mill tailing for dressing

tailings: dangerous wastes or precious treasures? | fote machinery

tailings: dangerous wastes or precious treasures? | fote machinery

Tailings definition: tailings are composed of waste rocks and industrial wastewater produced by mineral processing plants. After processing the minerals by facilities and chemicals and extracted the required products, the remaining minerals are called tailings, mine tailings or mine wastes.

Tailings' classifications: mining rocks and stones in different types and structures are required to be processed in different beneficiation technologies or mineral dressing ways. And the tailings remained are also different in their particles and shapes.

Therefore, the manufacturer established tailing ponds for the management of the tailings, but many tailings were left unattended after long-term storage so that no one would think about their hiding threatens and values until the tailing dams collapse accident occurred.

After long-term disposal of these slags, their radionuclides can easily enter the groundwater or surface water environment, causing serious damage to the surrounding environment. Radioactive contamination has severe effects on the health of workers and nearby residents.

After the mineral is processed by beneficiation facility, a small number of heavy metals will remain in the tailings. The heavy metals from the tailing disposal will enter the food chain through the enrichment of crops and continuously accumulate in human beings and animals, posing a serious hazard to human health.

At the same time, heavy metals pollution is persistent and highly toxic, which will also cause great damage to local soil and water quality, and will seriously affect the normal life of residents for a long time.

In general, a large number of chemical agents remain in the tailings after the beneficiation, and these chemicals are extremely harmful to the human body. Once inhaled, the chemical gas will cause fatal harm.

The cyanide used for gold beneficiation is a highly toxic agent. The cyanide is called the "king of poisons". When someone inhales cyanide gas, he will lose consciousness within 2 minutes, get a cardiac arrest and die;

Due to the complex chemical characteristics of tailings and the special construction and operation methods of tailings ponds, the storage of them and management of their ponds should be monitored regularly, which takes a lot of manpower and funds.

And tailings dams have a higher risk of dam break than reservoir dams. Once a dam failure occurs, it must cause a number of deaths. Tailings dam failures are the scariest dangers. The safety of residents near the tailing dams cannot be guaranteed under the current situation.

In 2019, VALE Group's tailings dam failure in Minas Gerais killed more than 200 people and deprived over 3,000 residents of their homes. VALE paid $107 million to distressed families and employees affected by the accident.

The accident caused the company's iron ore production capacity to fall severely by more than 40 million tons, and the loss was close to $7.4 billion, and even pushed the global iron ore price to a two-year high.

Some enterprises have begun to turn their eyes on the development and utilization of tailing resources due to the depletion of the world's mining resources and the promotion of environmental protection measures.

Breakthroughs have been made in the use of tailing wastes. For example, some investors extract metals and non-metal elements in tailings and process them into building materials and soil conditioners, etc.

Limited by technical conditions in the past, the rate of the ore beneficiation was extremely low, and the comprehensive utilization of minerals was insufficient, which makes many valued minerals have been piled up and even being discharged into tailings.

2. An iron ore beneficiation plant in Indonesia used a CTB1024 magnetic separator to re-separate iron ore mine waste, and obtained high-quality iron concentrates with a grade of up to 65.76% and an annual output of 39,200 tons of iron concentrates.

3. Peruvian copper mining companies have improved on-site production processes to increase copper and gold dressing rates. At the same time, a sulfur beneficiation facility is added, which brings an annual output value of 1.8 million U.S. dollars.

60% of Russian beneficiation plants use tailings to produce building materials. In addition to manufacturing building glass-ceramics and chemically resistant glass, various mineral cementing materials have also been developed.

In the United States, except for the recovery of fluorite, feldspar, and quartz from tailings rocks, most of them are used for concrete aggregates, foundation and asphalt pavement materials, and tailings have been separated to produce bricks with compressive strength of 35 MPa.

Japan uses flotation iron ore tailings and coal tailings as the main raw materials to make sewer clay pipes, and the Japanese Institute of Pollution Data has patented the use of them as lightweight porous material.

