Partnerships Address the Problem
The Utah BLM has made significant strides in safeguarding and cleaning up abandoned hardrock mines, particularly through the development of State and Federal interagency partnerships. A particularly productive partnership has been on-going with the State of Utah’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program. By sharing resources and leveraging dollars, that partnership has resulted in hundreds of mines closed in high priority BLM areas. The BLM and State work closely to select projects and address priorities.
The Utah BLM is working with the U.S. Geological Survey to determine if the waste rock dumps associated with early uranium and vanadium mining pose a water quality issue resulting from these radioactive elements “leaching” from the waste rock dumps into undisturbed soils adjacent to the mines.
The Utah BLM is also working with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Utah Department of Emergency Response and Remediation, and their own Hazardous Materials Specialists characterized a Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) known as the MK Tunnels. The MK Tunnels were created in the 1950’s by the Atomic Energy Commission to test the surface and underground impacts to solid rock from the detonation of 300,000 pounds of TNT: a precursor to today’s bunker buster bombs. The remnants of the test site are huge open shafts resulting from the explosions. The sampling conducted ensured there were no residual explosives that could impact the reclamation of the open shafts.