Environment News Service

AmeriScan: February 14, 2000

URANIUM MILL TAILINGS IN UTAH SEEPING DOWN THE COLORADO RIVER

MOAB, Utah, February 14, 2000 (ENS) - An enormous pile of uranium mill tailings from 30 years of uranium production is heaped on the bank of the Colorado River at Moab, Utah and is slowly releasing radiation and heavy metals into the river and bodies of water downstream. One of those water bodies is Lake Havasu in Arizona, formed by the Parker Dam. Water from Lake Havasu is drawn out to serve the water needs of Southern California communities including Los Angeles and San Diego.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson visited the Moab Tailings Dump on Friday with a proposal to to spend $300 million to clean up and remove the 10.5 million tons of tailings. The funds have been included in the President Bill Clinton's proposed federal budget for the fiscal year 2001. Department of Energy spokesman Bill Wicker told the Lake Havasu City newspaper, "Today's News Herald," that the cleanup has received bipartisan support in Congress and is expected to pass with little debate. Bill Davis, lab manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, says regular monthly testing of Lake Havasu shows levels of radioactivity increasing slowly. Radiation now measures about one-third the maximum contaminant level allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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