ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — State regulators on Tuesday began considering changes to a permit that governs how a mining company cleans up contamination at a former uranium mill in western New Mexico.
The plan by Homestake Mining Co. of California calls for releasing up to 5,500 gallons of treated water a minute as it cleans up millions of tons of contaminated waste and polluted water left behind at the property.
The company is seeking approval from the state to expand its use of reverse osmosis to treat contaminated water and it wants to experiment on a larger scale with other technologies that involve filtering the water through layers of minerals that are thought to attract uranium.
It could be months before the state makes a final decision on whether to change the way Homestake goes about cleaning up the site, which spans more than 200 acres and contains an estimated 21 million tons of mill tailings that stand 100 feet high.
There are about 200 people who live within a mile of the former mill, and state and federal officials have confirmed that seepage from the tailings has contaminated underlying aquifers.