This week, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project will celebrate 10 years of uranium mill tailings shipments, said Moab UMTRA Public Affairs Manager Honora Thompson in a statement.
On April 20, 2009, the first trainload carrying mill tailings departed from the Moab site. Ten years later, more than 9.5 million tons of the estimated 16 million tons of tailings have been shipped to the project’s Crescent Junction disposal cell, said Thompson in her email.
Mill tailings are a sand-like material that remain from processing uranium ore. Although more than 90 percent of the uranium was extracted from the ore and sold during the former mill’s operations, radium and other decay products remained in the tailings.
Today, tailings are transported by rail in sealed metal containers, away from the Colorado River and the Moab site, to the Crescent Junction site, located about 30 miles north. The tailings are placed in a DOE constructed, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission-approved disposal cell, said Thompson.
“I want to take the opportunity to thank each and every employee for their commitment and hard work. We will continue to focus on safety, environmental stewardship, and moving the project forward,” said Federal Cleanup Director Russell McCallister. “I would also like to recognize all of our folks for their dedication to doing things better, faster and smarter than ever before.”