Uranium mill tailings background

The communities in western Colorado where uranium mill tailings were cleaned up are:
  • Durango.
  • Grand Junction.
  • Fruita.
  • Palisade.
  • Gunnison.
  • Maybell.
  • Naturita.
  • Rifle.
  • Slick Rock.
In all cases except Maybell, this resulted in the relocation of the tailings to off-site engineered disposal cells. Maybell was encapsulated on site.
  • 15 million cubic yards of uranium tailings were removed to controlled disposal sites from the nine uranium mill sites and approximately 5,000 other contaminated properties.
  • The disposal cells were constructed using strict groundwater, geologic and erosion criteria and are designed to encapsulate the material, reduce radon emanation and prevent the movement of water through the material.
  • The cells are designed to last for 200 to 1,000 years, are erosion-resistant and located primarily away from populated areas.
  • These structures will continue to be monitored and maintained in the future by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Final authorization for uranium mill tailings surface cleanup ended in 1998.