China applies iron ore tailings to non-fired bricks, glass, glass-ceramics, fine concrete aggregates, and road bases. Among them, the base of roads requires a large number of filler tailings will bring a significant economic and environmental benefit to road construction.

Backfilling the mine goaf is one of the most effective ways to directly use tailings. Especially for mining enterprises that cannot set up a tailing pond, backfilling the goaf by tailings has greater environmental and economic significance.

The tailings cementation and filling method is a mature technology now, which can increase the rate of underground mining recovery by 20-50%. The ideal filling method can completely avoid surface subsidence and basically avoid disrupting groundwater balance.

There are many uses of tailings, such as for the production of calcium carbonate and silica aerogels, and so on. It is believed that with the advancement of science and beneficiation technology, more treatment of tailings will be gradually discovered.

Tailing have become the most important issue which obstructs the global sustainable development. Whether from the perspective of the global or any country, the improvement of tailings facilities is very necessary to the socio-economic and environment.

With the development of science and technology, the improvement of beneficiation techniques, the upgrade of dressing facilities and the simplification of operations, the tailings will become precious resources and bring huge economic benefits to more and more enterprises.

As a leading mining machinery manufacturer and exporter in China, we are always here to provide you with high quality products and better services. Welcome to contact us through one of the following ways or visit our company and factories.

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precious metals reclamation mining company

precious metals reclamation mining company

NOTICE: This site is for information purposes only. The information on this site is meant for people outside of the United States. Accessing this site means you acknowledge and agree with these statements.

Apache Mill Tailings USA, Inc. is a precious metals mining company specializing in gold, silver, copper and high value, rare earth minerals reclamation recovery. To maximize profits, accelerate project success and reduce risk, we work with above ground mine and ore mill tailings deposits.

Vast treasures are waiting to be taken from selected properties with already mined tailings piles. Old processing technologies focused only on gold recovery have left behind fortunes which can be easily recovered. No mining is required. These riches are above ground and "shovel ready". Multiple environment friendly, non-toxic processing technologies are available to quickly and profitably reclaim these precious metals. Additional Benefits - We plan to use all reclamation by-product to create mortarless, interlocking building blocks and bricks perfect for construction of affordable housing, retaining walls and civic buildings. Applying this patented technology will create a sustainable, seamless complete manufactured product loop.

Harvesting Fallen Gold. Specializing in the environment friendly reclamation recovery from above ground, previously mined and milled tailings deposits, we do not have to dig or build mines. Normal mining costs are about 50% of the income derived. Apache's reclamation costs are estimated to about 3% of income. Old time ore processing only looking for gold left behind vast treasures of waste tailings piled in above ground dumping sites. Old separation technology missed tremendous amounts of gold. Vast fortunes of precious metals and rare earth elements - Not even known of at the time - were discarded. These treasures are ready to be recovered by Apache using modern processing technology. Our shovel ready, high value tailings processing reclamation business strategy will produce fast revenues and high profits margins.

Advanced Reclamation and Nano Recovery. With several high yield processing processes available to us, we can customized each project operations to deliver maximum profits as fast as possible. Utilizing our specially designed truck mounted systems we can set up production quickly and scale up to multiply production outputs as needed. Loading trucks and shipping ore to vetted crushing and processing facilities will produce rapid project revenues. We also have the option of using on site crushing equipment and non-toxic leaching systems. Dry method heat systems and advanced air separation green technology will be used on future projects. An environment friendly company, Apache Mill Tailings will lead the way in the use of current and new technologies for high profit reclamation processing.

Deposits Worth Billions of Dollars. We select the best high grade, sweet spot mining claims in prime areas of historically known successful gold mining districts. The project sites have immense above ground tailings piles that can be readily processed. Large mining projects or major ore mill processing plants, where the best ore from 100's of miles around was shipped, operated on these sites. Additional projects are being investigated and negotiated for acquisitions at this time. Our targeted projects are located in the Western USA. Assay results verify easily recoverable gold, silver and high value precious metals deposits worth Billions of Dollars. The assets, revenues and profits from these projects alone would make Apache Mill Tailings USA, Inc. a mining industry leader. A conservative projection of $186 Million Monthly Revenue can be generated from targeted projects.

