URAVAN URANIUM PROJECT (UNION CARBIDE CORP.)
On this page:
- What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?
- What Is the Current Site Status?
- Operable Units (opens new page)
- Cleanup Progress (opens new page)
The 680-acre Uravan Uranium Project (Union Carbide Corp.) site is located in Uravan, Colorado. A radium-recovery plant started operating on site in 1912. From the 1940s to 1984, the plant operated as a uranium and vanadium processing facility. Site activities and waste disposal practices contaminated soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals and radioactive constituents. Following cleanup, operation and maintenance activities are ongoing.
What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?
The site is being addressed through state, federal and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions.
EPA has conducted several five-year reviews of the site’s remedy. These reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision documents. The most recent review concluded that response actions at the site are in accordance with the remedy selected by EPA and that the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment in the short term. Continued protectiveness of the remedy requires assessing the site to determine appropriate institutional controls and approving the alternative soil standards application in areas where remedial activities did not meet soil cleanup goals. Additional required actions include completing a characterization investigation of the two areas found with elevated radiological activity and re-evaluating groundwater alternate concentration levels based on new state standards for molybdenum and uranium.
What Is the Current Site Status?
The long-term remedy included moving more than 3 million cubic yards of mill wastes and contaminated materials along the San Miguel River to secure repositories on Club Mesa; capping and revegetating nearly 10 million cubic yards of radioactive tailings; and extracting and disposing of contaminated soil. Cleanup also included replanting excavated areas; treating contaminated groundwater; eliminating process ponds; dismantling two mills; and dismantling and cleaning up the town of Uravan.
In 2006, in a coordinated effort between the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Umetco, a significant source of contamination was removed from beneath Highway 141. At the same time, CDOT reconfigured the road to improve safety. In addition, a series of process ponds next to Highway 141 were cleaned up. The Highway 141 portion of the Superfund site was taken off the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in the fall of 2007.
Remedy construction took place between 1987 and 2008. Following cleanup, site monitoring is ongoing.
During cleanup, a site can be divided into a number of distinct areas depending on its complexity. These areas, called operable units (OUs), may address geographic areas, specific problems, or areas where a specific action is required. Examples of typical operable units include construction of a groundwater pump and treatment system or construction of a cap over a landfill.