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Mr. GORE. So it is kind of a negative-cost-plus arrangement. You have to come out ahead on it and if your costs go up that reduces the amount you pay for your resource?
Mr. ANDERSON. Yes, sir, that is so. In their case anything they get is something they didn't have. I don't want to overemphasize that all of these tailings will have any net revenue because most of them it will not. Ours may be the exception to the case. I am not so sure about Durango. The distance we have to haul the material is three times farther than in the case of Naturita.
In the case of the Salt Lake tailings, the grade is about 0.2 to 0.3 of a pound per ton, if I remember right, and there is no way that a company can haul those, say 15 miles, out of town and try to treat the material and come out ahead.
However, if the material was hauled out of town under contract and then were put in tanks like we showed you and prepared properly going into the tanks, the chance is there could be some net revenue.
Mr. GORE. Presumably you are not in it for the fun of it?
Mr. ANDERSON. No, sir. The Naturita case has worked all right because all of the economics worked out. We only had to haul the material 342 miles. That is what we thought we were going to do when we were at Durango. But we could not find a site where everybody would love us. In fact none of them meet that criterion, but one that will meet the geologic requirements is 10 miles from town.
Mr. GORE. And going up?
Mr. GORE. You are getting about four times as much vanadium as you are yellow cake?
Mr. ANDERSON. Yes, sir. For each half pound of uranium we get about five times, or 242 pounds, about 5 to 1.
Mr. GORE. What are you selling the vanadium at per pound? Mr. ANDERSON. About $2.30 cents a pound.
Mr. GORE. That is figured into your negative-cost-plus arrangement?
Mr. ANDERSON. Yes, it is, sir.
Mr. GORE. What volume reduction is there in the waste material after reprocessing?
Mr. ANDERSON. Almost none. You are recovering out of 2,000 pounds a half pound of uranium and 242 pounds of vanadium.
Mr. GORE. What hazard reduction is there?
Mr. ANDERSON. You have removed the uranium content another 60 percent so that what was roughly 1 pound is now 0.4 of a pound, and most of that is locked in silica and therefore just about unrecoverable, in our judgment.
Mr. OTTINGER. But the gamma radiation is still
Mr. ANDERSON. It is relatively unchanged at that point, because the one thing you have not recovered is radium. The radium is minimal, but it is nevertheless there and it is the source of the radon gas and perhaps some of the gamma radiation. You would be interested to know for just one moment that Madame Curie recov
ered her first radium from the area near Naturita in the early 1900's.
Mr. GORE. That is quite interesting. Is there any prospect of new technology to allow us to recover the radium and the remaining 40 percent of the U30, that is locked in silica?
Mr. ANDERSON. I have to speak commercially. I do not know if there is enough of a market for radium or enough content to look at it from a commercial standpoint. Technologically, if the sites are prepared the way we are preparing these, and we were doing it for a commercial reason, I think hydrochloric acid might very well dissolve the radium from the sand. I doubt that, again, you would recover it all, but you would recover perhaps the same percentage as we are of uranium. No test work has been done on that, so I cannot give you an exact answer.
Mr. GORE. Is there reason to believe that vanadium is present in most of the tailings sites around the country?
Mr. ANDERSON. Vanadium?
Mr. ANDERSON. In New Mexico there is no vanadium, or it is in such small quantity that it is not recoverable. There is selenium, which we have not been able to successfully recover either.
Mr. GORE. What is it used for?
Mr. ANDERSON. They have just recently looked at the possibility that it may it may help keep people from having heart attacks if you have small quantities in your water. Also it is used in some sort of high technology and I am not familiar with it.
Mr. GORE. What is it selling for per pound now, do you know? Mr. ANDERSON. No, sir, I do not.
Mr. GORE. Could we hold the record open to get that at this point, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. OTTINGER. Surely.
[Dollars per pound)
15 High purity
18 More commercial information, including the supply demand relationships (1973) (p. 957) and time-price relationship (1954-74) (p. 959), is included in an enclosed article on selenium from a Bureau of Mines bulletin (No. 667).