Nothing on this site is to be interpreted as a solicitation or offer of any kind for any purpose in any form or content. All contents of this site is for informational purposes only and is intended only to outline the basic information of potential precious metals reclamation projects and Apache Mill Tailings USA, Inc. potential acquisitions, ownership and future targets. Upon accessing this site, all visitors hereby acknowledge this Disclaimer.

Notice: The information on this site is presented for Discussion Purposes Only. As there are both distinct regulations, security and privacy issues regarding this industry, the enclosed information is most basic and introductory in nature. The information on this site does not constitute an offer to sell or solicit the purchase of any security, nor does it constitute an obligation to underwrite, place or otherwise distribute any security described herein. The Content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. Nothing contained on this site constitutes a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by Apache Mill Tailings USA, Inc. or any third party service provider to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments in this or in any other jurisdiction in which such solicitation or offer would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction.

uranium mill tailings legacy continues - colorado newsline

uranium mill tailings legacy continues - colorado newsline

Salt Lake City native Jim Moore was aware of Grand Junctions uranium mill tailings legacy when he moved to western Colorado in 1981. However, it wasnt on his mind, nor did the seller or real estate agent mention the presence of radioactive mill tailings, when he bought a house there in 2010. Hes not alone.

From the 1940s through the 1970s, uranium was refined to make atomic weapons, which produced huge piles of radioactive waste in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming. Tailings piles sat unprotected for nearly two decades at some mill sites where private citizens and contractors would come load up pickup trucks with the free sandy material to use for construction or landscaping purposes. Uranium mill tailings consist of ground-up ore, radioactive elements and, potentially, other heavy metals.

Unwittingly, people who lived near mills in Colorado and Utah used the tailings in foundations and walls, or as a soil amendment to break up clayey soil. Municipalities used the contaminated dirt as filler underneath sidewalks, streets, and around utilities.

Moore learned his property was contaminated after he tried to sell the house in 2019, after a real estate agent requested a mill tailings report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Anyone can contact the CDPHE to check the status of surveyed properties. Moores prospective buyer backed out when he learned radioactive material was buried on the property.

According to the Department of Energy, the greatest threat to public health and safety is presented by the radioactive decay process of tailings material into radium and radon-222, an inert gas which may cause cancer or genetic mutations. Tailings also emit gamma radiation (high-energy x-rays), which can cause cancer, as well. The former Climax uranium processing mill in Grand Junction stopped allowing people access to the tailings after a 1966 study found elevated levels of radon-222. By then, thousands of nearby vicinity properties had already been contaminated.

Colorados Mesa County Health Department Community Health Needs Assessment for 2018-20 shows the county (which includes Grand Junction) with a higher death rate for lung cancer, with 41.4 people per 100,000 dying from the disease, compared to 28.5 per 100,000 statewide between 2013-15. Though, the health department reports the higher cancer rates could be attributed to a greater number of smokers in Mesa County.

State and federal remediation programs removed radioactive tailings from some Grand Junction properties, although not all. The more stringent DOE Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) project, from the mid-1980s to 1998, cleaned up 22 inactive mill sites and their vicinity properties where radiation and radon levels exceeded safety standards. Grand Junction had the most contamination 4,266 remediated properties met the cleanup criteria compared to Durangos 129, and 424 in Monticello, Utah. Monticello properties were remediated under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-administered Superfund program, where participation was mandatory.

Remediation under UMTRA was voluntary, however, resulting in many owner refusals people who wouldnt allow government contractors on their property to survey for elevated levels of radon or gamma radiation, or to remove any existing mill tailings. They didnt want the disruption, and some discounted the hazards. There were 361 notations of owner refusals, 16 of those outside Mesa County, and five in Durango, said CDPHE environmental protection specialist Joel Doebele.

