One long haul

  • Uranium tailings en route to Crescent Junction, Utah. DOE Sources: Moab UMTRA Project; Wendee Ryan, Public Affairs Manager, S&K Aerospace, Inc.; USGS; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; U.S. Department of Energy; Shaun C. Gibson
 

On Jan. 7, a train hauled 136 containers of uranium tailings away from the old Atlas mill site along the Colorado River just north of Moab, Utah -- the biggest load since the colossal cleanup effort began last May. Twice a day, locomotives chug off from a siding near the 439-acre site (130 acres of which are covered with tailings), a Cold War relic that threatens to contaminate the river. Congress has set a 2019 deadline for the site's remediation, but it might take up to 20 years to move all the hazardous red dirt, which emits low levels of radiation, to a repository site in Crescent Junction, 30 miles away.