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6 million tons of Moab tailings removed, 10 million to go

Published June 19, 2013 2:29 pm

Environment • 10 million tons remain to be hauled off by rail.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

About 6 million tons of uranium-processing waste has been removed from the banks of the Colorado River near Moab so far.

The U.S. Energy Department reported Tuesday that another 10 million tons remains to be loaded onto railcars and buried in a specialized landfill 30 miles north at Crescent Junction.

"The federal budget continues to be stretched thin," said Federal Project Director Don Metzler, "and I am proud this project has used its limited funding wisely and is almost 38 percent complete."

The project paused for three months this winter because of budget limits. But the Obama administration's budget for next year includes almost $36 million for work on the tailings pile — enough to cover the cost of uninterrupted operations.

The department is moving the tailings to prevent leaching of uranium and other contaminants into the Colorado, a resource used by more than 30 million people. At the disposal cell, the contaminated waste will be capped with a nine-foot-thick, multi-layered cover of soil and rock.

fahys@sltrib.com

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