Time Period: 1943-1945
Facility Type: Department of Energy
Facility Description: : The Manhattan Engineer District (MED) obtained uranium from residues left over from the production of vanadium. The resulting product made at these plants was called “green sludge.” It was further processed at Grand Junction. Two plants in Uravan, Colorado, provided the MED with uranium extracted from green sludge. The green sludge plant in Uravan owned by Union Carbide and operated by its subsidiary, the U.S. Vanadium Company, is not covered under EEOICPA.
This listing applies only to the MED-owned plant, which was located on the north side of the San Miguel River. The U.S. Vanadium Company operated the MED-owned plant under a fixed fee contract during World War II. The plant was shut down in 1945.
Contractors: The U.S. Vanadium Company, a subsidiary of the Union Carbide Corporation (1943-1945).
The site is located in the western portion of Montrose County on Highway 141 approximately 13 miles northwest of the Town of Nucla and 81 miles south of the Town of Whitewater in Mesa County. The town of Uravan was demolished during remedial activities at the site and, except for a couple of historical buildings, no longer exists. The City of Montrose is 115 miles southeast of Uravan, and Grand Junction is located 90 miles to the northeast. The site is located on the bank of the San Miguel River which drains into the Colorado River.
Mining operations in this area of Colorado began in the early 1900s. Mining of radium-bearing carnotite ore (K2 (UO2)(VO4)2) began in approximately 1910 when Standard Chemical Company first acquired mining claims in the area. The Standard Chemical Company built a radium recovery mill known as the Joe Junior Mill in 1914. The mill was located on the valley floor along the San Miguel River at the site of what later became known as “A-Plant”.
In 1929, the U.S. Vanadium Corporation, a subsidiary of Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation (UCC) purchased the Standard Chemical Company’s claims in the area. U.S. Vanadium Corporation expanded the A-Plant in 1934, constructing a mill and roasting plant to recover vanadium from the carnotite ore. The town of Uravan was established in 1935 to house workers and their families at the mill and mine facilities. In 1937 and 1938, the mill reportedly was also extracting uranium from the ore through uranium recovery circuits. During this operation, approximately 250,000 pounds of triuranium octoxide (U3O8) was produced in the form of green sludge. This sludge was refined in Uravan and vanadium and uranium concentrates were produced.
The Uravan mill’s capacity was expanded in the early 1940s and 1950s to meet the demand for uranium required by the United States government’s weapons programs. The mill circuits were continually improved to meet product demand and the “ B-Plant” was constructed in 1955. The B-PLANT was located on a bench on Club Mesa several hundred feet above the San Miguel River. Uranium was recovered from the leach liquors with a column ion-exchange process, followed by precipitation and drying of the yellow cake. Tailings from B-Plant were placed in piles on a bench of Club Mesa. A radium removal circuit was installed in 1958 to treat waste solutions. Three unlined Club Ranch Ponds were constructed between 1963 and 1965 to aid liquid disposal through a combination of evaporation and seepage. Additional liquid waste disposal improvements added later included the addition of a neutralization circuit to permit part of the wastes to be discharged to the San Miguel River and the installation of a spray evaporation system in 1976 on Club Mesa. Between 1936 and 1984, when Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation operated the mill complex, approximately 42 million pounds of uranium and 222 million pounds of vanadium were produced. Umetco Minerals Corporation (Umetco), a subsidiary of Union Carbide, has operated the facility since its closure in 1984.
Green Sludge Plant in Uravan is listed as a Department of Energy (DOE) site under the EEOICPA.
As of 04/05/2015, the total compensation paid under Part B of the EEOICPA, including medical compensation, for workers suffering from the effects of having worked at Green Sludge Plant in Uravan is $468,199.
Green Sludge Plant in Uravan Workers:
If you or your parent worked at this or any other AWE facility and became ill, you may be entitled to compensation of up to $400K plus medical benefits from the US Department of Labor. Call EEOICPA Counsel Hugh Stephens at 1-855-EEOICPA (336-4272) or fill out the form to the right, even if your claim has been accepted or denied.
We can help with all OWCP (Federal Workers Compensation) claims, impairments, wage loss and health care. 2495 Main Street, Suite 442 Buffalo, NY 14214.