More Than 20 Countries Represented In GJ for Uranium Workshop
KREX News Room
WHITEWATER, Colo. As countries around the world set out to clean-up former uranium mining sites, they're looking elsewhere for help, including experts in Colorado. Representatives from over 20 countries are in the United States for a four-day tour. Today they made a stop at the DOE Grand Junction Disposal Site in Whitewater.
The U.S has taken serious measures in cleaning up former uranium mining and milling sites to protect communities and the environment
David Shafer, with the DOE Office of Legacy Management, said, “The EPA recently came out with a study that the exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking in the United States.”
Clean-up in the U.S began in the ‘70s. It began in Grand Junction in the late ‘80s.
One of the machines visitors got to test out was one that tests workers for any radiological contamination after a days work.
Referring to the clean-up in Grand Junction, Shafer said, "There’s still some groundwater contamination that we are monitoring, but the cities put in bike trails and walking trails. So it’s really nice to see that because at one time it was very contaminated.”
However, cleaning efforts in some countries are only just beginning.
One international visitor from Norway, Malgonzata Sneve, said, “This workshop has been organized especially with the idea to support central Asian countries.”
“The sites are abandoned, the mill tailings are open. People even live on top of them in some cases,” said Shafer.
Russel Edge, a waste safety specialist for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said, “The material continues to re-surface over time. So it's important to leave yourself a waste disposal stream. And this site represents that.”
Although some language barriers existed among the many countries taking the tour, there’s just one goal in mind for this group.
“The problem with the uranium legacy is that it’s not only one countries problem, it’s worldwide," Sneve said,
These four days are just the beginning for several countries ready to take their clean-up efforts to the next level.