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(last updated 9 May 2019)


Map of the United States linking to State information. Source: USGS no selection

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

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

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


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


DOE Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program

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.
> View Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program , DOE Office of Legacy Management

> 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

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

> View here

Navajo Indian Reservation

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


Navajo sign national research agreement for study on effects of environmental exposure to uranium on babies

The Navajo Nation has signed the first tribal data-sharing agreement for nationwide research. The agreement allows for Johns Hopkins University and other researchers to build a large-scale database. That research is part of a National Institutes of Health project studying the environmental influences on child health outcomes throughout the country. Led by the University of New Mexico, the Navajo Birth Cohort Study is investigating the effects of the environmental exposure to uranium on babies currently being born. While the tribe is not ready to share genetic data or biospecimens, the agreement allows researchers to continue to study the health impacts of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. (Fronteras May 8, 2019)
> View NIH release May 7, 2019

EPA funds study on impacts of abandoned uranium mines on air quality in Cove, Arizona

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency $89,260 to study whether abandoned uranium mines are affecting air quality in the Cove, Arizona, area.
Navajo community members have raised concerns about winds potentially transporting dust with radionuclides during the long-term cleanup efforts by EPA and Navajo Nation EPA. This study will sample airborne particulate matter, or dust, for a variety of elements including uranium, arsenic and lead. The study will also look for airborne radionuclides, including isotopes of thorium and radium. (EPA Region 9, Apr. 24, 2019)

EPA to award $220 million for uranium mine cleanup on Navajo Nation

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to award multiple contracts worth an estimated $220 million over a five-year period to address the legacy of uranium contamination from abandoned mines in the Navajo Nation area. The Navajo Area Abandoned Mines Response and Construction Services (AMRCS) contract, which is currently open for proposals exclusively from small businesses, will provide cleanup, response, and construction services to EPA at and near former uranium mine sites in the Navajo and Grants, New Mexico Mining District areas. (United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Apr. 17, 2019)

EPA releases Assessment Report on water contamination at abandoned uranium mine sites in Cove area, Arizona (Navajo Nation)

"[...] Present uranium and other COCs (constituents of concern) exceed human and ecological risk-based screening levels designed to identify chemical-specific concentrations that may warrant further investigation or cleanup on the basis of a probability of one in a million to one in ten thousand excess cancer or noncancerous incidence in a population. Human health exposure pathways considered include drinking water, consumption of livestock that utilize the water, use of water for agriculture and secondary human contact. [...]"
> Download: FINAL ASSESSMENT REPORT, Cove Wash Watershed Assessment Site, Navajo Nation, Cove Chapter, Arizona, April 2018 (22.7MB PDF)

Office of Inspector General urges EPA to continue evaluations and to develop prioritization strategy for cleanup of abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation

> Download Report: EPA Needs to Finish Prioritization and Resource Allocation Methodologies for Abandoned Uranium Mine Sites on or Near Navajo Lands , August 22, 2018

EPA settles with EnPro Holdings Inc. for assessment costs at eight abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation, near Cameron and Tuba City (Arizona)

Today (Jan. 8, 2018), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or the Superfund Law) worth $500,000 with EnPro Holdings, Inc. to assess eight abandoned uranium mines located on the Navajo Nation, near Cameron and Tuba City, Arizona.
The eight abandoned uranium mines were originally operated by the A&B Mining Corporation in the 1950s.  A+B Mining Corporation's operations contributed to the contamination at these eight sites and made them liable for the cleanup under CERCLA. Through a series of mergers between 1959 and 2016, EnPro Industries became the corporate successor to A&B Mining Corporation. (EPA Region 09, Jan. 8, 2018)

EPA's OIG to review agency's work on cleanup of abandoned uranium mine sites on Navajo Nation

A federal watchdog says it will review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to clean up abandoned uranium sites on the Navajo Nation. The EPA received funding in 2015 from a $1 billion settlement to address 50 sites in northeastern Arizona. The sites were run by Kerr McGee Corp., later acquired by Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
The EPA's Office of Inspector General says it wants to determine whether the EPA is prioritizing sites that present the greatest threats. Reviews generally take 18 months. (AP Nov. 24, 2017)
> View EPA OIG release Nov. 16, 2017 (Project Number OPE-FY17-0023)

EPA awards contract to assess contamination at 30 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation

A California company has been awarded an $85 million contract to assess uranium contamination on and near the Navajo Nation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the contract Wednesday (Oct. 11) to Tetra Tech Inc., headquartered in Pasadena. The EPA says the company will assess 30 abandoned mines on the vast reservation where uranium was extracted for wartime weapons.
Tetra Tech will work with Navajo Technical University to train Navajos on how to assess and clean up uranium waste. The company also will start an internship program to give students technical work experience. The contract is partially funded by a 2015 settlement for the cleanup of over 50 abandoned uranium mines. The settlement resolved a legal battle over a spinoff of Kerr-McGee Corp., which once operated mines on the Navajo Nation. (Fresno Bee Oct. 11, 2017)

