download draft LM 2016 - 2020 Strategic Plan


DOE's long-term surveillance and maintenance costs for UMTRCA Title II uranium mill tailings sites by far exceed revenue available from mill operator assessments, Inspector General finds

"RESULTS OF AUDIT: We identified opportunities for the Department to improve its administration of the long-term surveillance and maintenance costs of its Title II sites. Specifically, we found that the Department's costs for long-term surveillance and maintenance of its Title II sites exceeded revenue available from mill operator assessments.
Legacy Management's costs during Fiscal Years (FY) 2010 through 2012 for long-term surveillance and control activities at the six sites it managed exceeded revenue by $4.1 million. During this time, Legacy Management spent $4.25 million; however, the associated revenue generated from the surveillance charges totaled only $148,000. Additionally, Legacy Management spent $1.1 million for pre-transfer activities at other Title II sites that are not yet under its control and for which no provision exists for mill operators to cover the costs. Recognizing these challenges, Legacy Management has taken certain steps to address the issues associated with site transfers; however, further work is needed."
> Download: AUDIT REPORT - Management of Long-Term Surveillance and Maintenance of Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 Title II Sites , OAS-L-15-02, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General, Office of Audits and Inspections, October 2014


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

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


Abandoned uranium mines report

> View DOE LM Abandoned Uranium Mines

DOE releases Defense-Related Uranium Mines Report to Congress:
"Based on a review of AEC records and available data from numerous agencies, there are 4,225 mines that provided uranium ore to the U.S. government for defense-related purposes between 1947 and 1970."
"Different agencies have made varying levels of progress on reclamation and remediation of abandoned mines in the United States; however, the cleanup status of only 15 percent of defense]related uranium mines could be confirmed."
"Radon inhalation was the largest contributor to the risk estimates for all receptors, followed by exposure to external gamma radiation. Risks from other pathways (e.g., ingestion of plants, meat, milk, and soil) are small compared to the radon and external gamma radiation pathways. Of the five receptors evaluated, the risk estimates for the onsite resident and reclamation worker exceeded 10-4, which is the upper end of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) acceptable range of 10-6 to 10-4 for an incremental lifetime cancer risk. EPA's risk range was used for comparison in this risk evaluation. For the onsite resident, with estimated risks up to 10-1, risks would result primarily from the inhalation of radon that emanates from the wasterock pile or foundation material and diffuses into the house."
> Download: Defense Related Uranium Mines, Report to Congress , United States Department of Energy, August 2014 (20 p.)

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

Uranium Recovery Sites Undergoing Decommissioning (NRC)


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

Bokan Mountain

USDA Forest Service finalizes Settlement Agreement with Newmont Corp. for cleanup of Ross Adams Mine Site - to make way for rare earths exploration nearby

The federal government has finalized its agreement with a Colorado mining company to permanently seal a former uranium mine in Southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest.
Impetus for this project comes from a separate mineral exploration effort about a mile away from the Prince of Wales site. Canada's Ucore has been investing in rare earths exploration on Bokan Mountain. Cleaning up the radioactive waste will be key for the mining company to access Kendrick Bay where material and equipment is hauled in and out by barge. (KRBD Dec. 3, 2020)

USDA Forest Service seeks comment on Settlement Agreement for cleanup of Ross Adams Mine Site

The USDA Forest Service is seeking comments on the Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Removal Action (ASAOC) for the Ross Adams Mine Site. On January 17, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service, Region 10 entered into an ASAOC with Newmont USA Limited and Dawn Mining Company, LLC.
The ASAOC requires Newmont and Dawn to perform a comprehensive cleanup on site addressing all significant environmental contamination at an estimated cost of $7.2 million.
Submit comments by August 7, 2020.
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 131 (Wednesday, July 8, 2020) p. 40963 (download full text )
> Access site documents: Ross Adams Mine Cleanup Project (Forest Service)

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

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


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


USGS study finds highest uranium concentrations in groundwater of the Grand Canyon region at abandoned Orphan mine site

Nearly 95% of samples collected from 206 locations over 40 years show uranium concentrations less than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Level for drinking water [30 µg/L], according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report.
The highest uranium concentrations [up to 293 µg/L] were observed at springs downslope from the abandoned Orphan Mine within Grand Canyon National Park. Ongoing studies are looking at the potential link between the mine and its possible effects on the water chemistry at the springs.
> View: USGS release Nov. 16, 2021
> View: An assessment of uranium in groundwater in the Grand Canyon region , Nature Scientific Reports, Nov. 16, 2021