Tailings were also left in place if certain criteria were met, such as if the indoor space was uninhabited or well-ventilated, or if tailings were outside where radon could not accumulate. Additionally, tailings remain on properties where the cleanup cost would have exceeded the value of the structure. These exceptions have left subsequent generations with contaminated properties.

Hundreds of Mesa County property owners contact the CDPHE each year to check for tailings, with approximately 100 of them seeking further assistance in identifying and removing the waste from their property. The DOE supports the ongoing cleanup efforts by managing the Grand Junction Disposal Site (GJDS), formerly known as the Cheney Disposal Cell, 18 miles south of town.

Jim Moore owned a backhoe and a dump truck and decided to dig out the tailings himself with guidance from the CDPHE, which loaned him a gamma radiation survey meter. As he walked the property, the handheld meter clicked and pointed to a calibrated reading that corresponded to the number of gamma rays hitting it showing him where to dig. He drove three pickup loads of contaminated material to the Grand Junction interim disposal site after the CDPHE made sure he had captured all the contaminated dirt. If I had hired someone it would have cost thousands of dollars, Moore said. Fortunately, I could do it myself.

The White Mesa Uranium Mill in Utah, between Bluff and Blanding, is the only conventional uranium mill still operating in the United States. UMTRA built 19 disposal cells to stabilize and contain the waste removed from the 22 inactive mill sites and their vicinity properties. Those cells are located predominantly on Colorados Western Slope, and in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah; they also exist in Texas, Idaho, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

All of those disposal cells have been permanently capped except for the Grand Junction Disposal Site, which is licensed to accept tailings from Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming and other affected Colorado Western Slope communities. States pay for the disposal, but remediation and delivery of contaminated material to a disposal location are paid for by property owners and by municipalities.

The GJDS was set to close in 2023, which meant it would have stopped accepting materials in fall 2021 to begin the process of permanently capping the facility. However, in December 2020, with a remaining capacity of 223,000 cubic yards (the site currently holds 4.5 million tons of contaminated waste), the GJDS was reauthorized to remain open for another 10 years.

More than a million cubic yards of tailings were used as fill material in roads and along utility corridors in and around Grand Junction, and Congress recognized that the contaminated dirt could be disturbed during future excavations for repairs. To protect its workers, the city often removes tailings during infrastructure upgrades which happens a few times a month during construction season, said Grand Junction Public Works Director Trent Prall. Closure of the GJDS would entail enormous transportation costs and disposal fees to truck it to a licensed commercial facility in Clive, Utah, he said. Energy Solutions Clive Disposal Facility in Utah is approximately 75 miles west of Salt Lake City and roughly 400 miles from Grand Junction.

Congress noted in its disposal site reauthorization that private property owners would likely be dealing with the waste for the foreseeable future a reason the CDPHE supports keeping the Grand Junction Disposal Site open. I did a calculation when we didnt know if the site would remain open, said Mike Cosby, CDPHE environmental protection specialist. If we disposed 3,000 cubic yards (a typical amount delivered to the GJDS every couple of years or so) to Clive not counting transportation fees it would cost over $2 million.

Smith found gamma radiation entering the living room was five times the background level. Radon was also entering the house from mill tailings packed in the crawl space. It worried me, said Smith, whose daughter Grace was 6 at the time. Smith works for a company that manages and collects data from old mines; his wife is a teacher.

Like Moore, Smith decided to remove the tailings himself. Wearing a respirator, Smith chiseled off the bricks and mortar onto a tarp spread out on the ground. CDPHE instructed him to keep the debris wet to cut down on toxic dust and to wash all his tools and himself afterward. He borrowed a dump truck to make three trips to Grand Junctions in-town interim disposal site to dispose of the waste. If the GJDS hadnt been available to use it would have been cost-prohibitive, said Smith, echoing others.

