More atomic history: Uranium tailings

December 20, 2006

DOE installs permeable reactive barrier in MonticelloPhoto at left shows work to install a permeable reactive barrier (PRB) to help clean up contamination from arsenic, molybdenum, nitrate, vanadium and uranium wastes at an EPA Superfund Site managed by the U.S. Department of Energy near Monticello, Utah. The cleanup was done under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law better known as Superfund. (DOE photo)

GOAT, the blog of High Country News, carried a short story that brought me nasty flashbacks.

Families in Monticello, Utah, wonder whether there is a connection between local clusters of leukemia the old, abandoned uranium works at the edge of town.

“Each depth had its own color. If the sun was just right, it was really pretty.” That’s how Steve Pehrson described the ponds he and his friends swam in as kids, as told to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. He and other Monticello, Utah, kids commonly cooled off in the tailings ponds at the uranium mill that sat on the edge of town. The kids also dug into the tailings piles, and the tailings were used in gardens and even sandboxes. Now, people in Monticello are looking into the link between these habits and cases of leukemia and other diseases that have cropped up amongst the citizenry.

If you follow that link to the Grand Junction (Colorado) Daily Sentinel, you find more stories, and more horrifying stories. Read the rest of this entry »

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