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

> View here

Navajo Nation

> View here

Red Bluff Mine, Gila County

Forest Service invites comment on draft Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis for abandoned Red Bluff Mine

Tonto National Forest officials are requesting public comment on the Draft Report of the Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) for the Red Bluff Uranium Mine Site, an abandoned mine located on the the boundary between the Pleasant Valley and Tonto Basin Ranger Districts, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.
All public comments are due by close of business, Thursday, August 16, 2018.
> View: Forest Service announcement, July 12, 2018: Red Bluff Uranium Mine Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis Report Available for Public Review and 30 Day Comment Period Tonto National Forest, Pleasant Valley/Tonto Basin Ranger Districts
> Download: Red Bluff Uranium Mine Site Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis , June 2017

Workman Creek Mine Sites, Gila County

Forest Service invites comment on draft Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis for abandoned Workman Creek Mine Sites

The Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, is developing an environmental cleanup plan for the Workman Creek Uranium Mines (Site) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The Site is located on the Pleasant Valley Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest, Gila County, approximately 21 miles south of Young, Arizona.
We prepared an Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EE/CA) report to identify and evaluate several removal action (cleanup) alternatives to remove heavy metal contamination associated with past mining activities. The recommended cleanup alternative is (1) to remove contaminated soils from the day-use areas and place them in a consolidation cell, (2) re-route the All-Terrain Vehicle traffic, and (3) close the adits.
Public input and comments will be accepted until close of business on March 1, 2009.
> View Forest Service announcement, Jan. 21, 2009
> Download draft Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis , Jan. 22, 2009

Pigeon Mine

Uranium in spring water north of Grand Canyon likely not related to nearby former Pigeon uranium mine, USGS study

Uranium levels in Pigeon Spring, just north of the Grand Canyon, are likely due to a natural source of uranium and not related to the nearby former Pigeon Mine, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Pigeon Spring had elevated uranium levels in recent samples from 2012-2014 (73-92 micrograms per liter), compared to other perched springs in the same drainage area (2.7-18 micrograms per liter), and was proportionally elevated in samples collected prior to mining operations at the nearby Pigeon Mine.
> View USGS release Jan. 24, 2017
> Download: Geochemistry and hydrology of perched groundwater springs: assessing elevated uranium concentrations at Pigeon Spring relative to nearby Pigeon Mine, Arizona (USA) , by K. R. Beisner, N. V. Paretti, F. D. Tillman, et al., in: Hydrogeology Journal, aheadofprint, Nov. 23, 2016 (3.1MB PDF)

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

> View here

Orphan Mine Site

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

USGS study finds highest uranium concentrations in groundwater of the Grand Canyon region at abandoned Orphan mine site

> View here

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

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

4 National Parks

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

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

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

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


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

Juniper uranium mine site

Former Juniper uranium mine site requires repair works already four years after reclamation completed

A Cold War-era uranium mine in the Stanislaus National Forest that provided ore for nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s is now described by its federal custodians as a uranium mine waste landfill, and it needs maintenance and repairs.
Work at the Juniper Uranium Mine site east of Eagle Meadow is scheduled for Monday (Sep. 18) through Oct. 30, according to Stanislaus National Forest staff. Contractor HelioTech is expected to work on a storm water management system and import riprap rock materials and construction equipment to the site, which is several miles out Eagle Meadow Road, also known as Forest Road 5N01 at the 5N33 spur.
The site is at 8,500 feet in elevation in Tuolumne County and drains into Red Rock Creek, which flows to the Middle Fork Stanislaus River near Kennedy Meadows Resort, Dennis Geiser, a regional environmental engineer with the Forest Service in Vallejo, said Wednesday (Sep. 13). [...]
Construction activities began in 2011 with the installation of a toe berm and underdrain. In September 2012, the cleanup was delayed by torrential late-summer rains near the crest of the Sierra Nevada. Construction of a geosynthetic cover, soil cover and drainage and erosion controls were completed in 2013. The $1.5 million project was authorized under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund. "When we closed the site and followed EPA prescrip, we took all waste rock and put it back in the pit, we built an underdrain to catch any water that was seeping out of the sidewall of the pit," Geiser said Wednesday (Sep. 13). [...]
Work scheduled at Juniper Uranium Mine later this month and next month is to repair perimeter storm water channels that have clogged with sediment washing down from site, to restore drainage flow in the top deck perimeter channel and eliminate ponding observed earlier this year, to remove decomposing channel riprap and replace with rock, and widen riprap placement in one perimeter channel to ensure offsite surface water and snowmelt stay off the cap and cover system, Geiser said. [...] (The Union Democrat Sep. 13, 2017)