Smith dealt with the crawl space tailings by adding ventilation, and insulation in the floor to deal with the resulting cooler temperatures. We have a radon meter here at the house, he said. I go around and clean off the vents for adequate air flow. Radon mitigation will have to be maintained as long as the house is here. You cant just do it once. Vents must be cleaned; you must have a cross flow of air otherwise radon will come up through the house.

Although cleanup legislation in the 1970s included a requirement that land documents be annotated regarding the existence of tailings, the rule was never implemented due to local opposition that it would affect property values, according to a1999 Environmental Law Institute Research Report.

Cosby and Doebele offer informational seminars for the real estate industry so theyll know to check for and disclose the existence of mill tailings to prospective homebuyers. The CDPHE keeps records for more than 72,000 and growing properties, and encourages buyers and sellers to order mill tailings reports on specific properties.

Sam Marso and his wife Audrey were dismayed to learn there were radioactive tailings on their Grand Junction property two years after they bought their house in 2008. They found documents in the basement left behind by the previous owners.

We would never have bought it, Sam Marso said. Theres a stigma; we didnt know if it was safe. We hired an attorney, navigated the legal system. There was no case law for this exact situation. It was (an) uphill battle. Ultimately, he and his wife reached a settlement with their real estate agent and her employer for nondisclosure.

Whether its fear of litigation, increased awareness, or the fact that its become easier to obtain mill tailings reports, real estate companies in Grand Junction are requesting the tailings reports more often than they did in the past. Former CDPHE program assistant Kate Elsberry made it easier to retrieve the reports by spending the past five years digitizing all the records. Prior to that, anyone wanting to know the tailings status of a property could come to the downtown office where Elsberry would pull up a report on microfiche, scan it, and charge a nominal copying fee for the report. Now, reports are simply emailed. That really increased the requests, Elsberry said.

Jason Smith had learned there were mill tailings on his property after he sought a building permit to add on to his house. Mesa County adopted a policy in 1971 requiring a gamma survey and the removal of any tailings before issuing a building permit. We wanted to ensure anything built from that point forward was not built on top of tailings, Doebele said. He and Cosby would like to see other affected counties adopt the building permit requirement for the safety of its citizens, but that hasnt happened. Requiring a survey before a remodel or construction project would prevent people from unknowingly adding a structure on top of radioactive material.

Cosby meets property owners like Smith and Moore or a hired hauler at the interim disposal site on city property to accept removed material and ensure the truck is clean after dumping the tailings. Every couple of years or so, the state health department then takes the accumulated waste to the GJDS for permanent disposal.

According to historical records, Durango has several contaminated public and private properties. Doebele and Cosby proposed a Durango interim disposal site for La Plata County on Colorado Department of Transportation property near the Colorado-New Mexico border so people wouldnt have to pay to transport the waste to the Grand Junction facility 200 miles away. However, in 2019, the County Planning Commission recommended against it, said La Plata County spokeswoman Megan Graham. There was significant public outcry about it, she said. Citizens were very concerned about it.

There are opponents to the GJDS, as well such as Grand Junction resident Janet Johnson, who would rather see the radioactive waste trucked to Crescent Junction, Utah, where the DOE built a disposal cell to accept tailings from Moabs former Atlas uranium mill site. A huge tailings pile lies next to the Colorado River in Moab.

The Grand Junction Disposal Site is bordered by Bureau of Land Management property on three sides, is double-fenced, has cameras, and signs warning to keep out and that the area is contaminated. The DOE monitors the site weekly and the CDPHE inspects it every year. We have not found any groundwater, soil, or wind-blown contaminant, Cosby said.

Phil Egidi, who worked for the CDPHE before accepting a job at the EPA in 2011, said it would be riskier to dig up the GJDS tailings and truck it elsewhere. Were isolating it, he said. Its safer there than in someones backyard emitting gamma rays, or breathing in the dust (from illegally dumped tailings) in the desert.

