Project Name: Fry Canyon Mine Site Reclamation
The site is located approximate 85 miles south of Hanksville in San Juan County, Utah. The legal description for the site is: Township 36 South, Range 16 East, Section 34.
Type of Site:
This site was a uranium upgrader mill and later was used as a copper heap leach operation.
Utah Congressional District 2
Table of Contents
The upgrader, used to process uranium ore, was constructed on the hillside adjacent to the Fry Spring area from which water for the plant operation was obtained via a large radial well constructed in the alluvium of Fry Creek. A radial well has horizontal wells drilled out around the center well like spokes on a wheel.
The initial design of the upgrader was for 75 tons of ore per day, but within seven months of operation, the plant expanded to 200 tons of ore per day. The upgrader started operations early in 1957 and operated for about three years. It was shut down in early 1960. During its operation, the upgrader processed approximately 50,000 tons of ore that contained as much as 0.10% to 0.15% U3O8. Three products were produced from this operation; a gravity concentrate, floatation concentrate, and slimes. The products were transported to the Texas-Zinc mill at Mexican Hat.
In 1962 the site and its water rights were sold to a copper leaching company. Ponds were constructed immediately adjacent to the Fry Creek. The leaching process used sulfuric acid in the ponds and the pregnant solution was precipitated with hydrogen sulfide and collected on scrape iron. Piles of scrap iron still litter the area. No production data could be found on this copper leaching operation. The operation ran from 1963 to 1968.
In 1996 the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Geological Survey entered into a cooperative agreement to use the abandoned uranium tailings/upgrader and copper heap leaching site in Fry Canyon for a permeable reactive barrier demonstration.
The purpose of the project was to conduct research into the effectiveness and economic viability of using in situ permeable reactive barriers for removing high concentrations of uranium from groundwater moving through the colluvial channel deposits adjacent to Fry Creek downstream from Fry Spring.
More information on this project is available from the USGS Utah Water Science Center. <<insert URL http://ut.water.usgs.gov/newUTAH/Programs/FryCanyon.html>>
The contaminants of concern are: uranium, copper and radium. They are being released by the remnant tailings or waste rock? pile and heap leach ponds left by past operations.
In this location, the groundwater exceeds State drinking water standards for uranium. The tailings at the site are a potential inhalation risk to the recreating public. In addition, a rancher is located immediately downstream from the tailings and is using water from Fry Canyon and Fry Spring for drinking water and domestic purposes. There also is a store and motel located approximately 1¼ miles down gradient from the tailings area.
Actions and Timeline:
Environmental concerns at the site began in 1988 when the State of Utah prepared a Preliminary Site Assessment (PA). The findings of the PA were not significant enough to pursue further cleanup actions at that time.
Approximately ten years later, a demonstration study of innovative ground water remediation technology (Permeable Reactive Barrier) was initiated at the site by a team of Federal agencies. Although this technology evaluation was not intended to address the site’s environmental concerns, the information obtained emphasized the potential presence of environmental problems, and the likelihood the problems were created by the contaminated waste material left behind by the past site operations.
Based upon this new knowledge, the BLM reassessed the environmental concerns in 2006, and documented its findings in a Removal Preliminary Assessment Report (BLM, 2006). In this report, the BLM concluded the environmental conditions at the site require a non-time critical cleanup action pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Restoration and Liability Act (CERCLA). Additional site information was necessary before a cleanup action could be selected and initiated. To obtain this information the BLM initiated a supplemental environmental characterization effort which occurred in two main phases between September 2006 and April 2007.
The benefits would be:
(1) Preventing precipitation infiltrating the tailings and leaching heavy metals including radionuclides, out of the pile:
(2) Reducing the off-site migration of contaminants as a result of erosion and mass wasting processes;
(3) Satisfying state requirements what requirements ? at the site;
(4) Preventing or reducing actual or potential exposure of nearby human and other living populations from direct contact with the waste rock.
Cost/Funding and Estimated BLM contribution: ADD THIS
Points of Contact:
Utah State Office
440 West 200 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
Monticello Field Office
Monticello, Utah 84535