The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) and Consolidated Business Center recently signed an agreement to expand collaboration on the Office of Environmental Management (EM) Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project. The collaboration, which will leverage LM’s knowledge of disposal cell cover design, has the potential to improve construction of a waste disposal cell in Utah and save taxpayer dollars.
The Moab UMTRA Project ships mill tailings from its site in Moab, Utah, to its permanent disposal cell in Crescent Junction, Utah. Currently, the Moab Project is constructing a rock cover for the cell. Although most of the cover materials are obtained on-site, a substantial quantity of rock is shipped in by truck from about 90 miles away.
Moab UMTRA Project leaders are re-evaluating the cell cover’s design to increase its long-term performance and reduce the cost of transporting the rock to the Crescent Junction site.
LM monitors 44 permanent disposal cells, landfills, and other impoundments across the U.S. and has expertise on various types of cell covers. The Moab UMTRA Project will draw from LM’s knowledge while investigating other cell cover designs, including an evapotranspiration cover. Evapotranspiration covers are composed of rock and soil, and topped with vegetation. They soak up precipitation, until it evaporates naturally or transpires through plants.
Under the agreement, the Moab UMTRA Project will make the Moab and Crescent Junction sites available to LM to expand its research capabilities. LM will help EM conduct investigations on the effectiveness of evapotranspiration covers at the Crescent Junction site, provide recommendations and expertise on cover design, and assist with regulatory approvals.
LM is slated to take over long-term surveillance of the Moab site and disposal cell once tailings relocation is complete and the cover has been constructed. The transition is currently anticipated for the 2030s.