Completion of reclamation of abandoned Juniper uranium mine deferred until 2013

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

Restoration of abandoned Juniper uranium mine begins

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

Contract awarded for remediation of abandoned Juniper uranium mine

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

Forest Service releases cleanup plan for abandoned Juniper uranium mine

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

Forest Service closes access to abandoned Juniper uranium mine site

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

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

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


> See extra page


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> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Salmon River Uranium Development Site, Lemhi County

NRC Docket No.

Wildfire burns through former uranium mining site in Idaho

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

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

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


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

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


Abandoned mines in Pryor Mountains

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

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


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


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

Apex mine, Lander County

Final securing of largest former uranium mine in Nevada completed

The [Nevada Division of Minerals ] reported that the final securing of the Apex Mine in Lander County was finished in 2016, when the last access to underground workings was secured with bat-compatible steel gates, grates and natural caving processes. The Forest Service handled the work at Apex.
The mine was the largest uranium mine in Nevada, mined between 1954 and 1966 from a small open pit and from underground, with all the ore shipped to Utah for processing. (Elko Daily Free Press Sep. 7, 2017)


> See extra page


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> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

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

> View: Niagara Falls Storage Site (NFSS) (US Army Corps of Engineers - Buffalo District)


Presence of radioactive contaminants confirmed in soil on vicinity property of Niagara Falls Storage Site

The Army Corps of Engineers has disclosed the discovery of plutonium and other radioactive materials in samples of soil and groundwater north of the burial site for nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project, which created the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II.
The Niagara County field where the samples were taken is believed to have been the site of open-air burning of radioactive material in the 1950s, according to a 2016 Corps report. A concrete pad, where the open-air fireplace was positioned, still exists, the report said.
Jeffrey M. Rowley, the Corps' project manager for the site, said in an interview that although the latest samples were taken in late 2018, the agency is still working on a report about how serious the finds are and what to do about them.
He said the Corps eventually will issue a final decision on remediation in the 4-acre field, north of the main nuclear waste site. The Corps calls the field "Vicinity Property H Prime." However, that remediation decision may not come until around 2026, Rowley said. [...]
Contracts will apply to the of 278,000 cubic yards of nuclear waste from the 10-acre storage site and the planned cleanup of the surrounding land and groundwater.
The data was posted on the Corps' Niagara Falls Storage Site website shortly before Christmas. It showed uranium, radium and thorium in almost every soil sample within 30 inches of the surface of the Town of Porter field.
Plutonium, cesium and strontium were less common in the soil samples. The groundwater samples, which also showed radium and uranium, were taken from CWM Chemical Services monitoring wells, Rowley said. A small amount of plutonium was found in one groundwater sample. [...] (The Buffalo News Jan. 22, 2021)

