A multi-season project to clean up a former uranium mine in the Stanislaus National Forest will enter its second year this week, the U.S. Forest Service announced.
Workers will do materials staging and hauling work at the Juniper Uranium Mine site on Eagle Meadow Road, south of Highway 108, between Pinecrest and Relief reservoirs, over the next three weeks.
Forest visitors and private property owners are advised dump trucks will be traveling Eagle Meadow Road between the mine site and a stockpile of materials about 10 miles away off Highway 108.
About 100 truckloads are scheduled to be moved and the current plan is to avoid weekend work, according to the Forest Service. The work will be done during four- to 10-hour work days, Monday through Thursday, each week.
Work began last summer on the $1.5 million project.
The project is intended to reduce environmental hazards by putting the mine site’s waste rock into the earth, so contaminated material won’t remain exposed on the surface or wash into the watershed.
The 1,500-by-1,000-foot pit was left open following a dozen years of uranium exploration.
Work conducted last year, from August to November, involved returning a portion of the exposed earth back into the pit, as well as constructing an underground drainage system to direct spring water to a sediment catch basin.
Forest Service officials said last year that they discovered the water moving downstream wasn’t capturing much sediment eroding off the waste piles at the mine site and described it as “relatively clean.”
The basin will be monitored over the next several years to gage progress, the Forest Service said Friday.
Additional work this year will include covering the site with a liner and 3 feet of clean soil, planting new vegetation using local seeds collected over the past two years, and constructing drainage ditches and erosion controls, according to the Forest Service.
The Forest Service expects the reclamation project will be completed this fall.
The mine, located about 8,500 feet above sea level in the Summit Ranger District, operated between 1956 and 1966, producing about 50 tons of uranium ore to be used for nuclear power and weapons.
Forest Service officials have said contaminated earth that was in contact with uranium ore remains exposed at the mine site, but it is too far from main roads to pose a threat to area residents.