Tailings pile makes waves

Uranium mine tailings piled on the banks of the Colorado River near Moab, Utah, will stay put if the Nuclear Regulatory Agency and Atlas Minerals Co. get their way. In a draft environmental impact statement released in January, the federal agency says reclaiming the tailings mountain on site - as the mining company has proposed - is the best option. But simply capping 130 acres of radioactive debris with earth and rock doesn't sit well with Grand County Councilman Bill Hedden. He, along with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and the state of Utah, wants the sandy tailings moved away from the river. "It's 11 million tons of really nasty junk and it's going right in the groundwater," Hedden says. The nuclear agency says moving the pile will cost up to 10 times more than capping it.

For a copy of the draft EIS (NUREG-1531) and accompanying Draft Technical Evaluation Report (NUREG-1532), call 202/512-1800. To comment by March 30, contact Chief, High-Level Waste and Uranium Recovery Projects Branch, Division of Waste Management, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, Mail Stop TWFN 7J-9, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555 (301/415-7238).

*Dustin Solberg