Funding sought to speed up cleanup of Niagara Falls Storage Site

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer wants the removal of thousands of gallons of nuclear waste buried in Niagara County to be expedited by the federal government. Schumer, D-NY, appeared Monday (Apr. 15) in the Town of Lewiston to say he has requested Congressional lawmakers to approve a $250 million budget increase for the cleanup program associated with removing the radioactive material that sits close to a residential population and a school.
The Niagara Falls Storage site, where the material is held, is an underground 10-acre "containment cell" that holds a variety of hot substances, including plutonium, uranium and "the largest concentration of radium-226 on the planet," according to Schumer. The radioactive tomb lays beneath 10-feet of soil in a unit that members of a local environmental watchdog group, Residents for Responsible Government , say is nearing the end of its useful lifespan. Though Schumer and other federal officials contend the cell is secure, the minority leader said the circumstances beg urgency.
"While the Army Corps did commit to remediating the Niagara Falls Storage Site all the way back in 2015, the project has been stunted by bureaucratic red tape and a lack of funding, pushing its potential start date back by as many as ten years," Schumer said. "It doesn't take a nuclear physicist to know that allowing nuclear materials from World War II to sit merely ten feet below the surface for 30 years is a terrible idea."
Schumer's calls follow local demands that a cleanup authorization for the site be made official by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In March, shortly after the Niagara County Legislature formally called for a sign-off on the removal plan, the Army Corps announced it had given its OK to move forward under its Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP). The "record of decision," as the Army Corps terms it, was signed March 26 after an 18-month delay and amid concern the program would be transferred to another agency during federal budge negotiations, a change that could have jeopardized the fate of the removal project. The record of decision made the removal a mandated action in the eyes of the federal government, a significant step that places the project in a pool of initiatives that are eligible to receive Congressional funding, but one that does not trigger any immediate budget allocations. [...]
Bill Kowalewski, the Army Corps' special projects branch chief in its City of Buffalo office, said last month that initial funding for what officials expect to be a nearly $500 million project could come in 2024, at the earliest. Once it has begun, the removal would likely take five to 10 years to complete, according to Kowalewski. (Niagara Gazette Apr. 16, 2019)


> View book: Safety of the High-Level Uranium Ore Residues at the Niagara Falls Storage Site, Lewiston, New York (1995), Commission on Geosciences, Environment and Resources (CGER)

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


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

Belfield mine, Billings County, North Dakota

State to reclaim abandoned Belfield uranium mine

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


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

Former Feed Materials Production Center, Fernald, Ohio

Fernald Closure Project homepage

Tree bark documents atmospheric contamination stemming from former Fernald uranium processing plant (Ohio)

"[...] Our results demonstrate the presence of anthropogenic U contamination in tree bark from the entire study area in both transects, with U concentrations within 1 km of the FFMPC [Fernald Feed Materials Production Center] up to approximately 400 times local background levels of 0.066 ppm. Tree bark samples from the Alba Craft and HHM transects exhibit increasing U concentrations within approximately 5 and approximately 10 km, respectively of the FFMPC. [...]"
Uranium isotopes in tree bark as a spatial tracer of environmental contamination near former uranium processing facilities in southwest Ohio, by Conte E, Widom E, Kuentz D, in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Vol. 178–179 (November 2017) p. 265-278

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IEER issues critical assessment of management of Fernald Silo wastes

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

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

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

Cleanup of Silos 1 and 2 begins

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

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

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

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

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

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


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> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

White King and Lucky Lass mines, Oregon

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

Wildfire burns over former White King and Lucky Lass uranium mines

Firefighters continue to work to contain the Cougar Peak Fire in Lakeview. It's grown to over 86,000 acres. Fire officials say within 24 hours of its start, it burned over two mines located within one mile of each other.
The Environmental Protection Agency, says the site encompasses 140 acres affected by uranium mining, which happened in the 1950s and '60s. The former mine site is currently operated and maintained, with the US Forest Service, through an inter-agency agreement with the EPA.
Previous mining operations at the site left behind contaminated soil, surface water, and groundwater with heavy metals and radioactive elements. The EPA and fire officials say, there is no exposed radioactive material in the air, because of past site clean-ups.
"It's been remediated and cleaned up and there’s no exposed radioactive material there, but we are aware of it," said Tamara Schmidt, a spokesperson with the Fremont Winema National Forest. (KOBI5.com Sep. 15, 2021)

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

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


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


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

Darrow, Freezeout and Triangle abandoned uranium mines, Black Hills area, South Dakota

Cleanup not necessary at abandoned uranium mines in the project area of the proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium mine, EPA finds

No cleanup will be required at three abandoned uranium mines near Edgemont after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was unable to document a release of hazardous substances. The EPA announced its decision Monday (April 25). It is based on water and sediment sampling conducted in September 2015 by contractor Weston Solutions Inc. The EPA deemed the sampling necessary after a 2014 preliminary assessment. The assessment was requested by the nonprofit Institute of Range and the American Mustang , owner of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
But the EPA contractor's September 2015 sampling of sediment and water downstream from the mines did not detect concentrations of hazardous substances in excess of three times the natural or 'background' levels. Therefore, the EPA could not document any occurrence of a 'release' such as runoff from the mine pits. In other words, the mine sites may contain hazardous substances, but those substances do not appear to be escaping in amounts that would cause serious human health or ecological effects. (Rapid City Journal Apr. 27, 2016)

