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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Region 8 - Uravan Uranium
  Serving Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 27 Tribal Nations
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Uravan Uranium

Uravan, Colorado, Montrose County, Congressional District #3;
EPA ID# COD 007063274

National Priorities List
Construction Complete

April 2002


The 450-acre Uravan Uranium site began as a radium-recovery plant in 1912. Its owners converted it for vanadium extraction.  From the 1940s to 1984, the plant operated as a uranium- and vanadium- processing facility.

Operations at the 450-acre site left a large volume of wastes, contaminating air, soil and ground water near the plant and the San Miguel River.

Contaminants included radioactive products such as  raffinates, raffinate crystals and mill tailings containing uranium and radium.  Other chemicals in the tailings and ground water were heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and vanadium.

EPA added the site to its National Priorities List in 1986. The State of Colorado agreed to be the lead agency for the cleanup. 

Cleanup remedies include:

  • Capping and revegetating nearly ten million cubic yards of radioactive tailings;
  • Disposing of 530,000 cubic yards of radioactive raffinate crystals;
  • Eliminating process ponds;
  • Pumping and treating contaminated ground water;
  • Securing 12 million yards of tailings waste along the San Miguel River;
  • Dismantling the 2 mills and placing all old building-demolition materials in a secure area;
  • Excavating and disposing of contaminated soil in a secure area, replanting these areas; and
  • Dismantling and cleaning up the town of Uravan.

Wastes are being contained on the site; pollution of the San Miguel River is under control; and there is no longer any residential exposure to radiation.Currently, radon levels meet both federal and state regulations.

The work was finished in 2001, except for some long-term ground-water cleanup. During 1999, EPA conducted a second Five-year Review of the site, finding a few deficiencies that are being corrected.

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