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CLOSURE MAY BEGIN SOON AT URANIUM MILL NEAR FORD, WASHINGTON

CLOSURE MAY BEGIN SOON AT URANIUM MILL NEAR FORD, WASHINGTON
 OLYMPIA, Wash., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Washington is one step closer to closure of a uranium millsite near Ford, Washington, in Stevens County, State Health Secretary Kristine M. Gebbie announced today.
 Gebbie released the Department of Health's final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the clean-up of the Dawn Mining Company millsite. The EIS recommends that clean fill, not low level contaminated material as proposed by the mine owners, be used to close the site.
 "Among the factors cited in the environmental impact statement is Washington's long-standing policy of decreasing the amount of radioactive waste brought into the state," Gebbie said.
 Gebbie said other factors cited in the EIS included area residents' concerns about adverse health and environmental effects from radiation at the open millsite, as well as from contaminated material brought in as fill.
 Residents also raised questions about possible damage to highways from heavy trucks, up to 60 per day over five years, transporting the fill material.
 The mill operating license places financial responsibility for the project on the Dawn Mining Company, which operated the mill from 1956 to 1982. The company, based in Denver, has submitted a closure plan that proposes to use the contaminated fill dirt from out of state. The company would be paid by the owners of the material to dispose of it in the open impoundment at the millsite. The contaminated material would be shipped to Eastern Washington by rail and be used to fill the 40 million cubic foot impoundment containing "tailings," residue from the milling process.
 The closure plan, which is expected to take up to 20 years, could cost between $15 million and $40 million. The company will now be asked to modify its proposal consistent with the EIS.
 There is no immediate acute public health issue at the millsite, Gebbie said. The tailings impoundment currently is covered with water, which prevents radon emanation and the tailings from being blown into the community.
 The first phase of the project, the clean-up of ground water contaminated from seepage through the tailings impoundment, may begin immediately. The contaminated ground water will be pumped into the existing open tailings pit or, as proposed by the company, into ponds yet to be constructed, and then evaporated.
 Major operations, such as moving dirt, dismantling buildings and filling the impoundment, are not expected to begin for at least three years.
 A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the millsite closure project was issued in February, 1989, and a series of meetings were held to gather public comment.
 A supplemental draft EIS was issued last May to clarify the earlier draft and address questions raised at the public meetings.
 -0- 11/19/91
 /CONTACT: Dean R. Owen, 206-753-3934, or Eric Slagle, 206-586-5212, both of the Washington State Dept. of Health/ CO: Washington State Dept. of Health, Dawn Mining Co. ST: Washington; Colorado IN: MNG SU: BR-JH -- SE002 -- 4969 11/19/91 13:00 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 19, 1991
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