EPA assessment finds radioactive contamination at abandoned uranium mines in the project area of the proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium mine

The EPA has issued a Preliminary Assessment on the clean-up of old uranium mines that are in the project area of the proposed Dewey-Burdock uranium mine. These three old uranium mines date from the early days of uranium mining in the Black Hills. Research has indicated contamination at the Darrow Pit mine for some years. The Preliminary Assessment indicated that surface soils, air samples, domestic wells, and surface water in the area contain radioactive materials. The domestic wells are near the site and "contain levels of Radium-226 that exceed the drinking water standard."
The Clean Water Alliance and Defenders of the Black Hills have been pushing for cleanup of 169 old uranium sites and prospects in the Cheyenne River watershed before new uranium mining is allowed. (KOTA Oct. 9, 2014)

The Preliminary Assessment recommends that a Site Investigation be conducted to determine if hazardous substance releases from the abandoned mines are impacting sensitive environments. The EPA is planning to conduct this Site Investigation in 2015.
> Download: Darrow / Freezeout / Triangle Uranium Mine , EPA Region 8 Fact Sheet, Sep. 2014 (2.5MB PDF - powertechexposed.com)
> Download: Preliminary Assessment Report regarding the Darrow/Freezeout/Triangle Uranium Mine Site near Edgemont, South Dakota , Seagull Environmental Technologies, Inc., Sep. 24, 2014 (10.2MB PDF - powertechexposed.com)

Cave Hills, Harding County, South Dakota

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

After 51 years, cleanup of abandoned Riley Pass uranium mine finally begins

Up on the scenic tablelands of the North Cave Hills in northwestern South Dakota, the 16 people doing the digging, hauling and grading on a major land clean-up project this summer form a veritable cavalry that has arrived mounted on trucks, excavators and bulldozers. They're reclaiming the land, 51 years after a uranium mining company used it, abandoned it, and then left contaminants to blow in the wind and wash into streams.
That work began June 6 and is scheduled to finish Sept. 30, but it's only a fraction of the overall job that needs to be done. In the coming years, more multimillion-dollar contracts will be awarded to reclaim six more buttes, all to undo the damage done five decades ago by uranium mining. Right now, there is no firm total cost for the cleanup, which will be done in stages and be paid for from a larger $194 million settlement received by the federal government. (Rapid City Journal Aug. 5, 2016)

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

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

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

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

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

Tronox bankruptcy raises questions about uranium cleanup in Cave Hills area

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Group calls for action on abandoned uranium mines

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

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

Tennesee Valley Authority Edgemont site, South Dakota

NRC Material License No. SUA-816

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

Wildfires burn across Edgemont uranium mill tailings site

The U.S. Department of Energy is monitoring a contaminated waste burial site that contains 4 million tons of radioactive material after wildfires burned across it earlier this month near Edgemont.
William Dam, of the federal department's Office of Legacy Management in Grand Junction, Colo., said no radioactive material was released and there is no apparent cause for concern about public health or the environment. But he said the office sent personnel for an initial site visit this month and will conduct a follow-up visit in September. "We don't see any reason why the fire would affect the site itself, other than just burning down the grass," Dam said
Lightning was the suspected cause of wildfires that began July 16 and burned for several days, eventually covering about 22 square miles of grassland and burning to within a mile of the city of Edgemont. About three miles southeast of Edgemont, the fires burned over the top of the Edgemont Uranium Mill Tailings Repository. Four million tons of tailings, contaminated soil, building equipment and debris are buried there under 9 feet of layered earth and a covering of grass. (Rapid City Journal July 31, 2016)

License Termination

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


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

Panna Maria

Proposed exploitation of oil and gas deposits below Texas uranium mill tailings sites:
> View here


Proposed exploitation of oil and gas deposits below Texas uranium mill tailings sites:
> View here

Ray Point

Proposed exploitation of oil and gas deposits below Texas uranium mill tailings sites:
> View here

