As the initial prime contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy for nearly five years on the uranium tailings removal project near Moab, Utah, EnergySolutions applied safety, innovation and logistics know-how to remove and isolate over 5 million tons of the material.
Located 250 yards from the Colorado River and 3 miles northwest of Moab, Utah, the once 60-foot high tailings pile had been subject to wind and rain water erosion. The 130-acre, 16-million ton pile stood out among the otherwise pristine landscape in one of the west’s most revered hiking, biking and recreational areas featuring two popular national parks.
The pile of material was left from uranium ore processing at the site from 1956 until 1984. The tailings are contaminated with ammonia, naturally-occurring uranium, thorium, and radium as well as silica quartz and some other metals. The pile’s proximity to the Colorado River long made removing the tailings and cleaning the site up a priority for local citizens, regulatory agencies and downstream municipalities that rely on the river for drinking water and other resources.