Before leaving the state health department, Egidi spent a week traveling historical mining roads in Mesa and Montrose counties measuring gamma radiation while driving 10 mph. He was responding to Mesa County Road Department concerns for employees working on roads embedded with mine rock. The majority of the roads surveyed showed readings within 10 times background count rate ranges. I was up there (in the West End) for about a week, Egidi said. I saw three pickup trucks, one bear, and eight people driving ATVs, kicking up dust, breathing that stuff in.

Everybody reacts differently to radiation, he said. Low concentrations found in vicinity properties are not measurable. You cant tell who is going to get cancer; who is susceptible. Thats why I wanted to get rid of it. I didnt know what would happen to us long-term. What made me so upset, I was able to buy this house without knowing it had tailings on the property.

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Salt Lake City native Jim Moore was aware of Grand Junctions uranium mill tailings legacy when he moved to western Colorado in 1981. However, it wasnt on his mind, nor did the seller or real estate agent mention the presence of radioactive mill tailings, when he bought a house there in 2010. Hes not alone.

From the 1940s through the 1970s, uranium was refined to make atomic weapons, which produced huge piles of radioactive waste in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming. Tailings piles sat unprotected for nearly two decades at some mill sites where private citizens and contractors would come load up pickup trucks with the free sandy material to use for construction or landscaping purposes. Uranium mill tailings consist of ground-up ore, radioactive elements and, potentially, other heavy metals.

Unwittingly, people who lived near mills in Colorado and Utah used the tailings in foundations and walls, or as a soil amendment to break up clayey soil. Municipalities used the contaminated dirt as filler underneath sidewalks, streets, and around utilities.

Moore learned his property was contaminated after he tried to sell the house in 2019, after a real estate agent requested a mill tailings report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Anyone can contact the CDPHE to check the status of surveyed properties. Moores prospective buyer backed out when he learned radioactive material was buried on the property.

According to the Department of Energy, the greatest threat to public health and safety is presented by the radioactive decay process of tailings material into radium and radon-222, an inert gas which may cause cancer or genetic mutations. Tailings also emit gamma radiation (high-energy x-rays), which can cause cancer, as well. The former Climax uranium processing mill in Grand Junction stopped allowing people access to the tailings after a 1966 study found elevated levels of radon-222. By then, thousands of nearby vicinity properties had already been contaminated.

Colorados Mesa County Health Department Community Health Needs Assessment for 2018-20 shows the county (which includes Grand Junction) with a higher death rate for lung cancer, with 41.4 people per 100,000 dying from the disease, compared to 28.5 per 100,000 statewide between 2013-15. Though, the health department reports the higher cancer rates could be attributed to a greater number of smokers in Mesa County.

State and federal remediation programs removed radioactive tailings from some Grand Junction properties, although not all. The more stringent DOE Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) project, from the mid-1980s to 1998, cleaned up 22 inactive mill sites and their vicinity properties where radiation and radon levels exceeded safety standards. Grand Junction had the most contamination 4,266 remediated properties met the cleanup criteria compared to Durangos 129, and 424 in Monticello, Utah. Monticello properties were remediated under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-administered Superfund program, where participation was mandatory.

Remediation under UMTRA was voluntary, however, resulting in many owner refusals people who wouldnt allow government contractors on their property to survey for elevated levels of radon or gamma radiation, or to remove any existing mill tailings. They didnt want the disruption, and some discounted the hazards. There were 361 notations of owner refusals, 16 of those outside Mesa County, and five in Durango, said CDPHE environmental protection specialist Joel Doebele.

Tailings were also left in place if certain criteria were met, such as if the indoor space was uninhabited or well-ventilated, or if tailings were outside where radon could not accumulate. Additionally, tailings remain on properties where the cleanup cost would have exceeded the value of the structure. These exceptions have left subsequent generations with contaminated properties.

Hundreds of Mesa County property owners contact the CDPHE each year to check for tailings, with approximately 100 of them seeking further assistance in identifying and removing the waste from their property. The DOE supports the ongoing cleanup efforts by managing the Grand Junction Disposal Site (GJDS), formerly known as the Cheney Disposal Cell, 18 miles south of town.

