Umetco Uravan

1.0 General Site Information

Site Location: Uravan, CO
Agreement State Contact: Shiya Wang Shiya.Wang@state.co.us
NRC Agreement State Site Monitor: Stephen Poy Stephen.Poy@nrc.gov
NRC Site Monitor: Thomas Lancaster Thomas.Lancaster@nrc.gov

2.0 Site Description

The 863-acre Uravan Site is located in southwestern Colorado in the western portion of Montrose County on State Highway 141, approximately 15 miles northwest of Naturita and 90 miles southwest of Grand Junction. The site is located in a region characterized by an arid climate, sparse vegetation, and rugged topography. Uravan is in the eastern part of the Canyonland section of the Colorado Plateau. The topography of this region is primarily canyons and mesas. The site is located on the valley floor of the San Miguel River and on benches of Club Mesa west of the San Miguel River Canyon.

3.0 Site History

The Uravan site began operations in 1914 as a radium mill and later expanded operations to include extraction of other metals as well as uranium. Uravan was a licensed and operating mill at the time of passage of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (UMTRCA) (November 1978) making it a Title II mill, even though some of the contamination is a result of practices going back to the earlier operations. NUREG-0706, Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement on Uranium Milling, makes specific mention of this situation and calls for active programs to address residual contamination during the operational phase. This site is part of the UMTRCA Title II program administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The Uravan mill ceased operations in 1984 and began decommissioning planning and implementation. The site was listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1986. CDPHE is designated as the Lead Agency at this site under a Memorandum of Agreement signed with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region VIII in 1986.

Decommissioning and reclamation of the Uravan facility  consisted of stabilizing existing tailings impoundments, demolishing site structures, relocating the contaminated structural materials and contaminated mill site tailings and soils to four primary disposal areas onsite known as Tailings Pile 1/2, Tailings Pile 3, the B-Plant Repository, and Raffinate Crystal Repository (variously referred to as the Burbank or Lower Burbank Title II Disposal Cell or Repository.

On October 10, 2007, the State of Colorado submitted a proposal for alternative standards for soil cleanup for four areas of the Umetco Minerals Corporation's Uravan mill site in Montrose County, Colorado (ML081150505). The State submitted additional documentation dated March 20, 2009 (ML092820404). Colorado has proposed using alternative soil standards for these areas and provided a justification for the alternative soil standards where radium-226 is in excess of the protection requirements in, Title 6, Code of Colorado Regulations (CCR) 1007-1 Radiation Control, Part 18, Appendix A, Criterion 6 (6 CCR 1007-1, Part 18, Appendix A) (equivalent to the federal regulations in 10 CFR Part 40, Appendix A). The application contains a description of the four areas and information to support the application for alternative soil standards in the four areas. The alternative standards areas are within the site to be transferred to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for long-term surveillance activities. The staff's review of the Colorado submittal concluded that Colorado provided sufficient information for the alternative standards evaluation.   The NRC approved the alternate standards on May 18, 2012.

Source:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Sixth Five-Year Review Report for Uravan Uranium Project (Union Carbide Corp) Superfund Site, Montrose County Colorado September 15, 2020, https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/08/100008635
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Sixth Five-Year Review Report for Uravan Uranium Project (Union Carbide Corp) Superfund Site, Montrose County Colorado September 15, 2020, https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/08/100008635

4.0 Current NRC actions/status

None. NRC staff interacts with CDPHE staff on a regular basis to remain aware of CDPHE activities at the site and to determine when NRC will need to become involved in the termination of the Uravan license.

5.0 Expected Transition to DOE for LTS&M

2026 (See DOE LM Site Management Guide, March 2022)

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, May 19, 2022