Tag Archives: Department Of Energy

9/29/2011 EPA announces plan to clean up largest abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation

9/29/2011 EPA announces plan to clean up largest abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation: SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it has approved a plan and committed to clean up the Northeast Church Rock Mine, the largest and highest priority uranium mine on the Navajo Nation. The cleanup will include removal of approximately 1.4 million tons of radium and uranium contaminated soil and will employ the most stringent standards in the country. The cleanup will place the contaminated soil in a lined, capped facility. The multi-year cleanup will be conducted in several phases.

“This is an important milestone in the effort to address the toxic legacy of historic uranium mining on the Navajo Nation,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Region. “This plan is the result of several years of collaboration between EPA, the Navajo Nation, and the Red Water Pond Road community living near the mine.”

“On behalf of the Navajo Nation, I appreciate the efforts of the USEPA and Navajo EPA, and the cooperation from the state of New Mexico to clean up contaminated Navajo trust lands,” said Ben Shelly, President of the Navajo Nation. “A perfect remedy is difficult to design, and in this case every stakeholder can be proud of their input into the remedy. I look forward to the cleanup and putting people to work restoring our lands.”

The disposal cell will be designed with participation from the Navajo Nation, State of New Mexico, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Department of Energy. EPA will fund an independent technical advisor to aid the community in their understanding of the project as it develops and facilitate local input into the design process. The cleanup will allow unrestricted surface use of the mine site for grazing and housing.

“Consolidating the waste into one repository will return the land to the Navajo Nation for their traditional use,” said David Martin, New Mexico Environment Secretary. “The cleanup will also ensure long term stewardship to protect public health and the environment.”

Northeast Church Rock mine operated as a uranium ore mine from approximately 1967 to 1982, and included an 1800-foot deep shaft, waste piles, and several surface ponds. Under EPA oversight and in conjunction with the Navajo Nation EPA, General Electric conducted two previous cleanups at the site to deal with residual contamination, including the removal and rebuilding of one building in 2007, and removal of over 40,000 tons of contaminated soil in 2010.

Exposure to elevated levels of radium over a long period of time can result in anemia, cataracts, and cancer, especially bone cancer.

EPA’s work with Navajo Nation to identify and enforce against responsible parties is part of a 5-year plan to address the problem, which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region9/superfund/navajo-nation/

Contact: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (415) 328-1676, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

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DOE: Techlines provide updates of specific interest to the fossil fuel community

DOE: Techlines provide updates of specific interest to the fossil fuel community. Some Techlines may be issued by the Department of Energy Office of Public Affairs as agency news announcements: Projects Aimed at Advancing State-of-the-Art Carbon Capture from Coal Power Plants Selected for Further Development: Washington, D.C. — Four projects aimed at reducing the energy and cost penalties of advanced carbon capture systems applied to power plants have been selected for further development by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE).

Valued at approximately $67 million (including $15 million in non-federal cost sharing) over four years, the overall goal of the research is to develop carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and separation technologies that can achieve at least 90 percent CO2 removal at no more than a 35 percent increase in the cost of electricity. This would represent a significant improvement over projected increases in electricity costs using existing technologies.

Advanced CO2 power plant capture systems are a key element in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies, considered by some energy experts to be among the important options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with possible climate change. Existing carbon capture systems currently require large amounts of energy for their operation, resulting in decreased efficiency and reduced net power output when compared to plants without CCUS technology. These penalties can add as much as 80 percent to the cost of electricity for a new pulverized coal plant

Today’s selections focus on slipstream-scale development (0.5 to 5 MWe) and testing of advanced solvent-based post-combustion CO2 capture technologies. Post-combustion capture offers great near-term potential for reducing power sector CO2 emissions because it can be added to existing plants.

The projects, managed by FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory include:

* Linde LLC (Murray Hill, New Jersey) – Slipstream Pilot Scale Demonstration of a Novel Amine-Based Post-Combustion Process Technology for CO2 Capture from Coal-Fired Power Plant Flue Gas

* The proposed project will use a post combustion capture technology incorporating BASF’s novel amine-based process at a 1 MWe equivalent slipstream pilot plant at the National Carbon Capture Center. This technology offers significant benefits as it aims to reduce the regeneration energy requirements using novel solvents that are stable under the coal-fired power plant feed gas conditions. The Department of Energy will contribute $15,000,000 to the project.

