Office of Environmental Management

Moab's Steady Progress Through a Decade of Cleanup

September 12, 2019

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MOAB, Utah – This year, EM’s Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project expects to reach a milestone of 10 million tons of residual radioactive material safely relocated.

Ten years ago, the Moab UMTRA Project began relocating mill tailings out of Moab, Utah, and away from the Colorado River, to the newly-created Crescent Junction, Utah disposal cell about 30 miles north. Once the milestone is reached, the Moab UMTRA Project estimates six million tons of tailings will remain.

In addition, EM is actively protecting the Moab Site’s neighboring Colorado River by extracting contaminants from groundwater underlying the site. In 2019, the Moab Site surpassed 925,000 pounds of ammonia and 5,000 pounds of uranium removed from the groundwater system since 2003.

EM is also tackling debris left over from the former uranium mill that once stood on the Moab Site. Debris requires special attention because of its large size, jagged shape, and degree of contamination. More than 30,000 tons have been safely excavated and shipped to the disposal cell this fiscal year.

The Moab, Utah site in 2001 when DOE assumed ownership of a former uranium mill site.
The Moab, Utah site in 2001 when DOE assumed ownership of a former uranium mill site.
The Moab, Utah site in 2018, showing a dramatic reduction in the tailings pile.
The Moab, Utah site in 2018, showing a dramatic reduction in the tailings pile.

EM is also focused on its Crescent Junction Site. Project leaders are reevaluating the disposal cell cover’s design to increase its long-term performance and reduce cost.

More than 65 years ago, famed prospector Charlie Steen discovered a major uranium ore body in the Colorado Plateau. His discovery created a desire for a processing mill in southeastern Utah near the source. It was built and began operating in 1956.

About 28 years later, the mill ceased operations. Crews demolished the processing buildings and buried them in the tailings pile. An interim cover was placed over the pile as part of decommissioning activities conducted between 1988 and 1996.

In 2001, DOE assumed ownership of the Moab Site and started on the road to cleanup.

Click here for more information on the Moab Project.

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