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Uranium Mill in Naturita

State: Colorado
Location: Naturita
Time Period: DOE (Remediation) May – November 1994 and June 1996 through September 1998
Facility Type: Department of Energy

Facility Description: This former uranium and vanadium ore processing facility processed about 704,000 tons of ore. This ore processing is covered under the auspices of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act and is not separately covered under EEOICPA. However, DOE environmental remediation contractors performed environmental remediation under the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (Public Law 95-604) at this former processing site from May through November of 1994 and again from June of 1996 through September 1998. DOE and DOE contractor employees who performed this remediation are covered under EEOICPA.

Listing:
The Uranium Mill in Naturita is listed as an Atomic Weapons Employer (AWE) site and as a Department of Energy (DOE) site under the EEOICPA.

Compensation:
As of 06/07/2015, the total compensation paid under Parts B and E of the EEOICPA, including medical compensation, for workers suffering from the effects of having worked at the Uranium Mill in Naturita is $0.

Uranium Mill in Naturita Workers:
If you or your parent worked at this or any other DOE or 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, whether 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.

*Site Description and History:
The Naturita processing site is a former uranium- and vanadium-ore processing facility in western Colorado, about 2 miles northwest of the city of Naturita in Montrose County, Colorado. The site occupies about 79 acres of land that is bounded by the San Miguel River on the east and State Highway 141 on the west. The City of Naturita currently owns the central portion of the site, and Chemetall Foote Corporation owns the northern and southern parts of the site. The mill operated intermittently between the 1930s and 1958, during which time it processed approximately 704,000 tons of ore. Before 1942, the mill processed only vanadium ore; in 1942, the operations were altered to include recovery of uranium for the Manhattan Engineer District project (the Manhattan Project). From 1961 to 1963, Vanadium Corporation of America operated a uranium upgrader at the site. These past milling operations produced a pile of radioactive tailings, a predominantly sandy materia that covered about 24 acres of the site. An additional 126 acres of soil around the tailings pile were contaminated from ore storage and windblown tailings. Groundwater beneath the site became contaminated as constituents in the tailings pile leached into the underlying soil. Between 1977 and 1979, Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation bought the 24-acre tailings pile and moved the material offsite for reprocessing to extract additional uranium and vanadium.

From 1993 to 1997, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) removed 800,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and other contaminated materials from the site and stabilized them in an engineered disposal cell near the former townsite of Uravan, Colorado, 15 miles northwest of Naturita. Umetco Minerals Corporation owned the disposal cell site until 1997, when ownership was transferred to DOE.

Contamination was left in place at the Naturita processing site in five areas totaling 11 acres on the site and in another 11 acres on an adjacent downgradient property. More than 1 acre of contaminated soil on the site was left in place because the radium-226 concentrations still exceeded the standard even though soil had been excavated to 1 foot below the water table. Contaminated areas on the site and on the downgradient property were left in place because removing the material would produce excessive environmental harm and increased risk to workers who would have to remove it compared to the low radiological hazard. These areas are along the steep slopes of State Highway 141, near high- voltage power poles, and in wetland areas adjacent to the San Miguel River.

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