Mr. GORE. I would like to catalog any other elements that might be recoverable from these tailing sites. Are you familiar with any others?
Mr. ANDERSON. From a commercial standpoint, sir, uranium and vanadium are the only two I am aware of. You remember we are dealing with something that has already been processed before and in some cases molybdenum was removed but it was because of an annoyance instead of a benefit, so I am not aware from a commercial aspect of anything else that is removable.
Mr. GORE. So, based upon your experience at Naturita and to a lesser degree at Durango, you believe very strongly that as the
· The article referred to Selenium, from Mineral Facts, and Problems, 1975 edition, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines Bulletin 667, may be found in the subcommittee files.
Federal Government designs a program to neutralize the hazard presented by these tailing sites, it ought also to examine very carefully the potential for recovering that U30, which remains in the tailings and whatever resources which might also be there?
Mr. ANDERSON. Yes, sir. I think that is so.
Mr. GORE. Yet, when you attempted to do this, you encountered more licensing problems than you felt were reasonable; is that correct?
Mr. ANDERSON. I guess that will be a complaint forevermore. I can give you a little illustration. Last year-I think we are trying in a different way to help the environment. In this case we are trying to make an environmental improvement. Last year it took us a four-page supplement. This year it took us a 33-page supplement to do the same thing. This is a relatively small company. We do need some limits on these things. For instance, they want to know who the stockholders are. It is pretty hard to see how that affects anybody.
Mr. GORE. Could you submit that document to us so we may examine it?
Mr. ANDERSON. Yes, sir, we will.
[The documents referred to may be found in the subcommittee files.)
Mr. GORE. I think that about covers my questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. OTTINGER. Are you advocating any legislation or any of the legislation before the committee? Do you feel it is premature?
Mr. ANDERSON. I am not quite sure of the question, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. OTTINGER. I want to know whether you are suggesting that we ought to pass any of the legislation that is before us.
Mr. ANDERSON. Yes, sir, I think you should.
Mr. ANDERSON. I do not think there could be any question, in certain areas of the West it would be a lot better if those tailings were removed to a more remote site.
Mr. OTTINGER. Have you examined the various bills?
Mr. ANDERSON. I think I am a little too green to make such comment.
Mr. OTTINGER. Thank you very much for your contribution. It is very useful.
Mr. Brown, do you have any questions?
Mr. WARD. May I ask you what it is costing you per acre to clean this up?
Mr. ANDERSON. Cleaning up is a relative term. Let us say, that all of the tailings have now been moved off of the site. If we start at that point as to cleanup and if you have to mine say 2 feet of earth to remove it, and you were covering an area of say 30 acres, it would probably cost between $5,000 and $10,000 an acre to remove the underlying soil and then restore the land after you had removed it because you have now reduced it into the subsurface. That is a pretty wild guess because we do not really approach it quite that way.
Mr. WARD. That is without any recovery benefits at all?
Mr. ANDERSON. We evidently have a study, which, if you were only looking at restoring it and not doing anything else, we think it may be closer to $4,000 per acre. That is with the long-term care and monitoring and all that sort of thing.
Mr. WARD. Earlier you used the figure of $200,000 per foot.
Mr. ANDERSON. Yes. That was in covering the tailings at Naturita. You saw the three tanks in the pictures. If you put 2 feet of soil on it, it costs you $200,000 for each foot. So if you put 6 feet of soil on it, it did not cost you $400,000, it cost you $1.2 million. That is why I think a little sense has to be used in those areas, because I think it gets a little wild.
Mr. WARD. You also said that the water had seeped down about 2 feet below?
Mr. ANDERSON. We have run a number of studies on the clays that we are put these tailings on. This is the mancos shale geology. It is an impervious clay. In the process of about 20 years the water would penetrate about 2 feet into that.
Mr. WARD. What are the present requirements for maintaining this? How many years do you have to insure that the material will remain stable or undisturbed?