* Neumann Systems Group, Inc. (NSG) (Colorado Springs, CO) – Carbon Absorber Retrofit Equipment (CARE)

* This project, located at the Colorado Springs Drake #7 power plant, will design, construct, and test a patented NeuStreamTM absorber. The absorber will use nozzle technology proven during a recently completed 20 megawatt NeuStream-S flue gas desulfurization pilot project, and an advanced solvent that efficiently captures CO2. This absorber technology is applicable to a variety of solvents and can be added to existing pulverized coal power plants with reduced cost and footprint. Because of the modularity of the NeuStream technology, it can be rapidly scaled to larger size systems and retrofitted into existing plants with little risk. The Department of Energy will contribute $7,165,423 to the project.

* Southern Company (Atlanta, GA) – Development and Demonstration of Waste Heat Integration with Solvent Process for More Efficient CO2 Removal from Coal-Fired Flue Gas

* Southern Company will develop viable heat integration methods for the capture of CO2 produced from pulverized coal combustion using a waste heat recovery technology, High Efficiency System. This technology will be integrated into an existing 25 megawatt pilot amine-based CO2 capture process (KM-CDR) at Southern Company’s Plant Barry. Modeling by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America indicates that a fully heat integrated High Efficiency System will improve by 26 percent the thermal energy performance of the integrated KM-CDR and plant operation. The Department of Energy will contribute $15,000,000 to the project.

* University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY) – Application of a Heat Integrated Post-Combustion CO2 Capture System with Hitachi Advanced Solvent into Existing Coal-Fired Power Plant

* Researchers plan to use an innovative heat integration method that uses waste heat from a Hitachi H3-1 advanced solvent carbon capture system while improving steam turbine efficiency. The proposed process also implements a process concept (working with the heat integration method) that increases solvent capacity and capture rate in the CO2 scrubber.

* The novel concepts and advanced solvent used in this study will significantly improve the overall plant efficiency when integrated with CO2 capture systems, and can be applied to existing coal-fired power plants. The Department of Energy will contribute $14,502,144 to the project.

End of Techline

For more information, contact: Jenny Hakun, FE Office of Communications, 202-586-5616, jenny.hakun@hq.doe.gov

8/24/2011 Greenwire: Conyers decries clean coal technology, W.Va. industry

8/24/2011 Greenwire: Conyers decries clean coal technology, W.Va. industry: DETROIT — House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.) today said “clean coal” doesn’t exist and that West Virginia coal miners should switch to other jobs during a speech at the opening session of U.S. EPA’s 2011 Environmental Justice Conference. “From my limited understanding, there is no such thing as clean coal,” said Conyers, filling in for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who had been invited to give this morning’s keynote address. The American public continues to be bombarded by the idea that coal has a future in this country due to powerful special interest groups and regional advocates, Conyers said.

“There’s a big campaign going on about how you clean coal and we want to examine that as critically and fairly as we can, but here’s the problem: I’ve been to West Virginia, and that’s about all they’ve got there,” Conyers said.

Conyers — who over his nearly 50 years in Congress has been a leader on the Democratic side of the aisle in the fight against large fossil fuel producers, particularly big oil — said the history of coal mining in West Virginia “is one of the sorriest reports you’ll ever see.”

He called for the industry to be shut down in the state and for those who rely on coal jobs there to find alternative employment.

“We’ve got to work out a situation in one state of the union, there may be others, in which we come up with alternative ways of creating full employment without just putting everybody out of work,” he said.

Conyers comments come two days after U.S. and Chinese officials signed a new intellectual property agreement meant to ease the sharing of innovative technology when it comes to clean coal research (ClimateWire, Aug. 22).

And last week, the Department of Energy announced that it would target more than $50 million toward clean coal technology research over the next four years.

That funding commitment for four separate projects earned praise from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

“The Department of Energy is making another important investment in carbon capture and sequestration technologies because they recognize that clean coal technology is essential to meeting our nation’s energy and environmental needs,” ACCCE Vice President Evan Tracey said in a statement last week. “This investment in research and technologies will help ensure that we can reduce emissions of greenhouse gases while keeping electricity affordable for American families and business.”

The congressman saved his assessment of the future of clean coal for the end of a wide-ranging address in which he also decried Congress’ lack of understanding of how low income and minority communities are disproportionately affected by pollution.

