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Environmental Contaminants Cleanup of Hazardous Waste

Shiprock Uranium Mill (San Juan River)

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The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

The now abandoned Shiprock uranium mill processed uranium ore from mines throughout Northwest New Mexico, dumping tailings and process water into the riparian floodplain of the San Juan River. Tailings have been largely removed from the floodplain and placed in an on-site disposal cell as part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) program. However, 1980's human-health based remediation did not fully consider ecological risks to fish and wildlife, including the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher. Today, with the extensive technical input of Contaminants Biologists at the NMESFO, ecological concerns are now being addressed. At our request, DOE completed a detailed ecological risk assessment of the site that revealed residual risks to listed species and migratory birds. The DOE has agreed to address these risks, and to continue informal Section 7 Endangered Species Act consultation. Since initiation of this project, the same DOE group is now been tasked with cleanup of the Atlas Mill site in Moab, Utah. The ecological expertise the DOE has gained working with the NMESFO should help expedite an ecologically sound cleanup in Moab.

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This webpage was last modified on: December 21, 2005

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