White Mesa Mill - header
Tim Peterson

White Mesa Mill - CTA

Ask decision makers to protect Bears Ears from radioactive waste

White Mesa Mill - description

White Mesa Mill - description
Dom Smith/Eco Flight

The mill site

Around the early 1990s, the mill’s owners began pursuing a new source of revenue by processing “alternate feeds” and discarding the resulting waste at the mill. These feeds include uranium-bearing wastes from other contaminated places around the country, including remnants from the Manhattan Project and Superfund sites. It is cheaper for polluters to send their waste to the mill than to a licenced low-level radioactive waste dump. As of 2021, the mill's owner had earned millions in fees in exchange for processing and discarding alternate feeds.

White Mesa Mill - Alt Feeds

Find out what radioactive wastes are processed at White Mesa Mill.

White Mesa Mill - Affected Communities

White Mesa Mill - Affected Communities
Tim Peterson

Communities at risk

The White Mesa community of the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe lives a few miles from the mill. The wind often blows from the mill toward their community at White Mesa, and groundwater beneath the mill flows toward White Mesa as well. Blanding and Bluff, Utah, are both within 20 miles of the mill.

Hear from concerned community members

White Mesa Mill - map title

A Radioactive Dump

White Mesa Mill - map text

For over two decades, the White Mesa Mill has processed and disposed of radioactive wastes from around North America. Now, the mill plans to process and discard waste from Estonia and Japan. Will the White Mesa Mill become the world's radioactive waste dump?

Shipments of radioactive waste to White Mesa Mill

Explore maps of radioactive wastes approved or considered for processing at White Mesa Mill ›

White Mesa Mil - Environmental title

Environmental Concerns

White Mesa Mill - liners

White Mesa Mill - liners
Dom Smith/Eco Flight

Plastic liners

The White Mesa Mill's oldest waste ponds are lined with a single layer of plastic between two layers of crushed rock. If those liners crack, radioactive waste in the pits could leak into the shallow groundwater below. Today, these kinds of waste pits must have two liners with a leak-detection system sandwiched between them.

White Mesa Mill - water

White Mesa Mill - water
Blake McCord

Groundwater contamination

Plumes of contaminants, including nitrate, nitrite, chlorides, and chloroform have been detected in the groundwater beneath the mill site. Community members from White Mesa and surrounding towns are concerned that the contamination will seep into the underlying Navajo Sandstone aquifer, which is the main source of drinking water for southeastern Utah.

White Mesa Mill - Health Concerns

Health Concerns

White Mesa Mill - Illegal Radon

The mill emits radioactive and toxic air pollutants, including radon, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.

White Mesa Mill - odorless, tasteless gas

White Mesa Mill - odorless, tasteless gas

A cancer-causing gas

Radon – an invisible, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas – decays into solids that cling to other airborne materials, like blowing dust. If inhaled, these particles make their way into our lungs where they remain for weeks or years, increasing the risk of lung cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Exposure to these particles can cause many health problems, including birth defects and various types of cancer.

White Mesa Mill - transport title

Transport Hazards

White Mesa Mill - Trucks

White Mesa Mill - Trucks
Blake McCord

Radioactive highways

Radioactive wastes containing not just uranium but also hazardous substances and dangerous heavy metals have been shipped to the White Mesa Mill. At times, haul trucks have spilled radioactive sludge along U.S. Highway 191, the route the White Mesa community's school bus follows each morning. Local community members have, in the past, been among the last to know

White Mesa Mill Blog

04/26/22

If the mill can’t store Superfund waste lawfully, should it really be continuing to process and discard other radioactive wastes?

Read More
03/15/22

The White Mesa uranium mill threatens people and the environment a mile from Bears Ears National Monument.

Read More
11/4/21

The White Mesa Ute led a protest against a uranium mill near their reservation, a mile from Bears Ears National Monument.

Read More
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