One quarter of the uranium mill tailings pile located in Moab, Utah, has been relocated to the Crescent Junction, Utah, site for permanent disposal.
Four million tons of the 16 million tons total has been relocated under the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project managed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
A little over 2 years ago, Remedial Action Contractor EnergySolutions began shipping the tailings by rail away from their current location next to the Colorado River, to Crescent Junction 30 miles north. The project received a boost in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that increased the weekly train shipments from four to 10. Later this summer, once ARRA money runs out, the shipping schedule will go back to four trains a week.
At Crescent Junction, the tailings are placed in a DOE-constructed disposal cell feet below grade. The tailings material in the cell is a total of 50 feet thick, reaching 25 feet above ground. The tailings are then capped with a 10-foot-thick, multi-layered cover composed of native soils and rock.
Last summer, the project began placing final cover material on the portion of the compacted tailings that had met the final grade.
Work on this project is designed to protect the Colorado River by minimizing the release of ammonia and uranium. These ground water contaminants, which resulted from the processing of uranium ore, can be harmful to fish that use the backwater channels as habitat during late summer.