White Mesa Uranium Mill

Jun 22, 2017
The White Mesa Uranium Mill is the country's only operating conventional uranium mill, just 3 miles from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe's White Mesa community. Built in 1979 to process uranium ore from the Colorado Plateau, the mill processes uranium from mines across the Colorado Plateau and has been importing radioactive waste called "alternate feed material" since 1987. While Energy Fuels recovers and sells some uranium and vanadium from the waste, their primary source of revenue is the fees associated with storing the toxic materials in the mill's tailings impoundments. This waste includes shipments from Superfund sites, as well as radioactive waste from nuclear test sites.

The mill has been operating with a license that expired 10 years ago, and radon emissions from the mill exceeded Clean Air Act standards in 2012 and 2013; the mill is also violating a regulation that limits the number of active waste pits to two. The operators want to start accepting and processing waste from another site in Oklahoma.