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. Initiated in 2017, DRUM Campaign 1 focuses on approximately 2,500 legacy mines located on public land administered by federal and state agencies. Campaign 2 is scheduled to commence fieldwork in fiscal year 2023 and will assess DRUM sites on tribal land. Campaign 3 will address DRUM sites on private property and is scheduled to begin fieldwork in 2024. The DOE Office of Legacy Management implements the program by conducting verification and validation (V&V) 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 surveys, soil sampling, and water sampling (as applicable), as well as collecting multiple lines of evidence to help evaluate hazards posed by the mines.
- Producing mine-specific reports that offer 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 the mines pose potential risks to human health and the environment. This information will be shared with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service, and state and tribal governments to help them make decisions about how to address mines that pose the greatest risks.
The DRUM program provides the structure and basis for DOE to manage the V&V of 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:
The DRUM program is a partnership between DOE, federal land management agencies, AML programs, tribal governments, and private owners to verify and validate the condition of approximately 4,225 defense-related uranium mine sites across the nation. These mines provided uranium ore to private uranium mills that processed the ore for sale to AEC for defense-related activities that occurred between 1947 and 1970.
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Program 2020 Fact Sheet
- Defense-Related Uranium Mines Annual Report (January 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019)
- 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)
The DRUM program has completed a substantial number of V&V evaluations at mines located on public land in the western United States. Analysis of the information gleaned from these on-site evaluations indicates that approximately 40% of the mines contained physical hazards categorized as medium or high. These physical hazards are primarily attributed to unprotected open mine entries, subsidence features, or dangerous highwalls. In order to protect the health and safety of the public who may encounter these features, DOE will work with its partner agencies to safeguard these hazardous mine features.
In fall 2019, BLM executed 60 closures on DRUM sites in Red/Fry Canyon, Utah. As seen below, before and after pictures illustrate the safeguarding of an adit at the Markey Mine. In 2020, more closures are anticipated at White Canyon, Utah, in the spring and at Deer Flat District, Utah, in the fall. This will provide lessons learned (operational experiences) that will be used to refine the program moving forward.
Field teams are conducting site V&V activities at identified mines. 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.
The Abandoned Uranium Mines Working Group (AUMWG) is a consortium of federal agencies working together to address the human health, safety, and environmental challenges posed by the nation's approximate 4,225 abandoned mines resulting from legacy defense-related uranium mining. 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