The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) Defense-Related Uranium Mines (DRUM) team was awarded the Secretary of Energy Achievement Award for its outstanding achievements in locating and assessing more than 1,500 mines and working with federal and state partners in safeguarding nearly 400 mines that pose a risk to human health and the environment.

DRUM Award

Members of LM’s DRUM team prepare for a site visit in summer 2022.

“This is amazing recognition for an awesome, and well deserving, team,” said Gordon Clark, the supervisor for LM’s Uranium Mine team, who oversees both the DRUM program and the Uranium Leasing Program (ULP). “DRUM is every bit a team effort, so for the team to earn this level of recognition speaks to their dedication and professionalism.”

The Secretary of Energy Achievement Award is awarded to individuals who make substantial achievements outside their normal duties. LM nominated 18 individuals, including LM staff and support contractors from the DRUM team, that have shown exceptional determination and commitment to upholding the DRUM program’s mission to protect communities across the United States.

The DRUM program is a combined partnership among DOE, federal land management agencies, state abandoned mine lands (AML) programs, and tribal governments to evaluate the condition of abandoned uranium mines that were previously used to provide uranium ore to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) for defense-related activities. Once these mines were no longer required, they were abandoned, some with structures intact and equipment left behind. Unfortunately, no complete inventory of these mines exists, including their physical features or location.

The DRUM program is tasked with addressing the challenges of these mines by conducting verification and validation (V&V) activities that assess whether these mines pose a potential risk. This information is then shared with state and tribal governments to discuss the issues and plan how to address them.

LM’s DRUM team has searched historic records, reviewed old manifests, and interviewed community and tribal leaders to find, document, and assess these mines.

The DRUM team has made steady progress assessing uranium mines on public lands, with only 264 mines left to complete out of 2,632. The team completed a major milestone earlier this year, which involved the V&V activities of more than 500 mines ahead of schedule.

“The DRUM team does incredible work every day, so you could be forgiven if you took that ‘DRUM Team Magic’ for granted,” Clark noted. “That’s why it’s good to take a moment and look back and to appreciate the team’s accomplishments.”

Looking ahead, the team is working hard to complete the remainder of the public mine assessments to meet the goal of the DRUM’s Campaign 1. DRUM Campaign 2 kicked off with work on the Pueblo of Laguna and the Navajo Nation. DRUM Campaign 3, which will assess DRUM sites on private property, will begin in late 2023.