Grand County Council chair Gene Ciarus (left) holds a plaque with tiles that represent the tons of the tailings to be moved from the UMTRA site north of Moab. At the Tuesday, June 18 county council meeting, UMTRA project director Don Metzler (center) moved one of the tiles from plaque Ciarus is holding to the one councilman Lynn Jackson holds, which represents the tons of tailings moved to a permanent disposal site.

Crews at the Moab Tailings site north of Moab recently moved the sixth million ton of tailings from the pile to a permanent disposal site 30 miles north near Crescent Junction. The site had a total of 16 million tons of tailings to be moved when the Uranium Mill Tailing Remediation Action (UMTRA) project began moving the tailings in 2009. Thirty-eight percent of the tailings removal is now completed.

UMTRA project director Don Metzler presented a plaque segment marking the six million ton milestone at the June 18 Grand County Council meeting.

“The federal budget continues to be stretched thin, and I am proud this project has used its limited funding wisely and is almost 38 percent complete,” said Federal Project Director Donald Metzler. “This has been accomplished while striving to exceed DOE’s stringent safety goals and despite a first-ever, three-month curtailment of shipping operations this past winter.”

Metzler also expressed cautious optimism that the $36 million line item for the Moab Project in the President Baracks Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal will be retained.

If so, the Moab Project would be able to move tailings year-round with no repeat of last winter’s three-month furlough.

“The employees deserve the credit for this significant project milestone,” said Jeff Biagini, Remedial Action Contractor Project Manager for Portage, Inc. “Having a workforce that is dedicated to performing its work at the highest level and in the safest manner is what got us to this point.”

The tailings are transported by rail in sealed metal containers to Crescent Junction, which is located 30 miles north of the Moab site. The tailings are placed in a DOE-constructed, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission-approved disposal cell near Crescent Junction and capped with a nine-foot-thick, multi-layered cover composed of native soils and rock.

The employees deserve the credit for this significant project milestone.”