(Moab, Utah) ― The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management’s (EM) Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project has achieved another cleanup milestone by safely shipping millions of tons of uranium mill tailings from the Moab, Utah, site. To date, over 12 million tons of mill tailings have been shipped by rail and placed in an engineered disposal facility near Crescent Junction, Utah.
On average, an automobile weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. Achieving this milestone at Moab is equivalent to safely shipping about 6 million automobiles from Moab to Crescent Junction. Removing and shipping the mill tailings from Moab is a key component in EM’s calendar year 2021 cleanup priorities and Strategic Vision.
In response to this significant achievement, Federal Cleanup Director Russell McCallister said:
“We’re excited to celebrate another milestone for the Moab UMTRA Project. The cleanup continues to move at an accelerated rate and we’re getting closer to completion every day, thanks to the dedication of our Project team, agency partners, and community members. As we near the final stages of the cleanup, we’re starting to envision how the site will be finally configured, and to that end, the Project is collaborating with federal, local and state stakeholders to plan for the site’s future after remediation is complete.”
In addition to reaching the 12 million tons milestone, the Project shipped more than one million tons in fiscal year 2021 alone, which is the largest amount in the previous nine years.
“One million tons in a year is a major accomplishment for the Project,” McCallister said. “Even more, we accomplished this goal despite the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
McCallister added that the Project’s top priority is safety. The Project has exceeded 1,800 workdays without a lost-time injury or illness.
“I’m proud that we’ve not only reached the 12 million tons milestone but that we’ve done it while adhering to the highest standards of safety for our workers and the community,” he said.
Mill tailings are a sand-like waste material that remains from conventional processing of uranium ore. The Moab tailings are transported by locked, steel railcar containers to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved disposal facility near Crescent Junction which is located 30 miles north of the Moab site.
After tailings are placed in the disposal cell, it is capped with multi-layers of locally sourced soils and rock. In addition to relocating the tailings, active remediation of the site’s groundwater is taking place using extraction and injection wells to protect the Colorado River.
Contact: Nicole Gordon, Moab UMTRA Project Public Affairs Manager, (970) 257-2145