Jim Moore owned a backhoe and a dump truck and decided to dig out the tailings himself with guidance from the CDPHE, which loaned him a gamma radiation survey meter. As he walked the property, the handheld meter clicked and pointed to a calibrated reading that corresponded to the number of gamma rays hitting it showing him where to dig. He drove three pickup loads of contaminated material to the Grand Junction interim disposal site after the CDPHE made sure he had captured all the contaminated dirt. If I had hired someone it would have cost thousands of dollars, Moore said. Fortunately, I could do it myself.

The White Mesa Uranium Mill in Utah, between Bluff and Blanding, is the only conventional uranium mill still operating in the United States. UMTRA built 19 disposal cells to stabilize and contain the waste removed from the 22 inactive mill sites and their vicinity properties. Those cells are located predominantly on Colorados Western Slope, and in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah; they also exist in Texas, Idaho, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

All of those disposal cells have been permanently capped except for the Grand Junction Disposal Site, which is licensed to accept tailings from Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming and other affected Colorado Western Slope communities. States pay for the disposal, but remediation and delivery of contaminated material to a disposal location are paid for by property owners and by municipalities.

The GJDS was set to close in 2023, which meant it would have stopped accepting materials in fall 2021 to begin the process of permanently capping the facility. However, in December 2020, with a remaining capacity of 223,000 cubic yards (the site currently holds 4.5 million tons of contaminated waste), the GJDS was reauthorized to remain open for another 10 years.

More than a million cubic yards of tailings were used as fill material in roads and along utility corridors in and around Grand Junction, and Congress recognized that the contaminated dirt could be disturbed during future excavations for repairs. To protect its workers, the city often removes tailings during infrastructure upgrades which happens a few times a month during construction season, said Grand Junction Public Works Director Trent Prall. Closure of the GJDS would entail enormous transportation costs and disposal fees to truck it to a licensed commercial facility in Clive, Utah, he said. Energy Solutions Clive Disposal Facility in Utah is approximately 75 miles west of Salt Lake City and roughly 400 miles from Grand Junction.

Congress noted in its disposal site reauthorization that private property owners would likely be dealing with the waste for the foreseeable future a reason the CDPHE supports keeping the Grand Junction Disposal Site open. I did a calculation when we didnt know if the site would remain open, said Mike Cosby, CDPHE environmental protection specialist. If we disposed 3,000 cubic yards (a typical amount delivered to the GJDS every couple of years or so) to Clive not counting transportation fees it would cost over $2 million.

Smith found gamma radiation entering the living room was five times the background level. Radon was also entering the house from mill tailings packed in the crawl space. It worried me, said Smith, whose daughter Grace was 6 at the time. Smith works for a company that manages and collects data from old mines; his wife is a teacher.

Like Moore, Smith decided to remove the tailings himself. Wearing a respirator, Smith chiseled off the bricks and mortar onto a tarp spread out on the ground. CDPHE instructed him to keep the debris wet to cut down on toxic dust and to wash all his tools and himself afterward. He borrowed a dump truck to make three trips to Grand Junctions in-town interim disposal site to dispose of the waste. If the GJDS hadnt been available to use it would have been cost-prohibitive, said Smith, echoing others.

Smith dealt with the crawl space tailings by adding ventilation, and insulation in the floor to deal with the resulting cooler temperatures. We have a radon meter here at the house, he said. I go around and clean off the vents for adequate air flow. Radon mitigation will have to be maintained as long as the house is here. You cant just do it once. Vents must be cleaned; you must have a cross flow of air otherwise radon will come up through the house.

Although cleanup legislation in the 1970s included a requirement that land documents be annotated regarding the existence of tailings, the rule was never implemented due to local opposition that it would affect property values, according to a1999 Environmental Law Institute Research Report.

Cosby and Doebele offer informational seminars for the real estate industry so theyll know to check for and disclose the existence of mill tailings to prospective homebuyers. The CDPHE keeps records for more than 72,000 and growing properties, and encourages buyers and sellers to order mill tailings reports on specific properties.