EPA announces agreement on cleanup of abandoned Haystack uranium mines

On May 22, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement with BNSF Railway Company to begin cleanup at the Haystack Mines Site, a group of three abandoned uranium mines near Prewitt, New Mexico and the Baca/Prewitt chapter, on Navajo Nation.
The mines site operated from 1952 to 1981 and produced 400,000 tons of uranium ore. Today, the 174-acre area is being used for livestock grazing and includes one residence with some additional homes nearby. The work is expected to begin in July and last for four months. Under the agreement, BNSF Railway Company will conduct the following actions: (EPA Region 09, May 22, 2017)

EPA announces development of cleanup options for Mariano Lake and Ruby Mines on Navajo Nation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced separate agreements with Chevron U.S.A., Inc. and Western Nuclear, Inc. to develop cleanup options for uranium mine waste at the Mariano Lake and Ruby Mines on the Navajo Nation. The work is estimated to cost approximately $300,000 for each of the two mines.
Today's settlements continue the work needed to clean up radium-contaminated soil at the two mines located east of Gallup, N.M. Chevron completed an investigation of the hazardous waste at the Mariano Lake Mine Site under a 2011 agreement with EPA. Western Nuclear completed a similar investigation at the Ruby Mines Site under a 2013 agreement.
Having concluded investigations at their respective mine sites, both companies will now develop a list of possible cleanup options, analyzing their feasibility in an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis report. (EPA Region 09, Feb. 9, 2017)

Settlement announced for cleanup of another 94 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation

The United States and the Navajo Nation have entered into a settlement agreement with two affiliated subsidiaries of Freeport-McMoRan, Inc, for the cleanup of 94 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. Under the settlement, valued at over $600 million, Cyprus Amax Minerals Company and Western Nuclear, Inc., will perform the work and the United States will contribute approximately half of the costs. The settlement terms are outlined in a proposed consent decree filed today in federal court in Phoenix, Arizona. With this settlement, funds are now committed to begin the cleanup process at over 200 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.
The proposed consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona , is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
> Submit comments by February 23, 2017.
> Federal Register Volume 82, Number 14 (Tuesday, January 24, 2017) p. 8211 (download full text )
> View DOJ release Jan. 17, 2017
> Download related DOJ documents (Case Number: CV17-00140-PHX-MHB, Case Title: United States of America v. Cyprus Amax Minerals Company, et al.)

EPA announces contract opportunities worth $85 million in preparation for Navajo Nation uranium mine cleanup work

On Aug. 31, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a Request for Proposals for the Navajo Area Uranium Mines Response, Assessment, and Evaluation Services contract.  This RFP, with an estimated value of $85 million, is a solicitation for firms capable of performing the work to submit proposals. Specifically, EPA is seeking expertise in environmental assessment services related to uranium mines, as well as expertise in working with tribes and communities. EPA anticipates awarding this contract in spring 2017.
In addition, EPA is issuing a Request for Information/Sources Sought for the potential Navajo Area Abandoned Mines Response and Construction Services procurement.
> View EPA Region 9 release , Aug. 31, 2016

Navajos reach another settlement on uranium mine cleanup

The federal government has reached another settlement with the Navajo Nation that will clear the way for cleanup work to continue at abandoned uranium mines across the largest American Indian reservation in the U.S.
The target includes 46 sites that have been identified as priorities due to radiation levels, their proximity to people and the threat of contamination spreading. Cleanup is supposed to be done at 16 abandoned mines while evaluations are planned for another 30 sites and studies will be done at two more to see if water supplies have been compromised.
The agreement announced by the U.S. Justice Department settles the tribe's claims over the costs of engineering evaluations and cleanups at the mines. The federal government has already spent $100 million to address abandoned mines on Navajo lands and a separate settlement reached with DOJ last year was worth more than $13 million. However, estimates for the future costs for cleanup at priority sites stretch into the hundreds of millions of dollars. (Deseret News Aug. 23, 2016)

U.S. to pay cleanup of 16 abandoned uranium mines and cleanup evaluation of 30 more on Navajo land

"Today, in a settlement agreement with the Navajo Nation, the United States agreed to provide funding necessary to continue clean-up work at abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. Specifically, the United States will fund environmental response trusts to clean up 16 priority abandoned uranium mines located across the Navajo Nation. The agreement also provides for evaluations of 30 more abandoned uranium mines, and for studies of two abandoned uranium mines to determine if groundwater or surface waters have been affected by those mines. [...] The United States previously provided funding for evaluations at the 16 priority mines in a 'Phase 1' settlement executed in 2015."
> View DOJ release July 15, 2016

U.S. EPA settles with El Paso Natural Gas for some cleanup costs at abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation, near Cameron (Arizona)