Mr. ANDERSON. Our arrangement with the Colorado Department of Health takes this form. We put up a long-term bond, in this case we bought I think $80,000 worth of AA bonds. We put them in trust to the State of Colorado. The income from those bonds is used to monitor the site and to make any repairs to it. We estimated it would cost $200 or $300 a month because, you see, you are really not doing anything but putting up a fence, and if it was a heavy rain or bad erosion you might do a little rework on the top of it, but that should not happen but every 10 or 15 years.
Mr. WARD. For how many years do you think you are going to have to watch this?
Mr. ANDERSON. I would think in my personal opinion, Mr. Ward, that in 5 years the complete restoration of the land would have taken place.
Mr. OTTINGER. Thank you very much.
Mr. BROWN. Is the process of uranium extraction or radioactive material extraction developing to the extent that lower level radioactive materials may at some future date be of value in terms of the extracting processes, or the process that you use?
Mr. ANDERSON. Mr. Brown, if I understand the question, there are one or two radioactive nuclei for which there is no particular market today. Though we now recover uranium traditionally in a range of 92 to 98 percent, as against in the early days when they recovered about 80 percent-and we are working old tailings—I think most uranium values that can be removed have been removed today. Radium we do not attempt to remove. There would be no place today to sell it if you did remove it.
In my experience over the years being in the mining business, it has been that things which were not valuable 25 years ago are very valuable today. In the case of the tailings pile at Durango, they were first mined for vanadium and uranium was left. Then during this Manhattan project they reworked them and removed most of the uranium using the technology they had then. So if you and I
were sitting here 25 years from today and studying the question, I think the question would be then for us to determine, "Would they have value?” and they very well might have.
Mr. Brown. But the question really was about the technology. Is the technology evolving? Is it an evolved and mature technology or is it changing?
Mr. ANDERSON. No, I think as to uranium recovery it is mature technology
Mr. BROWN. So the question is the economic value?
Mr. Brown. What is left at 92 to 98 percent? Is there any danger from it?
Mr. ANDERSON. I think others could speak to that, Mr. Brown, better than I.
Mr. BROWN. In your judgment?
Mr. ANDERSON. I do not think it is very dangerous. I have worked in the uranium mines and the level of radioactivity is much higher. I have worked many men for many years, and the only ones that have ever really shown any effect, to my knowledge, are those who were heavy smokers. They are the only ones that have suffered from working in uranium mines.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you.
Mr. OTTINGER. We will hear next from the representatives of the Governors of the Western States.
STATEMENT OF JOHN L. WATSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND
GENERAL COUNSEL, WESTERN INTERSTATE ENERGY BOARD, ACCOMPANIED BY DON NIELSON, SCIENCE ADVISER TO THE STATE OF UTAH; AND DAVID JOHNSON, STAFF COUNSEL, STATE OF UTAH FEDERAL RESEARCH COMMITTEE
Mr. WATSON. My name is John L. Watson. I am executive director and general counsel to the Western Interstate Energy Board, which is an advisory board to western State Governors and legislatures on energy, natural resource, and environmental law issues. Accompanying me today are staff people who will be available to answer questions at the conclusion of the testimony. On my left is Mr. Don Nielson. He is the science adviser for the State of Utah; and on my right is Mr. David Johnson, staff counsel with the State of Utah Federal Research Committee.
Members of the subcommittee, I want to thank you on behalf of the Governors of the Western States for requesting this testimony on legislation pending before Congress to provide for the restoration of abandoned uranium milltailings sites. Governor Babbitt of Arizona had intended to be here to present his testimony. However, due to his recent illness and schedule conflicts he was unable to arrive in Washington, D.C., for these hearings.
I am pleased to appear before this subcommittee as representative of the western Governors, who like myself, are deeply concerned with the health hazard that uranium milltailings within our States present. May I also express on behalf of the western Governors our appreciation for the efforts which this subcommittee and Congress are taking to resolve this long-standing problem.
In presenting testimony in support of this much needed legislation, it is hoped that the members of this committee need not be