The NFRC was established in 2002 to promote the construction and operation of nuclear reprocessing facilities. NFRC promotes reprocessing commercial spent nuclear fuel that is generated by commercial nuclear power plants.

Reprocessing dramatically reduces the amount of high-level radioactive waste that would have to be stored in a geologic repository. We also support reprocessing plutonium and highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads into fuel for use in commercial nuclear power plants.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Northeast Church Rock Mine Superfund Reclamation

Northeast Church Rock Mine site (Photo courtesy United Nuclear Corporation)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a plan for the clean up of the largest and highest priority abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation. Cleanup of the Northeast Church Rock Mine will include removal of 1.4 million tons of soil contaminated with radium and uranium from a site that was operated as a uranium ore mine by United Nuclear Corporation from 1967 to 1982. Located near Gallup, New Mexico, the mine adjoins the United Nuclear Corporation uranium mill site, a Superfund site managed jointly by EPA Region 6 and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. At the request of the Navajo Nation, the EPA is using Superfund authority to investigate and clean up the contaminated mine site, in coordination with the existing adjacent Superfund site clean up.

Most of the 125-acre mine permit area is immediately adjacent to the Navajo Nation. The mine is mostly on Navajo tribal trust land, while the mill is on private fee land. There is a small community of residents who live next to the mine site on the reservation, downstream and downwind of the radioactive waste piles. The residents graze sheep, cattle and horses, and collect herbs around the area.

The disposal cell will be designed with participation from the Navajo Nation, the State of New Mexico, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Northeast Church Rock mine operated as a uranium ore mine from approximately 1967 to 1982, and included an 1,800-foot deep shaft, waste piles, and several surface ponds. Under U.S. EPA oversight and in conjunction with the Navajo Nation EPA, General Electric, United Nuclear Corporation's indirect parent corporation, conducted two previous cleanups at the site to deal with residual contamination, including the removal and rebuilding of one building in 2007, and removal of over 40,000 tons of contaminated soil in 2010. (Environment News Service, 9/29/2011)

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