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Moab UMTRA Project

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has completed about 55% of a project to move 16 million tons of uranium tailings from the banks of the Colorado River, near the city of Moab, to a permanent disposal site 32 miles north, near Crescent Junction. This project is called the Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project.

Project Site Location

The Moab Tailings Project Site is located approximately 3 miles northwest of Moab in Grand County, Utah, and includes the former Atlas Minerals Corporation (Atlas) uranium-ore processing facility. The site is situated on the west bank of the Colorado River at the confluence with Moab Wash. The site encompasses 480 acres, of which approximately 130 acres is covered by a uranium mill tailings pile.

Courtesy of Tom Till

Birds Eye View of Moab Tailings
DOE restricts access to the radiological control area of the site where the mill tailings and the highest concentrations of soil contamination exist. Security staff are on site 7 days per week, while maintenance activities, erosion control measures, tailings excavation and conditioning, ground water remediation activities, and health and safety oversight are conducted 4 - 5 days per week.

Moving Tailings

The Moab Project ships 1 trainload of tailings Monday and Wednesday. The trains have up to 36 railcars, each holding 4 lidded containers, for a total of about 5,000 tons of tailings per shipment. Tailing shipments began in April, 2009, and are expected to continue through about 2034, depending on annually appropriated funds. An unknown additional amount of contaminated soil from below the tailings pile will also need to be excavated and shipped.