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Toxic pile at risk of spring snow melt?

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posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 12:12 PM
This is a question I want to pose of all you people with hydro-dynamics knowledge out there.

A massive pile of nuclear waste sits in a floodplain just 750ft from a sharp bend in the Colorado River near Moab, Utah. The mountains in the area are saturated with way above average levels of wet snow that's beginning to melt.

My question is, what flow rate would it take for the Colorado River into that bend above the floodplain, and how much time at that rate would it take for the flow to breach the retaining wall, flood the wastepile, and contaminate the water supply of 25 million people?

I'm just wondering when my faucet water will start to glow in the dark.

Disaster waiting to happen

Draft Environmental Impact Statement (11/2004)

[edit on 21-4-2005 by Icarus Rising]

[edit on 21-4-2005 by Icarus Rising]

posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 12:22 PM

Where in the world are you located?

Moab, Utah has one of the largest deposits of uranium tailings in the world, not to mention some pretty heinous deliberate toxic waste storage areas.

This is worthy of note since we've seen more water this year than in 15 years prior. I don't know if I would worry so much about it this year, since our dry ground is sucking up a large portion of the precipitation that has been falling, but in subsequent years, should the rain and snow not let up, flooding should become a major concern.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday while standing in line for the Steve Vai concert in SLC about the lubrication properties of water and what kind of effect it could have on the chances of a major earthquake along the Wasatch front.

Many things to consider.

[edit on 21-4-2005 by DeltaChaos]

posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 12:42 PM
Let's just say I'm downstream a ways, and I heard they are predicting flooding in that area this year from the extra heavy snowpack.

posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 12:53 PM
Salt Lake City's favorite television weatherman, Mark Snowbank, has been saying that flooding here in the valley isn't such a threat since the dry ground is sucking up the water like a sponge.

Of course, I don't put a lot of stock in what television weathermen have to say.

What I see happeneing right now is a lot of snow still falling in the mountains on a regular basis, but a lot of rain falling on the valley floor. I would think that the rain would be raising the water table to a more normal level, making the threat of flooding from spring runoff a real possiblity.

Especially at the bottom of the Wasatch range, where Moab lay. If the snow continues to fall throughout April and maybe even into May, this could very well be a problem.

I don't imagine there would be any containment or preventative efforts being undertaken.

posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 12:59 PM

...Option No. 4, which could cost only half as much, called for leaving the pile in place but covering it over with dirt and rocks.

I'm glad this is option 4.

I have a little bit of hope now that Huntsman is the governor, at least on this issue. The Huntsman's have a little vendetta going against cancer right now, even though they were once (and still are), big proliferators of it.

Maybe they can even pitch in some of their ill-gotten cash to help the effort.

posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 02:40 PM
Thanks for sticking with it for me, DeltaChaos.

This really should be a matter of great concern to both the Utah and the US governments, as well as concerned and effected citizens like ourselves. I have been looking for updates since I heard about the flood threat and connected it to the Moab Pile.

I haven't seen anything specifically about the threat at Moab. I don't know what kind of buttressing, if any, can be done between the river and the waste pile, but some measures had better be being taken to protect against an environmental catastrophy of epic proportions.

Is it a DOE site? Who can I contact to inquire about this?

posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 06:21 PM
Some more info about the pile poisoning the river. Looks like the crud has already been leaching into the river through this 'barrier' for some time now.

Western Water Report: 11 June 2000


Environmentalists are hailing as a "major victory " a FWS decision to have the Nuclear Regulatory Commission "reassess" the groundwater cleanup and endangered species protection plans for the abandoned uranium tailings "dump" near Moab, Utah says ENS 4/28. The abandoned mine waste is "leaching deadly levels of ammonia and other toxic contaminants" into the Colorado river imperiling the endangered Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker.


posted on Apr, 21 2005 @ 06:53 PM
I need to get theRiverGoddess on this thread later. She has an intimate relationship with the Colorado, having been a river runner for many years. She's spent a lot of time in Green River and Moab over the years. She will be very interested.

posted on Apr, 22 2005 @ 08:56 AM
Here's some more interesting info about this situation.

According to the graph here Estimated annual virgin flow, and my calculations, the Colorado River can be expected to flow at between 2146 and 2740 acre-feet per hour, average, an acre-foot being 43,560 cubic feet of water. The peak flow could be much higher. That's measured at Lee Ferry, and may include additional tributaries, I'm not sure yet. That is a heck of a lot of water, though.

Now my calculations give me 20.4 tons of mass per acre foot of water, and that gives us 55,802 tons of mass per hour at estimated peak average flow. I just need to figure out the acceleration of the water now to come up with the force equation, F = ma. Right? Some % of the acceleration of gravity based on average slope would be my guess for the (a) coefficient.

Is anyone else interested in this?

posted on Apr, 22 2005 @ 01:10 PM
I'm interested, but I don't understand a thing you just wrote.

From reading the articles, it doesn't seem to me that anyone's concern is how the spring runoff might affect the Colorado's flow and subsequently cause it to drag massive amounts of uranium tailings downriver. It seems all anyone's worried about is the long term effects of seepage of waste into the ground water.

No matter how much runoff there is, I don't think the Colorado would be allowed to overflow it's banks, since the flow is regulated at so many points along the river. That does not, however, eliminate the possibility that the water table may rise to the point that the tailings that have already seeped into the ground could be more easily dragged into the river. The land lying around the Colorado in the Moab area is pretty flat.

I'm really afraid this is just going to have to be a wait and see thing. Bureacracy has neither the impetus nor the sense of urgency for acting quickly when situations require immediate attention.

We may just have to hope for the best, but in the mean time, we should be writing our government officials with our concerns. If you're not in Utah, but Utah affects you, definitely get in touch with your locals and complain about Utah. We need prodding.


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