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Colorado River threatened by radioactive waste

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by Shane B., Feb 23, 2005.

  1. Shane B.

    Shane B. Guest

    Colorado River threatened by radioactive waste By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 02/21/2005

    SALT LAKE CITY -- Gov. Jon Huntsman is warning the U.S. Department of Energy that a flood could sweep radioactive material piled beside the Colorado River near Moab into the water. "Recent flooding in the St. George and Santa Clara regions of Utah also demonstrated the swift and immense force of moving water in the desert," he wrote in the letter, which was copied to Utah media outlets.

    "We cannot afford to assume the risks associated with having uranium tailings strewn along river banks and bars of the Colorado River below Moab."

    The 94-foot-tall waste pile came from Moab's rich uranium deposits, which were mined in the 1950s for nuclear bombs. The Uranium Reduction Co. sold its mill in 1962 to Atlas Corp., which ran it sporadically until declaring bankruptcy in 1998.

    The Energy Department took over the site in 2001.

    Huntsman called for the construction of a repository at Klondike Flats, near Moab, which could be reached by the existing rail line.

    "This work should be commenced immediately, and federal funding should be sought to complete the work as promptly as possible," he wrote.

    "Now is the time to act -- to move the tailings pile."

    Diane Nielson, executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, said her department hopes the DOE "will understand the importance of moving the tailings off the bank of the Colorado River."

    The DOE has been accepting comments on a draft identified impact statement concerning the tailings pile. Alternatives it has considered include doing nothing, disposing of the tailings where they are or moving them to one of three offsite disposal areas.

    Disposal facilities could be at Klondike Flats; Crescent Junction, near the town by that name in Grand County, about 20 miles east of Green River; and the White Mesa Mill near Blanding.

    DOE officials have not yet chosen a preferred option.
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