Hackney abandoned uranium mine, Karnes County

Reclamation of Hackney abandoned uranium mine completed: On July 17, 2018, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) announced that its Abandoned Mine Land program has completed restoration of an eight-acre abandoned uranium mine in Karnes County. Known as the Hackney Site, it was last mined in 1963 and sat abandoned for 54 years. It was selected for remediation because of the safety hazard abandoned pits pose to the public, as well as elevated naturally-occurring radiation levels. The four-month long project reduced radiation to safe levels and restored the area to its natural state.
During the Hackney Site project, which was managed by the RRC, 60,000 cubic yards of naturally occurring radioactive soil was properly disposed of through on-site burial in the abandoned pit. Once filled, the material was capped with topsoil and storm water control features were installed. New, native vegetation was also planted on the site to restore it to its natural state.
The project was funded by a $664,349 federal grant from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. AML staff will monitor the site to ensure healthy growth of vegetation and to maintain erosion control.

Brown abandoned uranium mine, Karnes County

Reclamation of Brown abandoned uranium mine completed: The Railroad Commission of Texas announced today (March 3) the completion of the Brown Abandoned Uranium Mine Reclamation Project in Karnes County. The Brown abandoned mine is one of 32 mine sites in Karnes, Atascosa and Live Oak counties. Uranium was extracted from these surface mines from 1963 until 1975. The Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Program allows the Commission to reclaim and restore land and water resources and to protect the public from potential adverse effects of pre-law mining practices.
Reclamation of abandoned surface mines usually consists of earthwork (highwall reduction and spoil re-contouring); burial or treatment of unsuitable spoil (usually naturally occurring acidic or radioactive spoil); installation of erosion and water control structures; and re-vegetation.
In the case of the Brown abandoned uranium mine, the Commission's AML Program staff mapped and conducted environmental surveys of the abandoned site prior to preparing environmental assessments, reclamation plans, construction bid documents and water discharge permit applications.
Contractors began clearing the mesquite brush present on the Brown site in 2012. Sediment control was installed and water was pumped out of an abandoned pit. Topsoil was salvaged from areas that would be disturbed.
A spoil pile was excavated and used to partially fill and reclaim the abandoned pit. Naturally occurring unsuitable acidic and radioactive spoil material was placed in the pit bottom as compacted fill and capped with almost 1.3 million cubic yards [0.994 million m3] of clean, non-acidic, non-radioactive spoil that was compacted to achieve the final design contours. Burial and capping radioactive spoil materials with clean material in the abandoned pit bottom keeps radiation levels on the reclaimed surface within the limits for continuous occupation.
The stockpiled topsoil was spread over the reclaimed pit and water control channels were constructed. The completed spoil and pit was then covered with topsoil. Following the completion of major earthwork reclamation, the final step in the process was re-vegetation of the graded and topsoiled areas.
Total completed cost for reclamation of the Brown abandoned mine was $4,166,535 and was funded by the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) through a production fee levied on active coal mining operations in the United States. (Texas Railroad Commission March 3, 2015)
> See also: Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Projects Gallery webpage (Texas RRC)


> View extra page


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

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

> See: extra page

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

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

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

Erosion observed at Sherwood uranium mill tailings site poses no threat to embankment stability, DOE concludes

In 2015, inspectors noted a small area where sand was accumulating at the toe of the tailings containment dam. During the 2016 annual inspection in May, additional accumulated sand was observed at this location.
A follow-up inspection was conducted in October 2016 after a large forest fire in the region. During this visit the sand deposit and containment dam were examined. The sand appeared to have been transported downslope beneath the protective rock cover based on a shallow gully extending upslope from the accumulation area. Further evaluation and investigation following the 2017 annual inspection found the area eroding is downslope of the actual tailings containment dam and does not threaten the disposal cell.
> Download: Follow-Up Inspection and Evaluation, Sherwood, Washington, Disposal Site (S15417) , DOE report with cover letter to NRC, Mar. 12, 2018 (8.4MB PDF)
> Download: Sand Erosion from Base of Sherwood, Washington Disposal Cell Embankment , DOE letter to NRC, Sep. 8, 2016 (3.2MB PDF)

WA Dept. of Health and NRC terminate Sherwood license

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

Open questions related to proposed License Termination

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

Background documents are available through ADAMS .


> see extra page

> View background information on Uranium Mill Tailings Management - USA

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