Work to resume on cleanup of Moab tailings pile

Crews work to clean up a mill-tailings site near Moab, Utah, along the banks of the Colorado River, in this Nov. 15, 2012, file photo. After breaking for the winter, work will soon start up again, and trains will continue moving the tailings to Crescent Junction, Utah.

Work will resume next week on the cleanup of millions of tons of uranium mill tailings from Moab, Utah, after the project was stalled for the winter.

In all, 27 employees of the contractor to the U.S. Energy Department will return to work Monday, and operations are to resume March 7, after employees receive refresher training and a review of procedures.

Returning employees had chosen to be laid off for the winter and all are coming back to their old jobs, the Energy Department said.

Employees who worked through the winter installed permanent liners in the containers used to transport the tailings from Moab north 30 miles to Crescent Junction by rail. The liners are intended to prevent tailings from sticking to the sides of the containers and their use will ultimately increase efficiency, said Don Metzler, who directs the project for the Energy Department.

Previously, employees had placed single-use liners in the containers.

“The sustained below-freezing temperatures this winter made the container-lining project an even more difficult task than already anticipated,” Metzler said. “But, as usual, the workforce didn’t let the cold weather keep them from getting the job done.”

In all, 40 employees worked through the winter.

The cleanup will result in the transfer of 16 million tons of mill tailings from a pile near Moab to Crescent Junction.

The project is to be complete by 2025.


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