On Nov. 23, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice announced a settlement worth more than $500,000 with El Paso Natural Gas Company LLC, (EPNG) to reimburse government costs related to 19 abandoned uranium mines located on the Navajo Nation, near Cameron, Arizona.
Under the settlement terms, EPNG will reimburse the U.S. EPA $502,500, based on its share of field investigations of historical uranium contamination. EPNG, owned by Kinder Morgan, Inc., is a corporate successor to two mining companies that operated in the area from 1952 to 1961.
Mine waste has been exposed for decades at the Cameron abandoned uranium mines, located close to the Little Colorado River. EPA's field surveys found the soil was contaminated by radioactive uranium and radium, two substances known to cause cancer. Land and water resources may be impaired by this waste material.
The settlement was lodged with the U.S. District Court in the District of Arizona and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
Submit comments by December 29, 2015.
> Federal Register Volume 80, Number 229 (Monday, November 30, 2015) p. 74811 (download full text )
> Download: proposed consent decree El Paso Natural Gas Co., L.L.C. v. U.S. (U.S. DOJ)
> See also: Addressing Uranium Contamination on the Navajo Nation (EPA Region 9)

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

Contaminants in abandoned uranium mine waste in the Blue Gap/Tachee Chapter of the Navajo Nation can be released rapidly, presenting a hazard to residents, study (Arizona)

Elevated Concentrations of U and Co-occurring Metals in Abandoned Mine Wastes in a Northeastern Arizona Native American Community , by J. M. Blake, S. Avasarala, K. Artyushkova, et al., in: Environmental Science & Technology, 2015, Vol. 49, No. 14, pp. 8506–8514 (open access)

U.S. to pay cleanup evaluation of 16 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land

The U.S. government will put $13.2 million into an environmental trust to pay for evaluations of 16 abandoned uranium mines on land belonging to the Navajo Nation in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, the Justice Department said on Friday (May 1). "The site evaluations focus on the mines that pose the most significant hazards and will form a foundation for their final cleanup," Assistant Attorney General John Cruden of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division said in the statement. (Reuters May 2, 2015)
> View DOJ release May 1, 2015

Federal Agencies release second Five-Year Plan to address uranium contamination in the Navajo Nation

In January 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Indian Health Service (IHS), and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), in consultation with the Navajo Nation, completed a Five-year effort to address uranium contamination in the Navajo Nation. The effort focused on the most imminent risks to people living on the Navajo Nation. While the last five years represent a significant start in addressing the legacy of uranium mining, much work remains and the same federal agencies have collaborated to issue a second Five-Year Plan.
> Download: Federal Actions to Address Impacts of Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation 2014 (1.3MB PDF - EPA)

Investigations demonstrate need for cleanup of abandoned uranium mines in the Tachee/Blue Gap and Black Mesa Chapters, Navajo Nation, Arizona

"Recent field investigations by the UNM METALS Research Center in Tachee/Blue Gap Chapter found that these abandoned uranium mines associated with the Claim 28 complex -- Mines #78 and #79 -- meet the Navajo Nation's criteria as priority sites. The closest points on the mines are 0.25 miles from the nearest occupied residences, and gamma radiation rates equal to or greater than 10 times local background rates are prevalent on these mine sites. Furthermore, XPS and XRF analyses at UNM show the presence of hazardous substances -- U, V and As -- in mine wastes in concentrations far exceeding both their respective crustal averages and local background in non-impacted soils. The mine wastes also appear to be enriched in Fe and Al compared with non-impacted soils. Preliminary SEM analyses indicate the wastes contain uranium-vanadium compounds on fine-grained particles that are vulnerable to re-suspension in windy conditions, posing a potential inhalation risk. A water sample from Waterfall Spring had a uranium concentration 2.3 times higher than the federal and tribal drinking water standard, confirming the result of a 1998 test by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."
> Download: Uranium in Soil, Mine Waste and Spring Water near Abandoned Uranium Mines, Tachee/Blue Gap and Black Mesa Chapters, Navajo Nation, Arizona , by Chris Shuey, Wm. Paul Robinson, et al., March 31, 2014 (495kB PDF - SRIC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anadarko Petroleum Corp's agreement to pay $5.15 billion to clean up nuclear fuel and other pollution received approval from a federal judge on Monday (Nov. 10), the final hurdle for the settlement touted by the U.S. Department of Justice as the largest-ever environmental cleanup recovery. (Reuters Nov. 10, 2014)

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

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

Court decision could help Navajo to get funding for uranium cleanup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cleanup at three abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land begins

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

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

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


CDC Prospective Birth Cohort Study in Navajo Nation

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

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


Cleanup of abandoned Skyline uranium mine (Utah)

> View here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaking Tuba City dump finally getting federal attention

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

EPA to rebuild uranium-contaminated Navajo homes

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

Navajo demand comprehensive assessment of abandoned uranium mines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aerial survey of abandoned uranium mines identifies excess radiation areas

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

Tribe urges cleanup for radioactive homes

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

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

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)

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. 04003400

Wildfire burns through former uranium mining site in Idaho

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

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

> View Site Status: Salmon River Uranium Development (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

Crow Butte

> View operational issues


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

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


> 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)


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)


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

White King and Lucky Lass mines, Oregon

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

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

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


> 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

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

> 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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