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Sherwood uranium mine, Spokane, WA

The Sherwood Mine is a former uranium-ore processing site operated by Western Nuclear, Inc. (WNI). The site sits on the Spokane Indian reservation about 35 miles from the city of Spokane. WNI hauled ore from the open pit to a mill about a half mile away. There, an acid-leach process was used to extract uranium from the ore. Operations at the mill began in 1978 and continued until 1984. Mining disturbances involved approximately 500 acres while the processing and tailing area disturbed an additional 200 acres. The daily capacity was approximately 2,100 tons of ore.

The operations produced radioactive tailings, a predominantly sandy material. At the end of mining and prior to reclamation, the pit seasonally contained surface water. Decommissioning of the mill began in 1992 and cleanup activities concluded in 1996. The radioactive tailings, along with mill site soils, building equipment, and contaminated debris were encapsulated in an engineered disposal cell constructed on site. This disposal cell contained about 2.9 million tons of uranium mill tailings and an additional 350,000 cubic yards of contaminated mill site materials with a total activity of 470 curies of radium-226.


(Sherwood Mine 1985.)

Photos Courtesy of ecorestoration.montana.edu


References


http://ecorestoration.montana.edu/mineland/histories/minerals/sherwood/default.htm

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