Moab Utah Uranium Clean Up Part Of D.O.E. Project To Clean Up 5,200 Uranium Mill Tailings Sites
14 million tons of uranium tailings being moved to 400 acre desert disposal site
The Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project, or UMTRA, is a Department of Energy program to clean up uranium mill tailings, the byproduct of uranium refinement for the creation of nuclear materials used for bombs and to power nuclear power plants, totaling over five-thousand properties in ten states.
UMTRA, under the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA), was also created to decommission and dispose of 24 Uranium mills across the country, including the Moab UMTRA project, which was created to clean up a large pile of Uranium tailings which sits just three miles north of the town of Moab, Utah.
The Moab UMTRA project was created after it was discovered that isotopes of Uranium were found in the Colorado River, which drains into Lake Mead, a drinking water source for the city of Los Angeles.
Scientists became concerned that a large flooding event could happen at the Moab location, resulting in the Colorado River and LA's drinking water being filled with Uranium isotopes.
The Moab UMTRA project hopes to remove the 2,000 ft wide, 1000 ft high pile of Uranium tailings and other debris from the demolition of a former Uranium processing facility used to process yellowcake Uranium for the post Nagasaki Manhatten Project and bury the existing pile in a safer location near Cresent Junction, a stretch of the Utah desert that is virtually devoid of human life, just west of the Colorado/Utah border.
So far, the controversial Moab program has removed over nine million tons of debris, with a total of fourteen million tons scheduled for removal and is projected to cost $2 billion dollars, at current estimates.
On a daily basis, water is sprayed on the large pile of tailings, which has been capped with a layer of dirt, in order to prevent Uranium dust from filling the air and poisoning the local Moab citizens.
The primary exposure pathway for Uranium exposer is ingestion, either directly or via consumption or by breathing in radioactive dust.
"This town was founded on Uranium mining," said a local citizen of Moab, Utah, "and the trucks used to fly through town spreading Uranium dust everywhere."
"There's an entire generation of children with cleft pallets, locally believed to be a symptom of Uranium exposure, which is known to cause genetic mutations in human beings and animals," stated the Moab resident.
Federal records reveal a cancer cluster in Moab, but the study attributes the lung cancer cluster to the higher level of smokers in the area.
The results of the study are hotly debated because other studies have shown the cancer cluster is similar to cancer clusters that have appeared in Navajo uranium miners, who have a 40% higher likelihood of cancer when compared to Navajo who did not participate in Uranium mining.
"We believe this town has been poisoned with Uranium and that we should be compensated by the government as Downwinders," said the resident.
The Downwinders are a classification of people who have been exposed to radiation from the US government's efforts to build and detonate a nuclear bomb in the 1940's.