MOAB, Utah – EM’s Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project achieved an EM 2020 priority on Oct. 19 after relocating another million tons of contaminated soil and debris away from the Moab Site and the Colorado River, bringing the project’s cumulative total of mill tailings disposed to 11 million tons.
The achievement puts the site two-thirds of the way toward safely completing the removal of 16 million tons of material away from the river and to an engineered disposal site.
Moab UMTRA Project Federal Cleanup Director Russell McCallister said reaching the milestone is an outstanding accomplishment for the project's small team.
“Challenging times demand a clearly defined purpose," McCallister said. "I’m proud of our workforce and their contribution to the Department’s vision to safely remove a million tons of residual radioactive material this year while keeping our commitment to work without injury.”
Project Manager Greg Church said the latest achievement illustrates the commitment of the Moab UMTRA Project team.
“The ability to adapt to this year’s changing conditions and continue safe operations through these uncertain times is to be commended,” Church said. “Everyone who has contributed to this milestone, and the continued success of this project, can be proud of what they have accomplished.”
Site employees also recently surpassed a safety milestone, exceeding 1,500 work days without a lost-time injury or illness.
McCallister was joining the Grand County Commission today to recognize the project's latest achievements. McCallister and Mary McGann, the commission’s chair, were to present plaques representing the cleanup progress.
North Wind Portage, the Moab Project's remedial action contractor, planned boxed lunches for employees at both the Moab and Crescent Junction site locations this week to celebrate the milestone.
When EM began its cleanup at the Moab Site, there was an estimated 16 million tons of soil, or mill tailings, left from a former mill that processed uranium ore. About 32 percent of that tailings pile currently remains to be shipped from the Moab Site to the Crescent Junction disposal cell.
The project had reached 10 million tons removed in September 2019.
To prepare tailings for removal, workers excavate and condition them in drying beds to reach the optimal moisture content for disposal and to reduce shipping excess water. Excavators load tailings in steel containers with locking lids for transport.
When tailings arrive at the Crescent Junction Site, they are end-dumped from the containers, loaded into dump trucks, and driven to the disposal area where a dozer spreads them for compaction. They are compacted in place in layers. After placement has reached the design thickness, they are capped with a multi-layered cover composed of native soils and rock.