The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Defense-Related Uranium Mines (DRUM) program is a partnership between DOE, federal land management agencies, state abandoned mine lands (AML) programs, and tribal governments to verify and validate the condition of a unique set of abandoned uranium mines. These mines provided uranium ore to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) for defense-related activities.
Most mines are located on public land and are abandoned. The program is divided into three campaigns based on land management status and ownership. Initiated in 2017, DRUM Campaign 1 focuses on approximately 2,500 legacy mines located on public land administered by federal and state agencies. Fieldwork for Campaign 2 began in October 2022 and involves assessing DRUM sites on tribal lands. Campaign 3 is aimed toward assessing DRUM sites on private property and fieldwork is scheduled to begin in 2024. The DOE Office of Legacy Management implements the program by conducting verification and validation activities, including:
- Exchanging information with other federal agencies and state governments to improve the quality of mine-specific data.
- Performing field inventories to document the condition of the mines.
- Conducting gamma radiation surveys, soil sampling, and water sampling (as applicable), as well as collecting multiple lines of evidence to evaluate hazards posed by each mine.
- Producing mine-specific reports that document inventory results, as well as evaluations of physical hazards and potential chemical and radiological risks.
Ultimately, these V&V activities will result in preliminary risk screening to assess whether each mine poses potential risks to human health and the environment. This information will be shared with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and state and tribal governments to help them make decisions about how to address mines that pose the greatest risks.
Program Development And Progress
Acting upon the findings of the 2014 Report to Congress, DOE initiated the DRUM program in 2017 and by July 2017, DOE had developed numerous program documents and initiated field V&V efforts. The various documents provide the structure and basis for DOE to manage the V&V process for approximately 4,225 mines across 19 states. DOE obtained its authority for the program under Section 3151 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013. The act mandated that DOE conduct a review of the location, status, and risks posed by abandoned uranium mines and consult with other federal agencies during the process. The following shows the location of DRUM sites and our progress to date.
CAMPAIGN 1: DRUM ON PUBLIC LAND ADMINISTERED BY FEDERAL AND STATE AGENCIES
CAMPAIGN 2: DRUM SITES ON TRIBAL LAND
CAMPAIGN 3: DRUM SITES ON PRIVATE PROPERTY
- DRUM is scheduled to commence fieldwork in fiscal year 2024.
The DRUM program developed and now maintains numerous documents from which it identifies objectives, strategies and the methods used to achieve these objectives. This approach instills consistency in data quality and confidence in the information from which management decisions can be made. The following program documents are utilized and updated annually.
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program Fact Sheet (July 2023)
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Mine Safeguarding Program Management Plan (June 2023)
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program Verification and Validation Work Plan (July 2023)
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Risk Screening Process (June 2020)
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program Annual Progress Report (January 1 - December 31, 2022)
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program Midyear Progress Report (January 1 - June 30, 2022)
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program Management Plan (2020 - 2030)
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program Strategic Plan (2020 – 2030)
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Report to Congress (August 2014)
Safeguarding Physical Hazards
As of December 31, 2022, in collaboration with partner agencies, the DRUM program has facilitated safeguarding 488 hazardous features since starting safeguarding work in 2020.
DRUM verification and validation evaluations identify the presence of physical hazards. Physical hazards are primarily attributed to unprotected open mine entries, subsidence features, or dangerous highwalls.
To protect the health and safety of members of the public who may encounter hazardous mine features, the DRUM Program expanded its capacity to assist federal land managers with safeguarding efforts. This included: 1) adding safeguarding activities to existing state agreements, 2) completing a cooperative agreement with a private organization that does mine closures, and 3) developing an administrative categorical exclusion to comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) responsibilities. To aid in the efficient closure of hazardous features, specific closure methods are recommended using state-approved engineer drawings to safeguard construction bids. Ultimately, the DRUM Program is working with its partner agencies as one government to achieve this mission of safeguarding for public and environmental protection.
During the 2023 field season, DRUM field teams are poised to complete V&V activities on approximately 225 mines. The 2023 field season will see travel distances for the field teams increase as they move on from high mine-density locations, like southwest Colorado and Utah, to more remote, lower density, locations and to mines sites that are more challenging to access. V&V activities conducted by the field teams include improving the quality of information about mine locations, identifying associated mine features and surrounding characteristics and conditions, collecting additional data to enable environmental sampling, and assessing physical safety hazards.
During the field season, the public may see our four-person teams either hiking or using Off-Highway Vehicles and Utility Terrain Vehicles on designated roads. The teams minimize their impact to natural resources and avoid disturbing any potential cultural resources and sensitive wildlife and plants.
The teams are scheduled to conduct V&V activities at DRUM sites in the following locations:
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
- Cochetopa Mining District
- Cortez Mining District
- Marshall Pass Mining District
- Maybell Mining District
- San Juan Mining District
- Tallahassee Creek Mining District
- Wet Mountain Mining Districts
- Cuchara Mining District
- Grand Mesa Mining District
- North Sangre de Cristo
- Placerville Mining District
- Uravan Mining District
- Gypsum Valley Mining District
- Slick Rock Mining District
- Butte Mining District
- Dakota Plains Mining District
- Black Hills Mining District
- Williston Basin Mining District
- Canyonlands National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
- Green River Mining District
- Henry Mountains Mining District
- Moab Mining District
- Monticello Mining District
- Powder River Basin Mining District
- Wind River Basin Mining District
Abandoned Uranium Mines Working Group
As part of our commitment to work with other federal agencies, LM participates in the Abandoned Uranium Mines Working Group (AUMWG). AUMWG is a consortium of federal agencies working together to address the human health, safety, and environmental challenges posed by the nation's abandoned uranium mines. By marshaling and leveraging the resources of multiple federal agencies, the group works with states and tribes to identify and address high-priority mines in an effective and coordinated manner.
To submit information, questions, and comments:
Legacy Management Support Public Affairs
U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management
11035 Dover Street, Suite 600
Westminster, CO 80021