Defense-related uranium mines provided uranium ore to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) for the nation’s nuclear program between 1947 and 1970. Many of these mines are abandoned. The DRUM Program is conducting verification and validation activities that will result in preliminary risk screenings to assess whether the mines pose potential risks to human health and the environment.
The Uranium Leasing Program (ULP) originated in the late 1940s, to provide the government a dedicated source of uranium and vanadium for the nation’s defense program. The Atomic Energy Act and other legislative actions authorized the AEC to withdraw lands from the public domain and then lease them to private industry for mineral exploration and for development and mining of the strategic resources. Lands in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah were included in the original ULP. In the early 1970s, the emphasis for the ULP switched from national defense to support of commercial nuclear power. Approximately 25,000 acres of land in southwestern Colorado remain withdrawn from the public domain and constitute what is managed as the ULP today.