“Many people in our nation, particularly in the federal legislature, are unappreciative of the dimension and challenges of the environmental issues that cause us to be here today,” Conyers said. “Here’s what we’ve got to do: We’ve got to work out strategies to educate the American people and our elected officials at every level about the magnitude of the problem of environmental justice and fairness.”

The 24-term congressman also bemoaned EPA’s inability to fully implement the toxic and acid rain reductions goals that Congress set during its revision of the Clean Air Act of 1990.

“It’s still in court being challenged and frustrated by the same people that I call the pro-pollution crowd,” Conyers said. “1990 and we’re still trying to get that plan out. … I will have more to say about that when Congress resumes two days after Labor Day.”

Addressing Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation

US EPA Pacific Southwest, Region 9 Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations: Addressing Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation: The lands of the Navajo Nation include 27,000 square miles spread over three states in the Four Corners area. The unique geology of these lands makes them rich in uranium, a radioactive ore in high demand after the development of atomic power and weapons at the close of World War II in the 1940s. From 1944 to 1986, nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from Navajo lands under leases with the Navajo Nation. Many Navajo people worked the mines, often living and raising families in close proximity to the mines and mills.

Today the mines are closed, but a legacy of uranium contamination remains, including over 500 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) as well as homes and drinking water sources with elevated levels of radiation. Potential health effects include lung cancer from inhalation of radioactive particles, as well as bone cancer and impaired kidney function from exposure to radionuclides in drinking water.

EPA maintains a strong partnership with the Navajo Nation and, since 1994, the Superfund Program has provided technical assistance and funding to assess potentially contaminated sites and develop a response. In August 2007, the Superfund Program compiled a Comprehensive Database and Atlas with the most complete assessment to date of all known uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. Working with the Navajo Nation, EPA also used its Superfund authority to clean up four residential yards and one home next to the highest priority abandoned uranium mine, Northeast Church Rock Mine, at a cost of more than $2 million.

At the request of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in October 2007, EPA, along with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Indian Health Service (IHS) developed a coordinated Five-Year Plan to address uranium contamination in consultation with Navajo Nation EPA. EPA regularly reports back to the Committee and to the Navajo Nation on its progress (PDF) (2 pp, 489K) in implementing the Five-Year Plan. (The Progress Report was updated in August 2010 (PDF) (2 pp, 2.9M) .)

The Five-Year Plan is the first coordinated approach created by the five federal agencies. This landmark plan outlines a strategy for cleanup and details the cleanup process for the Navajo Nation over the next five years.

EPA is addressing the most urgent risks on the reservation — uranium contaminated water sources and structures. Approximately 30 percent of the Navajo population does not have access to a public drinking water system and may be using unregulated water sources with uranium contamination. EPA and the Navajo Nation EPA have launched an aggressive outreach campaign to inform residents of the dangers of consuming contaminated water.

EPA will also continue to use its Superfund authority to address contaminated structures. EPA has already assessed about 200 structures and yards and targeted at least 27 structures and ten yards for remediation as a precaution.

Over the course of the Five-year Plan, EPA will focus on the problems posed by abandoned uranium mines, completing a tiered assessment of over 500 mines and taking actions to address the highest priority mines. As mines that pose risks are discovered, EPA may use Superfund authorities, including the National Priorities List, enforcement against responsible parties, or emergency response to require cleanup. At the Northeast Church Rock Mine, the highest-risk mine on the Reservation, EPA is requiring the owner to conduct a cleanup that is protective of nearby residents. EPA is working with the community to ensure the remainder of the site is cleaned up.

Although the legacy of uranium mining is widespread and will take many years to address completely, the collaborative effort of EPA, other federal agencies and the Navajo Nation will bring an unprecedented level of support and protection for the people at risk from these sites. Much work remains to be done, and EPA is committed to working with the Navajo Nation to remove the most immediate contamination risks and to find permanent solutions to the remaining contamination on Navajo lands.

Related Information
Superfund Site Overview

Region 9 Tribal Program

Contact Information

Dana Barton
US EPA, SFD 6-3
75 Hawthorne St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: (415) 972-3087
Toll Free 1(800) 231-3075
Fax (415) 947-3528

Lillie Lane (hozhoogo_nasha@yahoo.com)
Navajo Nation EPA
P.O. Box 339
Window Rock, Arizona 86515
928-871-6092