Sam Marso and his wife Audrey were dismayed to learn there were radioactive tailings on their Grand Junction property two years after they bought their house in 2008. They found documents in the basement left behind by the previous owners.

We would never have bought it, Sam Marso said. Theres a stigma; we didnt know if it was safe. We hired an attorney, navigated the legal system. There was no case law for this exact situation. It was (an) uphill battle. Ultimately, he and his wife reached a settlement with their real estate agent and her employer for nondisclosure.

Whether its fear of litigation, increased awareness, or the fact that its become easier to obtain mill tailings reports, real estate companies in Grand Junction are requesting the tailings reports more often than they did in the past. Former CDPHE program assistant Kate Elsberry made it easier to retrieve the reports by spending the past five years digitizing all the records. Prior to that, anyone wanting to know the tailings status of a property could come to the downtown office where Elsberry would pull up a report on microfiche, scan it, and charge a nominal copying fee for the report. Now, reports are simply emailed. That really increased the requests, Elsberry said.

Jason Smith had learned there were mill tailings on his property after he sought a building permit to add on to his house. Mesa County adopted a policy in 1971 requiring a gamma survey and the removal of any tailings before issuing a building permit. We wanted to ensure anything built from that point forward was not built on top of tailings, Doebele said. He and Cosby would like to see other affected counties adopt the building permit requirement for the safety of its citizens, but that hasnt happened. Requiring a survey before a remodel or construction project would prevent people from unknowingly adding a structure on top of radioactive material.

Cosby meets property owners like Smith and Moore or a hired hauler at the interim disposal site on city property to accept removed material and ensure the truck is clean after dumping the tailings. Every couple of years or so, the state health department then takes the accumulated waste to the GJDS for permanent disposal.

According to historical records, Durango has several contaminated public and private properties. Doebele and Cosby proposed a Durango interim disposal site for La Plata County on Colorado Department of Transportation property near the Colorado-New Mexico border so people wouldnt have to pay to transport the waste to the Grand Junction facility 200 miles away. However, in 2019, the County Planning Commission recommended against it, said La Plata County spokeswoman Megan Graham. There was significant public outcry about it, she said. Citizens were very concerned about it.

There are opponents to the GJDS, as well such as Grand Junction resident Janet Johnson, who would rather see the radioactive waste trucked to Crescent Junction, Utah, where the DOE built a disposal cell to accept tailings from Moabs former Atlas uranium mill site. A huge tailings pile lies next to the Colorado River in Moab.

The Grand Junction Disposal Site is bordered by Bureau of Land Management property on three sides, is double-fenced, has cameras, and signs warning to keep out and that the area is contaminated. The DOE monitors the site weekly and the CDPHE inspects it every year. We have not found any groundwater, soil, or wind-blown contaminant, Cosby said.

Phil Egidi, who worked for the CDPHE before accepting a job at the EPA in 2011, said it would be riskier to dig up the GJDS tailings and truck it elsewhere. Were isolating it, he said. Its safer there than in someones backyard emitting gamma rays, or breathing in the dust (from illegally dumped tailings) in the desert.

Before leaving the state health department, Egidi spent a week traveling historical mining roads in Mesa and Montrose counties measuring gamma radiation while driving 10 mph. He was responding to Mesa County Road Department concerns for employees working on roads embedded with mine rock. The majority of the roads surveyed showed readings within 10 times background count rate ranges. I was up there (in the West End) for about a week, Egidi said. I saw three pickup trucks, one bear, and eight people driving ATVs, kicking up dust, breathing that stuff in.

Everybody reacts differently to radiation, he said. Low concentrations found in vicinity properties are not measurable. You cant tell who is going to get cancer; who is susceptible. Thats why I wanted to get rid of it. I didnt know what would happen to us long-term. What made me so upset, I was able to buy this house without knowing it had tailings on the property.

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